This Spiritual Exercise Will Bring You A Whole Lot Closer To Your Partner
While it’s easy to think of spirituality as a singular endeavor, Patricia Albere of the new book, Evolutionary Relationships: Unleashing the Power of Mutual Awakening, knows that it’s a whole lot bigger than that. Here, she describes the beautiful notion that—in true You. We. All fashion—all of our spiritual journeys are intertwined by a shared humanity.
If you’re interested in "conscious relationships" you’ve probably done some kind of work to improve the way that you and your partner interact. There are thousands of valuable approaches out there, ranging from developing our ability to listen and communicate with others to improving ourselves so we can be better relationship partners.
But there’s another approach to relationships that bypasses all that. I call it mutual awakening, and it’s focused on becoming aware of the space between you and others in your relationships rather than trying to improve yourself or your partner. The goal is to learn to become aware of the subtle space that you share—the invisible "shape" of your relationship—and then learning to evolve and develop that space.
What does a "mutual awakening" look like?
Here’s a story to show you what I’m talking about: Samuel and Paula had been happily married for eight years, but when they came to one of my workshops, their marriage was visibly strained. They felt like they’d done nothing but fight the past few months, as they juggled two careers, children, and a busy social calendar. They’d seen a therapist and were trying to be more accommodating of each other’s needs but felt unable to recapture the kind of easy togetherness they’d once experienced.
When Samuel and Paula came to me hoping they could find a solution to their problems, I asked them to do a practice. It began with simply sitting together, being present, and then answering—one at a time—the question: What am I experiencing? After a few minutes, I asked them to turn their attention to a different question: What are WE experiencing? With short words and phrases, they took turns answering. It required them to pay attention not to their own internal thoughts and feelings, but to something between them, that place where their consciousness overlapped.
Awakening to a "we" space is actually a lot simpler than you think.
After they’d been doing this practice for about 10 minutes, Samuel and Paula appeared more relaxed and open. Their faces were lit up with a kind of sweetness, and it was obvious that they had connected in a deep way. I asked Paula what had transpired, and she said, "I feel like I just found our relationship again! All these months, I thought we were working on our relationship, but in fact we were just two separate people working on ourselves or trying to change each other. We had lost touch with the place between us, the place where our connection and our love exists."
Paula and Samuel’s story illustrates the most critical shift we need to make if we’re interested in finding true communion in our relationships. They shifted their attention from themselves to the space between them—to the place where their relatedness exists and where their consciousness intermingles.
As you can see from the above example, awakening to a "we" space is actually a lot simpler than you think, but it does take some practice. I encourage you to engage in the practice that Paula and Samuel did, observing the following as you go:
1. Map your influence.
As human beings, we influence each other on multiple levels—from the most obvious to the very subtle. Embracing our power of influence, learning how it functions and how we can engage its power consciously, with love, sensitivity, and focus, is critical in developing this "we space."
Take a moment to reflect on those who have had a profound influence on you and your life. How has their love, brilliance, commitment, and support shaped you at the deepest levels? What aspects of yourself have been molded by their touch? Imagine what your life would have been like without them. Now think of those that you’re in relationship with and start to consider what influence you might be having, consciously or unconsciously, on them.
2. Practice openness.
Mutual openness is the ability to be vulnerable and transparent with each other and whatever the moment is presenting. It’s the willingness to let go of agendas and attempts to "get someplace." As experienced meditators learn, when you let go and let things be as they are, something mystical takes over. The same principle applies in conscious relating. When you approach each other and the relationship with openness, curiosity, and acceptance, a deep enjoyment and sharing occurs. You discover that you love to explore greater mysteries together.
Simply holding uncomfortable feelings in an open-ended way, with curiosity and trust, can be surprisingly powerful.
Here are some simple tips on how to cultivate openness in your relationships:
- Become aware of expectations, fixed positions, and preconceived ideas about yourself, your partner, or the relationship.
- Be willing to explore these fixed concepts and, if possible, let them go.
- Investigate any sense of contractedness or fear.
- Actively challenge self-images that you have developed (e.g., "I am this kind of person" or "I am that kind of person").
- Become attuned to the movement of the optimizing force, follow its dynamism, and stop trying to fix or stabilize reality.
As you pay attention to becoming more open together, freshness, innocence, and playfulness will return. If you always are trying to fix problems or get somewhere, your shared experience can become heavy and stale. I’m not suggesting that problems should be avoided or allowed to fester. Rather, I am encouraging you to use these techniques to mutually open yourselves—and then be present with whatever arises. Simply holding uncomfortable feelings in an open-ended way, with curiosity and trust, can be surprisingly powerful.
3. Deepen your engagement.
If you’ve done any kind of spiritual or psychological work, you’ve probably learned how to bring awareness to different dimensions of yourself. You’ve also realized that unless you reach a deep level of self-inquiry, you are essentially asleep and moving through life unconsciously. The same principle applies to our relationships. We no longer should relate to others unconsciously or be disengaged. In order to "wake up to your relationship," you need to pay attention to the field between you and determine what you can do to engage more fully.
If you have a partner who is willing and interested, a great way to begin is to practice simply reflecting to each other those moments when you "lose" each other. First, establish why each of you is interested in the relationship. Then ask: What can I do to engage more fully? Choose a certain period of time when you agree to be fully present and interested in whatever is occurring between you. Notice what creates separation. It might be a sense of distance suddenly appearing, a recognition that the other person seems distracted or closed. Draw attention to those moments without trying yet to fix them. Simply become aware that you’ve disengaged or checked out and then bring yourselves back to full engagement and presence.
As you start to engage more deeply in your relationship and pay attention to the space that is opening up between you, you’ll find this relational space starts to have a life of its own and carry us beyond our differences to a whole new depth of communion. It will open up possibilities for intimacy and unity that are inspiring, creative, and deeply fulfilling.
Next up in relationships: Check out how one woman "called in" her soul mate.