When I decided to move to Kauai as a single woman, my friends asked how I planned to meet someone on such a small island.
My answer was always the same: "I've lived in big cities all my life and never met anyone there. Plus, I'm sure if there's someone I'm meant to meet, we'll find each other."
Little did I know that five months after moving to the place I'd dreamed about living for a decade and a half, I would indeed find him, my Great Love, my soul mate. Somehow, I ended up in one of the most remote, scarcely inhabited places in the world and found the man who is now my husband and the father of our child (who was born just a few weeks ago!).
After meeting him, I realized how much work work it took to allow myself to open to the opportunity of finding my soul mate. Had I met him even just six months prior, I would've been a different person. I might've looked the other way or shut down our conversation when he started it one day after we played softball on a local farm together.
Taking the risk to move to such a remote place brought me to the edge of what I knew about myself. I found myself exploring parts of my soul that were still untamed. It was then that I found the complement to my soul, tamed and untamed parts alike.
From the day we met, both of us knew. Three weeks into the relationship, we discussed starting a family. Four weeks in, I was pregnant. Four months later, we were engaged. And two months after that, we were married. People say that when it comes to soul mates, you know when you know. Now that I've found my soul mate, I realized it's like understanding a common language, unique only to you and one other person.
Here are five realizations I had after finding my Great Love that confirmed to me that this was really "it."
1. My past relationships were not soul connections but stepping stones.
In my dating history, I'd been in long-term relationships with partners I thought respected me until we'd start engaging in petty power plays. I wasn't with the kindest individuals or the most mature ones. One of my good guy friends even used to ask me, "Do you only date jerks?"
My soul had a certain set of lessons it needed to learn that revolved around discovering real self-respect; I had to learn that love isn't finite or in limited supply, but actually abundant. Looking back, my past relationships were definitely not soul connections, but teachers toward finding my great love.
2. Svadhyaya (self-study) is essential for finding real love.
When I was in high school, I developed an eating disorder that plagued me for over 15 years. I ran as far away from myself as I could — all the way to Shanghai on the other side of the world. There, I discovered that I couldn't escape myself. So I entered into an intensive outpatient program, kept up with regular therapy appointments for five years, found yoga as a spiritual practice, read all the books I could, met regularly with copious amounts of healers of all backgrounds, discovered meditation and began working with life coaches.
From there, I was able to foster a new sense of acceptance. I really did have to learn how to love myself first and foremost before I could find someone to love me. Otherwise, I wouldn't have recognized real, great love when it was offered.
3. Forgiveness is a powerful healing practice.
Just before I met my Great Love, I wrote a list of every man I'd ever dated. Instead of remembering all the ways in which I thought they wronged me, I examined my role in the relationships and what goodness they brought into my life.
The hard part about being human is that nothing is ever completely black or white, good or evil. So after I went through my list, I practiced forgiveness using the simple and powerful Hawaiian Ho'oponopono technique ("I love you, I'm sorry, please forgive me, thank you" on repeat). Afterwards, I realized I had made peace with my past, and that forgiveness is a practice of strength. It is a practice that we can come back to again and again.
4. My world opened up when I let go of the word "should."
When I let in the understanding, "It's this or something greater," my whole life changed. For example, my soul mate isn't exactly the person I pictured loving for the rest of my life. For one thing, his strength comes from the fact that he never tries to force anything and instead tends to go with the flow. Previously, I would've preferred someone who was aggressive, potentially even bordering on a bully.
However, when I underwent my own personal journey and finally started to see that I actually did deserve goodness, my expectations about almost everything in my life shifted. In so doing, I attracted a partner who did the very same thing. And finally, I stopped pushing away the very thing I was asking for all along: a good kind of love. Sometimes what we think we "should" have or do just fits into old patterns, and keeps us stuck.
5. Having fun in the present moment is actually really important.
I used to want to know how everything was going to unfold. I grew up in a chaotic environment, so the mere idea of control was comforting to me. But life is defined by the unexpected, fortunately and unfortunately. That's what makes it so beautiful, right?
When it came to meeting someone new, I pulled myself back from jumping years ahead and became more present to the moments unfolding before me. Through this practice, I enjoyed discovering who my Great Love actually was without expectations or a rigorous checklist of traits he had to meet before I'd allow anything else to continue forward. It was as if the very moment I tuned into the present, I found him.
May meeting your Great Love happen just as it's meant to, whether right around the corner or in a remote corner of the world. And, more importantly, may you be ready to receive him or her.