Friendship

We often read what is expected of us as a friend…

We might see posts on Facebook for instance, where there is disappointment expressed… People not being there, letting us down when we needed a friend.

We might hit hard times, and ‘know who our friends are’, because those are the ones that stay or help or support or talk…

And of course there are covert rules in friendship, set up without discussion. Sometimes these work just fine, with two people ‘working’ off the same ‘map’, with the same beliefs and ideals…

Because we are always existing in multiple levels of context…

Whenever two people meet, there will first be the relationship between them – in this case friendship – and the episode, which might be meeting for a coffee and a catch up…

Then comes the unseen ‘map’ both carry, with a whole set of internal, sometimes unconscious beliefs, about what happens next… These will be based on family ideals as well as societal, cultural and spiritual beliefs…

And it isn’t until one of these is ‘broken’ that they reveal themselves.

A family belief or rule for friend 1 might be to always send a thank you note for a gift or a treat. If this isn’t true for friend 2 then when they don’t receive the thank you note, they might feel unloved, disappointed, let down, under valued.

So once again we return to the space.

The space between two friends is where the relationships exist; how safe and how full and how abundant this space is, defines the quality of the relationship.

This can only be worked out in each case; and the most important person is ourselves…

Because nothing is personal.

So if a friend has some different ‘ways’ to us, then if they ‘touch our buttons’ in any way; the first action is to clear our reactivity.

For instance, we must investigate and seek to clear the feeling of upset if a friends hasn’t sent a thank you note, or is late for a meet up, or hasn’t been in touch for a long time, or takes longer than we might to reply to a text…

Because any reaction is ours to clear… Do we feel abandoned, let down, unloved?

From a clear space we will be in a position to explore the ‘rules’ within the relationship. It will become evident whether it is simply something that now doesn’t matter a jot; or whether you would like a behaviour change, and if so, it is important that the space is safe to investigate this…

To create any ‘rules’ in friendship or in any relating, the higher the self esteem of all concerned the easier it is to explore. And high self worth comes through working to heal and clear anywhere within us that we do not feel good about ourselves.

Because of course there are things that build the relationship and things that break it down… So it is for us to work out when it is own reaction that is separating us, or whether the behaviour of another is not something we find enjoyable in friendship…

Friendship is meant to be fun, a place to share and love and be together, as well of course to grow.

Some friendships have seasons… Time when we do many things together, see one another a lot, share and love and laugh – and then life changes and there is a big gap – but this doesn’t mean that the space isn’t safe…

It can be silent and still with no meeting or talking for a long time; but still be safe and loving and ready for the next encounter.

And sometimes friendships end…

Although of course relationships cannot end or begin in the deepest sense; because we are always all connected all of the time.

We are one…

But it is what we do with the connections at various times, when the illusion of separateness allows us to see ourselves more clearly in the mirror of the friend in front of us.

And if an apparent ending happens, then this means that there is no longer a reflection… Not for now anyway, because the orbit may occur in the future, and once again we find ourselves in the reflection of one another

And so it is…

The most important thing is that we strive to be the best friend to ourselves that we can be… That we heal the gaps to wholeness and true love of ourselves and then this will of course be reflected in the relationships we encounter in our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping the space ‘between’ sacred and safe

I have written about the space between us before; but it is such an important space, and it is so often not recognised quite how important – that writing about it again isn’t a bad thing.

The space between us is the sacred space; it is the space where all our relationships live.

That is how important it is.

It is the home of our relationships… If this space is clean and harmonious then our relationships are happy, harmonious, offering growth, loving, fun, expansive…

And what is more if it is a space between two people where children are being born and then living, breathing, growing up – of course they are being affected every single moment by the space they inhabit…

Is the space safe? Is the space harmonious, joyous…? Or is the space contaminated with tension, anger, fear…?

Our part in keeping the space safe between us and another, is to reflect on and explore the space within us…

As the poet Rumi said

‘Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it…’

For ironically if it is in relationship where we are looking for the other to love us, so that we know we are loveable and loved – without looking within to where we do not love ourselves – then we can unconsciously contaminate the relational space and so contribute to getting the exact opposite to what we were seeking.

