How our relationships teach us about ourselves...
Many of us are looking to change something in our lives: Have less stress and anxiety, feel better, be happier, increase confidence, know our life path and more. Yoga and meditation are really fantastic tools to help us with these things and so much has been written on how and why they help. So I won’t focus on that here. But if we really want to change our external world and not just our internal world, we need to take what we learn in our practice and bring it out into the world. The path to doing this is through a relationship.
To do this, we start to become more mindful and aware of our relationships. We have a relationship with everything. We have a relationship with our partner, our friends, our kids, co-workers, "strangers," money, the unknown, our home, nature, technology, our possessions — everything. We can’t fully know ourselves unless we know ourselves in conjuntion to "other." It is so easy to continually seek the peace we can find on the mat or the cushion, but then it can become an escape, something we do outside of our world. When our practice is only solitary and focused on seeking peace, it is easy to become trapped in our own patterns and our practice is disconnected from the world. When we focus on the present in an open, curious, non-judgmental attitude of our practice out into the world and into our relationships, we can then become more capable to fully see ourselves.
Most articles on relationships are targeted toward lovers simply because this is sadly the only relationship many of us are willing to risk intimacy with, and even then many of us still don’t. But it is a huge mistake to withhold or limit our intimacy. Through intimacy, honesty and awareness, relationships can become a huge mirror for us to really see ourselves in ways we ignore when we try to do it all ourselves.
Michael Stone, in his book Awake in the World writes:
Yoga is the expression of intimacy in every one of our actions in three spheres: body, speech, and mind. Intimacy does not simply refer to sex. I translate the word yoga as “intimacy” to connote the fact that everything is inherently contingent on everything else, from the basic molecules and strings that hold the world together all the way to the familial bonds that give rise to families and character. When we see that interconnectedness runs through each and every thing we encounter, we begin to see that entering our lives fully is the deepest kind of intimacy we can ever encounter (emphasis added). In fact, in order to heal, we need to find an intimate connection to whatever it is that ails us.
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