Two tasks of relationship are showing up and letting go.Both actions are loving and respectful things to do.Neither is easy.
Showing up is an act of engagement.You show up when you move toward someone in a way that authentically reveals who you are.You speak from your heart and mind with the intention of revealing yourself, not to manipulate or make something happen.A second way to show up is to listen without judgment, to respectfully enter the world of the other person in a way that appreciates its uniqueness, and to respond in way that conveys your acceptance and understanding.
While showing up involves doing, letting go means not doing; it is an act of disengagement.Sometimes, this is misused as a tactic to signal the other that you’re not happy and you want him/her to shape up.The letting go that fosters relationship comes from an acknowledgment of differences, a willingness to live with what is, versus pushing for what ought to be.You can agree to disagree, without erecting barriers and closing your hearts to each other.
Two simple concepts:Showing up and letting go – a rhythm, a mix, a balance.Simple, but not easy.
Some years ago, at a spiritually-oriented conference, I presented a 4-day program entitled: The Alchemy of Intimacy.During one of the sessions, I led the group through a guided meditation.I'd like to share it with you.
Happy Valentine's Day!
The Lover Speaks
Picture yourself in a beautiful wooded area – on a gorgeous day.The sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing, and the temperature is just right for a walk in the woods.
Imagine you're on a path that heads toward a clearing.As you draw closer to the clearing, you hear the sound of a voice.You stop and listen.The speaker is not visible to you – and from the sound of the voice, you can't tell if it's a male or a female.
The speaker is talking out loud in soliloquy – as if speaking to someone beloved.The lover speaks:
"Can I open my heart to the mystery of you?Can I soften my belly to the energy of you and to the many different ways that energy comes toward me?Can I receive the truth of you in all its versions, in all its contradictions.You seem so new to me, so foreign – yet so anciently familiar.
"Can I open to your divinity, as well as to your humanity – to your uniqueness, as well as to our oneness?
"Can I allow you to matter, to complicate my already complicated life?Can I trust myself to find balance – to make room for you, but not too much room – to give myself completely to you, without giving up myself – to love you and not lose me?
"Can I approach you, each day, with fresh eyes – letting go of history, labels, preconceived categories and judgments – so that my gaze is filled with wonder and curiosity?Can I see you with the eyes of an innocent waif, who has never before set sight on a human being – and, at the same time, see you with the eyes of the aged sage in me, who has seen it all and loves it all?
"Can I come to you from the fertile void that allows the miracle of you to blossom without expectation or containment?
"Can I notice the details of you with all my senses alive – eyesight, hearing, touch, taste and smell?Can I also attend to you with that sixth sense that immediately recognizes your soul?
"And if we become lovers, can I make love to you with all three eyes wide open, seeing you clearly - body and soul?"
The lover is now silent.Quietly, without being noticed, you return down the path along the way you came – walking slower, pondering what you heard.
My sitting meditation this morning was interrupted time and again by nagging thoughts about the mountain of responsibilities currently on my plate.After 15 minutes, I gave up and went cross-country skiing.
Five inches of light powder, with more coming down, greeted me at the local quarry-turned-park where I often ski.Oak limbs and mountains of granite boulders were piled high with fluffy white stuff.Quietly gorgeous, the scene was absolutely serene – and I had it all to myself.
I love the way beauty in nature, once attended to, melts the frets and frustrations of everyday life.After just a couple minutes, I could feel myself soften - mind chatter giving way to sensory delight.
Somewhere in the body, I could feel/hear Mother Nature's gentle (and, as it turns out, poetic) instructions:
In Softening to Love workshops, I sometimes find it useful to compare three approaches to close relationship:fusion, isolation and intimacy.Each approach can be seen as a way of dealing with two human hungers:the yearning for oneness and the yearning to be ourselves.However, only one of the three manages to balance these hungers of the human heart.
Fusion emphasizes oneness at the expense of individuality.It attempts to overcome the wound of separation by making two people one - and often results in some interesting battles over which one of us we're going to become.Personal boundaries get blurred.We focus energy on controlling each other.Ironically, in these efforts to control, we wind up strangling the very closeness we're trying to achieve.
Isolation emphasizes individuality and neglects connection. We attempt to protect and enhance the self by building walls – barriers that keep us from touching deeply.We keep ourselves hidden.We keep others at bay.The irony here is that disconnection does not keep us safe; nor does it help us build a strong, resilient self.Flourishing selfhood requires nutrients only available in the rich and stimulating stew of interpersonal life.
Intimacy, as an approach to relationship, embraces oneness and uniqueness. It honors our hunger to connect, as well as our need to be who we are.In this approach, we open to each other and touch each other at many levels, without intruding or controlling.We invest energy in two tasks:knowing and being known.In the trenches of intimate interaction, we do our very best to reveal ourselves, gently and honestly.We do our very best to see one another – gently, without illusion.
Whenever I get stuck, grappling with the goofiness and messiness of relationship, I remember my commitment to the path of knowing and being known.This path invites me to let go of control and to drop barriers.It challenges me to show up, to pay attention and to tell the truth. It orients me, like a north star, toward deeper connection.