When instead we are aware of working to heal the aspects within us where we have built the barrier to love, then we will be in a better position to honour the space between ourselves and the other…

This practise is a forever practise and a moment by moment practise. It is about personal responsibility and personal reflection…

In conscious relating we can share with another our own processes, if we have discovered a barrier to love within us… But this practise still maintains safety in the space between…

If we think always… “What kind of energy am I putting in the space? What words am I putting there? What thoughts and feelings? what reactions?

And if we are always reflective of ourselves from a loving stance – then we will be conscious of what we are contributing to the sacred space between us and the other…

And from this place we can change our own lives and the lives of others by creating space that is loving and safe and therefore expansive with no limits to what is possible…

The four horsemen of the Apocalypse

I was first attracted to the work of John Gottman Ph.D some years ago, and I found his ideas really powerful and helpful both in my own relating, but also in guiding others…

He is a professor emeritus in psychology and he is known for his work on marital stability and relationship analysis, and for having identified the four behaviours that are the most destructive to relationship…

He calls them ‘The four horsemen of the Apocalypse’.

These four behaviours are :

Criticism – Defensiveness – Contempt – Stonewalling.

All relationships are likely to experience these dynamics at some time…

Of course ideally they are eradicated completely – but it is the frequency with which they appear in relating that can predict whether a couple will stay together or part company.

Criticism…

Is a very deadly weapon in relationship – in any relationship – but it can much do much damage to the health, harmony and safety of the space between a couple.

The ‘space between us’ is where the relationship is existing… Contaminating it with criticism depletes and reduces friendship, love and the firm foundation of any marriage or partnership.

Criticism is a personal attack, it is saying that the person is somehow flawed… It can immediately block any way of communicating and connecting, or creating the space to genuinely explore and uncover what the need within the criticism is, and so address the real problem.

It also inevitably leads into the next ‘horseman’ which is that ‘the other’ becomes defensive and so neither person feels validated or listened too…

Defensive…

However unfair the criticism, when we are defensive it can escalate the problem. It means that there is no space to create a solution, or perhaps hear that we have some responsibility for the issue…

It separates rather than joins together… Therefore when we feel defensive, it is very important that we ‘press pause’ and recognize that being defensive never creates harmony, or maintains connection or allows the space to work things out together.

Contempt…

Essentially any time we try to put another person down, to be superior over them – deem them not worthy – we are showing contempt. This can be done by name calling, ‘you idiot’, or through being critical… We can also show subtle but very deadly contempt of another through facial expressions, rolling of eyes, raising eyebrows, curling a lip… We have all seen people do it and maybe done it ourselves… The person is there and we raise an eyebrow to someone else…

This is contempt and is very damaging not only to the person we are in contempt of, but definitely to any relationship.

Stonewalling…

This happens when rather than engage we turn away because we are so upset that we fear that saying anything will only make matters worse… And so instead we turn away, say nothing…

Which makes matters worse!

It can also happen in small ways when someone doesn’t reply to a question, or make any sign of being in the conversation at a point when it is necessary to engage, say a few words, nod perhaps…

It often arises because the person stonewalling fears that speaking won’t help matters… But the action itself of stonewalling is very destructive, and it is important to work on our own part that wants to withdraw. In a relationship it can be helpful to identify the pattern and how it occurs when neither person is reacting… This way together we can work on our own part and clear the way to do something different…

For instance rather than carrying going on and on (if we are the one experiencing being ‘stone walled’)to the person with their back to us – instead we can learn to once again press that pause button – and recognise that they are upset… And if we are the person who is stonewalling, we can learn techniques of self relaxation, so that we can do something different and become aware of how upsetting our behaviour is to the other…

Even becoming more conscious of these habitual relationship issues can make a difference immediately to how we relate….

This is such powerful research, because we can transform our own lives through being conscious of our own behaviours, of our own reactivity, or of our own need to defend of criticise – to be unkind…

By committing to our part in the relationship that will keep the space safe, we can transform how we stay connected to our partner, to our children, our friends, our colleagues…

Of course if everyone is aware and committed to their own part, then the transformational energy is more powerful…

But if through reading this article, it allows some recognition of any patterns or ways of being that we recognise – and can see their destructive energy – then even a small amount of change can start the building blocks to a healthy and flourishing relationship that can truly flourish in the space between….

