Love, relationships, desire, passion….all things that drive the human experience. How do we stay grounded in wholeness and not get thrown out into the ethers as we try to cultivate healthy, intimate, loving relationships? I certainly don’t have the answers….but I do know of a spiritual practice that does help us in our quest for love.
Teaching what I need to Learn
I’m just saying this from the get-go……I know nothing about love. I used to think I knew everything….then I got married, had joy, suffered loss, struggled, got divorced. Apparently I didn’t know everything….and there are a billion lessons I have learned being in relationship with one individual for nearly 20 years. Much of what I learned were all the things I did wrong and all the illusions I brought into the relationship that later proved to be false, along with all my unhealed childhood wounds that probably made an enduring relationship impossible from the start. And while it is easy to be jaded or disillusioned about partnership, I find I still want healthy intimacy and still long for an enduring partnership. HHHMMMM Maybe I’m human.
While it would be really easy to say, “I will just be alone. I know how to do that and I do it well,” I also recognize that as human beings, we are programmed to be in relationship. We are a relational species and function best when in partnership and living in community. So, while there is a profound temptation to escape into the woods into a hermitage all my own, I also recognize that we are all called to partnership and to seek out healthy intimacy. The problem is that sometimes this longing comes out sideways and compels us into compulsive, co-dependent, addictive, unhealthy behaviors. This is where spiritual practice becomes all the more necessary and beneficial toward our goal of healthy partnership.
Coming out Sideways
There is one primary fear and its resulting compulsion that drives the “coming out sideways” behaviors of our inborn drive for partnership. In chapter six of my book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy, we explore the fear and its compulsion in detail. In summary….the fear is, I am not loved and the compulsion is Envy. When we have forgotten that love is our very nature, is who we are and who we are called to be, we seek for love outside ourselves, falsely believing that “that perfect someone” will make us feel whole, complete, loved. WRONG! There is nothing outside of us that can do any of these things. Love, fulfillment, completion, wholeness are inner qualities and can only be found by seeking and journeying inward. The good news, however, is that as we come to know the love that we are within ourselves, our external, intimate and personal relationships begin to reflect this love. So in our search for healthy intimacy, the journey starts within!
Seeking and Finding the Beloved – the Practice of Bhakti Yoga
There is a beautiful spiritual practice that comes from the Hindu/Yogic tradition called Bhakti Yoga. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion, specifically, devotion to the “Beloved” within. What is amazing to me is that this kind of practice is also present within both the Hebrew and Christian traditions, perhaps less obviously so, but it is there. In Bhakti yoga, our spiritual practice is given over to rapt attention upon the Divine Beloved that resides within. One might image the Divine Beloved as any of the Hindu expressions of the Divine – Krishna, Ganesh, Kali, Radha, etc. In the Christian tradition, Jesus. Mary Magdalene or Mother Mary would be the image, in the Hebrew Tradition – YHWH or his forgotten feminine consort – Asherah. And what is great about Bhakti practice is that it can take many forms, the focus being attention to the image of the Divine Beloved while engaging in whatever spiritual practice you might feel called to in the moment- Chant, Meditation, Yoga, Creative endeavors, etc. The goal is to keep your mind fixed upon the image and the idea of the Beloved, allowing one’s self to connect more and more fully with the abundant outpouring of Love embodied by the Beloved and to sink more and more fully into remembering the Love that we are as reflected by the Beloved. As Bhakti practice unfolds, we eventually find that there is no longer the illusion of separation between ourselves and the Divine Beloved, but that we have become one. In this space, we remember fully the love that we are and freely and generously live that out in the world and our outward relationships begin to reflect the knowledge of this love.
If you live in the Fox Valley area and are interested in exploring this topic more deeply, I am offering a program, Conquering Co-Dependency and Opening to the Fulfillment of Love on Monday evenings starting on Monday, September 26th. Just know….this is the teacher teaching what she needs to learn….and we will all be students in this process!
Where are you seeking outside yourself for “the person who will complete me?”
What kind of healthy intimacy do you long for?
How can you begin that search through connecting with the Divine Beloved that resides within?
Authentic Freedom Ministries