I'll enter into this conversation by sharing my spiritual name with you. (It's a relevant little detour, I promise)
After I returned from LA last year, having practiced Kundalini Yoga at Golden Bridge, I felt an incredibly loud and persistent calling to journey deeply with it; to become a student, and perhaps even a teacher. Soon after, I became interested in learning my spiritual name.
In truth, I remember scoffing at folks with spiritual names. "Puh-leeeeze" I would think to myself with a roll of the eyes. But I get it now. It is not an attempt to escape and adorn oneself in significance, instead, it's a process of leaning further into the self which can't be seen or touched or heard.
Sooner than I'd expected, I opened an email that read:
You have been blessed to live as Karan Prem Kaur, the Lioness who is filled with divine love through the power of knowing that God does it all.
Karan means knowing that God is the doer, one who makes things happen. Prem signifies divine love. Kaur means the Lioness of God who walks with grace and power throughout her life.
When I got home later that evening and read back over the email several times, I did what I so often do in moments when I feel life stand still – be it witnessing a sunrise, or watching a film that moves me, or indeed reading words that describe not my personality, but the essence of my Soul – I cried.
A spiritual name is a vibration and a tool that helps to elevate your energy through the power of its nadh (inner sound current), and through the divine essence of its meaning. It is your spiritual or soul identity. It challenges you to live in your highest consciousness and helps you progress towards your ultimate destination. Making the choice to receive a spiritual name is taking a step toward leaving old patterns behind and connecting with your infinite self. - 3ho.org
I cried because I know - I really know – that one of my greatest life lessons is to see, feel, extend, embody and realise Divine Love (well, that probably applies to each of us, right?).
I find myself contemplating Unconditional Love most days of the week, actually. I ask myself whether I'm practicing it, being it, projecting it. Usually the answer is a very honest and soft No, no I'm not.
The thing is, my love is very conditional, and those conditions are much more detailed than I'd like them to be, but with the precious prayer of 'Karan Prem Kaur', I get the privileged assignment of untying these prerequisites to love. And what better place to start than within the home; with the person I'm sharing my life with.
Here are the three things I'm currently practicing in my romantic relationship that give me a taste of what it's like to love fully and completely, and free of conditions.
1. Quit the Always/Never Conversation
I just sighed out loud writing that because the back and forth that accompanies the destructiveness of this tit-for-tat is downright exhausting.
When I catch myself saying: 'You always [...]' or 'You never [...]' to Glen, I feel as though I've electrocuted myself with ugly words. I get jolted by the inaccuracy and manipulation of them (not to mention how it must make him feel to hear them). And when they're said to me, I feel so frustrated with spikes of 'THAT'S NOT FAIR!' that I could almost throw something across the room! These conversations need to stop. We're all grown ups here.
A thriving intimate relationship requires presence, not raging egos that collect every memory of things not going right, before projecting utter failure upon our spouse with 'Always/Never.' This stealthy little tactic ensures that our partners feel unseen and unrecognised. It's our bully attempt at creating smallness out of them in an attempt to beef ourselves up on power. Enough is enough. In case you're thinking: Yeah, but, he does it to me too -- stop it. Someone has to instigate change, and it may as well be you.
Or in other words: give up the need to be right, and say sorry first.
This can feel bracing because in many ways it contradicts much of the feminist messaging from the last few decades.
I don't know about you, but I'm very aware of how I feel in my body when I am locked up in the war of trying to win. I feel brittle, not strong. There is a harshness to me. Rigidity. When I am rigid, I make it damn hard for my man to love me. As a feminine being, I am actually most empowered when I am surrendered; not weak, or submissive, or numb to reality, but open, in every way.
A woman who can return to her breath, gain a little perspective and say 'You're right, I don't want to fight. I'm sorry', is a Queen of a woman; majestic in her understanding of relationship dynamics, and it's something that I'm striving to do more often.
The content of the conversation or argument is entirely irrelevant. 'Nope, that happened in 2009 not 2008... No, you're wrong... Wanna make a bet? No... No... That's not the right way to do it...' Who fucking cares if he's wrong. Let him win. Don't castrate him.
The saying 'Would you rather be right or happy?' springs to mind here.
3. Don't Try To Change Him
Attempting to change and control our partners isn't reserved for the Cruella DeVille's of the world. These power issues surface in the small, subtle, everyday moments, and I suspect we're all guilty of it.
It's in the suggestive tone we speak with – those moments when we give advice that's unsolicited.
You're going to turn the indicator on soon, aren't you?
That's not the right way to hold the baby...
Often nostalgia is a mega kickstarter of manipulation. "I remember when you used to [.....]. I was happier then."
Look, I'm not saying that difficult moments aren't a chance to grow together and reach new thresholds, in fact, I know they are. The difficult conversations are often the ones that bring the most profound change. That's not what we're talking about here - we're talking about the ways we ever so subtly disapprove of our partners.
Last night, Glen and I went to the movies to see The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, and I was so brought alive by the colours, the dancing, the music! I was smiling and bopping in my seat for most of the film. So much joy!
I leaned over to him and whispered 'Oh, I love that Indian men aren't too proud to do yoga, or dance, or sing!'
It's true - I do admire that in them.
But the moment after I shared that with him, I felt the bite of realising that in effect what I had said to my love was: I would love you more if you would dance with me and sing with me and do yoga with me...
... which on a soul level could not be further from the truth.
Men and women – brace yourselves – are NOT equal.
We spend so much bloody time and energy trying to be the same that in the process we dullen the essence of our souls. We are other's polarity; each other's opposite, and it's in the coming together, the unity, that duality is dissolved. Through the interaction – the engagement – we become one.
While these experiments might feel 'hard' to practice at first, the softness that opens up in my body, when I give up the fight tells me that it's very, very right.
Maybe they'll help you too.
PS: Obviously this post is designed to speak to those of you have good relationships (and you want them to be better).
Never above did I say: Put up with crap, become a doormat and give up your will.
I trust that you can use your discernment in determining whether you need to surrender or rightfully take a stand in the moment.
PPS: I'd love you to share this one with your friends. Thank you :)