And of course, as always…

The most powerful work is that which we do within ourselves…

Clearing any feelings when the urge to self criticise arises – as well as feelings that mean we want to defend ourselves or criticise another – or the pain that arises which means we want to turn away from someone who is trying to communicate with us… To clear the feelings when we find ourselves dismissing or acting contemptuously to our own efforts our own essence; to ourselves.

When we work consistently to clear any reactivity and negative feelings within ourselves – to clear the four horsemen within – then it becomes impossible to project them outwards onto another….

And once again, the magical thing is that it is in the mirror of relating where we will discover and uncover the wounds and hurts that arise for healing within ourselves and can show us the way to be whole.

 

I don’t want to go…

It is almost 5 years since Anadi and I first connected…

My friend Amy was looking to see whether he might have some music on his ‘Sounds Orange’ website suitable for some meditations I had made…

He never received that email, but Amy did some further investigations and saw that he carried out interviews about meditation…

This is how it came that we were talking on the phone in November 2012, arranging for me to travel to London for a video interview about running as a meditation…

I remember in the interview speaking about the ease of living a life of meditation… Apart from running miles and miles on the South Downs, I lived alone and enjoyed a lot of solitude and silence in my daily life, which leant itself to staying still within…

Little did I know that my life was about to be whirled about, upheaved from its familiar rhythms and that very soon, I would be of no fixed abode, travelling the world with the man interviewing me and that he was to become my husband…

In fact he was to become my fifth husband…

All of my life, my driving force was relationship… It still is, but in a different way now.

I was born a romantic it seems, I loved dreaming about love and romance, connection, communication and ‘happily ever after’. I didn’t have much idea of what this was, or how it would look, but I was always in love with a boy… For as long as I can remember there was a focus for my daydreams, and my night time fantasies….

I was also aware from a young age that relationships needed attention and care, and that I was responsible for my bit.

I never found staying in touch with people difficult… I loved writing letters and talking for hours on the phone to Richard my boyfriend and to my friends…

It all came easily and naturally to me. I even navigated being bullied as an 8 year old – and then again as a 12 year old – without too much trauma, it seemed… Although the situations were difficult, I was popular and had other friends to spend time with and so I could avoid the attacks…

Because I enjoyed close intimacies with my friends and with Richard, there wasn’t really anything to question…

Things changed after the death of my mother, a slide into an eating disorder and the development of an unhealthy grooming relationship with my running coach.

On reflection I now see that the balance got tipped out then, and my ease in relating and relationship became tarnished.

This was because the relationship with myself had become damaged, and any feelings of being somehow ‘wrong and bad’ that I had brought into this life with me, had been accessed

I was carrying guilt and self hatred after the death of my mother and the confusion in the relating with my coach, and this self hatred became projected onto my body and my eating habits; the downward spiral had begun….

It took me many years to spiral up and blossom again.

All the relationships I engaged in offered me stepping stones of great learning, healing and self reflection.

I was the common denominator in them all; and I don’t see them as ‘going wrong’ or ‘failing’… I view them as wonderful episodes of intimacy and growth and of seeing myself magnified and reflected in the patterns, the pain, the joy the connection and the disconnection.

It was all there, because I was all there….

I don’t even see them as having ended, because I am still relating with all of them; we simply changed the form…

Changing the form may not have always felt exactly simple, but it was always negotiated with as much awareness and wisdom as we had at the time… Of course with hindsight there are things I would have done differently; but it was never going to be any different; this was my own journey to deeper connection and relationship and love within myself…

Of course relationship isn’t just with the romantic, sexual relationships in our life; relationship is with everyone we encounter… Every single interaction, every friendship or business relationship; every on line friend or business connection, every single dialogue is relationship in motion…

It is us reflected… It is us in motion…

The more intimate or ‘committed’ the relationship is, can often provide more opportunity for growth… But not necessarily of course.

So how come 5 years on from first connecting to Anadi am I still married to him and still journeying with him…?

Because I don’t want to go…. And it appears neither does he…

In my other committed relationships they came to a place where one of us wanted to go, it truly was as simple as that… It is at the deepest level always as simple as that. The confusion is the unresolved pain within us that change and perceived loss, can access… Someone else wanting to do something else is taken deeply personally and can be a very hard journey to navigate…

Everyone is a reflection of our energy, and therefore is somehow resonant to something within us…

If the vibration changes, the energy shifts, and the reflection isn’t relevant anymore then the form will change…. This happens anyway in relationships where two people may choose to remain married, or even living together, but the form of relating might be unrecognizable to the early stages either for the better or the worse…

But ultimately at the deepest level relating and relationship is about our relationship with ourself – and if we always keep this as the fundamental core orientation, then paradoxically it means that instead of looking for the one; we become the one and instead of looking for the other to be the best partner, friend, colleague, husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend; instead we look to focusing on our own lessons, our own clearing and becoming conscious of being the best friend, partner, lover, colleague that we can be simply through clearing our energy to one of open hearted authentic communication, where we are conscious in every moment of what we are putting into the space between us and the other, which is where the relationship is occurring…

Clearing Criticism

Clearing Criticism

There is always a need we want answered when we criticise another, particularly when we are criticising our partner, friends or family.

It is the adult equivalent of a babies cry.

When we find ourselves on the brink of judging or criticising another, this is the time to press the imaginary ‘pause button’ and to reflect where our need is…

What is it that we want from the other?

What is going on within us that means we want to say something to them that is negative about their behaviour, appearance or actions? If we first reflect this way, then it is possible to communicate with much greater awareness and clarity…

It means that the dialogue can become an intentional conscious one, rather than an attack. It means we will always keep in mind that ‘how we say something is integral to what we wish to say’

It also means that we are more likely to be heard and validated, and find that our needs are met – rather than the cycle of criticism and defensiveness continuing – which can erode relating and so the joy in a relationship.

If we are invited to critique or give feedback this is a different thing, but it is still vital to watch that what we say is clean and clear without any agenda or projection on our part.

Ideally for healthy relating there is no criticism at all – but of course this can take commitment and practice…

Clearing the way for the life we truly want to lead…

In my last article I talk about clearing reactivity as the basis to create the life we truly want to lead…

And to enjoy the harmony and expansion, passion and connection we dream of in our relationships…

Reactivity is a direct arrow to pain within, and when we react and act out of that reaction, we have instantly cut off love to ourselves, and of course to the other.

We are also no longer in the present moment…We are in the past, in fact we can be up to 90 percent in the past and so whatever plays out from reactivity is often hardly anything to do with the situation we are in, or the person… It is only that something ‘triggered’ you to remember some pain from when you were a baby or small child – and the ‘old brain’ is saying ‘danger danger’, because when we were small our very survival depended on the adults around us, and if we did or said something that seemed to threaten that safety, it felt ‘dangerous’ and we found ways to adapt so that we could navigate the world we inhabited…

But at the deepest level we all want to be whole, and so in adulthood, it is very powerful to learn that the triggers we experience can serve to point out to us where we need to clear this energy – so that we can live freely the life we truly want to lead…

This whole universe is made of energy. As we know from a physics perspective energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed and transmuted…

When a new baby is born, we often project that they are in a clear state…

Of course this isn’t always the case after a difficult birth, or an unhappy pregnancy or the relationship they have been born into being one of conflict…

And then there is influence of past lives… Our energetic make up has been created over lifetimes and lifetimes, and has informed the parents, the country, the culture and circumstances we are born into, in this life…

This explains why children born into the same family will experience different issues, different lives, different experiences and will ‘respond’ differently to the rough and tumble of childhood, and have different adaptations to the occasions they felt any ‘danger’ or separation….

For the purpose of this article we will work with the experiences of this life, because this is the time we have now to work on – and the opportunity to clear the blocks to true love of self, to clarity, to being able to remember that we are born of consciousness which is beyond the duality of this universe…

The wonderful thing about being born into a human life, into the duality of light and dark, joy and sadness is that we have the perfect opportunity to work out the pain and the tension, the ‘stuff’ that has built up through our adaptations to the hurts, and disconnection we experienced in childhood – that pulls us this way and that – the yin to the yang – and gradually learn to live from the heart beyond duality…

So how do we do this?

The first place is to recognize that when we ‘react’, this is a direct arrow to our own pain.

The person that triggered us may well have behaved in a way that isn’t acceptable; but it is our trigger and our reaction that we must work with…

In my first article we worked with exploring our ‘paradigm’, all of our beliefs and stories and ideas – and to start to investigate and challenge them, and see if they hold true for us now…

Within this exploration we will also uncover where we didn’t feel loved enough, heard enough, understood enough, supported enough… We might also uncover where we felt disempowered by ‘too much’ support; where we didn’t ever experience criticism – and so were very wounded in school for instance, when we were first ‘told off’…
The exploration is ongoing and within finding out about our own personal story, we can see where we ‘react’; and start to trace back to what hurt the reaction relates too…

This is an interesting process, and human beings often like to ‘understand things’…

However, the real work comes when we commit to clearing this pain ourselves.We know our stories, but it is only us who can clear the pain in adulthood.

There can be huge support in loving relationships; but we cannot assume another wants to relate at this level…

The clearing work is our responsibility…

Of course the more we commit to this, the more likely we will discover other people similarly committed, and so the space between us becomes a safe place for exploration, understanding and clearing…

But the most important commitment is that we clear our own pain, and find the corner within us where love has not reached – and through clearing the pain bathe those places in light and love…

Practically we do this by first noticing when we have reacted; and this is every single reaction. It can be when someone allows a door to slam in our face, as much as bigger issues with a partner or children…

Then… Press an imaginary pause button….

Allow yourself to truly feel the feeling; breathe deeply and notice the still point at the top and the bottom of the breath; this silence can allow for the feeling to leave…

Clearing may not happen immediately; the most vital part of this process is to commit to always doing it.

Practicing watching the breath and connecting to the still point as a ‘daily practice’, can help with staying in touch with the part that is always still within us; and so when reactivity occurs, it gets easier to be silent and feel the feeling… Notice where it is in the body and watch it leave.

For some seeing it as a colour and watching it change helps; for some breathing it out; for some just waiting until the energy changes and the feeling leaves…

Like everything this requires practice and commitment and no attachment to an end ‘result…’

Whatever emerges from the clear space will emerge….

 

 

 

 

 

Our life as reflection of our relationship with ourselves


Our life is a reflection of us.

It is a reflection of our relationship with ourselves…

In short our life reflects where our relationship with ourself is severed, and where love is lacking… Where we do not love ourselves fully…

So, how do we start to clear this?

It is not uncommon to have feelings of dissatisfaction with life – or if not with life itself with ourselves – and feel that we could do more, be more, experience more. Or that we just want to feel more alive and happy, more at ease and peaceful within…

The first important point is to know that every single thing we experience is something to do with us… This is not from the perspective of it being in any way our fault, or any blame pointing our way.

I am also aware that some people may not agree with this statement; but for the purposes of uncovering how to have a better life, a better relationship with self, this article is exploring from this perspective …

It also means that if we adopt this stance, we can view our life from the position of empowerment, because if everything in our life is to do with us; then we have within us the power to clear.

If we do not like what we are seeing or feeling or experiencing, then with the understanding that this is something to do with us, we know that even if it takes some investigation, then we do have the keys within ourselves to unlock our future…

The next important thing is to recognise that this can take time, and that there is no rush and that if we are now going to take full responsibility, there may be some work needed to uncover and clear the pain and tension blocking us from our dreams…

Once we truly recognise that our happiness comes from within us, then it can take some time to re orientate from a habit of looking for it outside…

I was speaking with my Spanish teacher Maricarmen about learning Spanish, and how she suggests things for people to do to learn Spanish – which they then don’t do…

Again this isn’t uncommon, we might want something a lot, and yet when we are given the tools to make the changes, we don’t do what has been suggested – and then of course things stay the same and we continue to feel dissatisfied – and sometimes even wonder why…

So for the purpose of this article we are going from the position of

Everything is to do with us

Therefore everything is within our power to clear

Once we take full responsibility for our lives we must recognise that this entails consistent commitment to becoming conscious of self and it can take time

Happiness is within us, not outside us.

So, the first step could be to look at our lives in broad concepts, ie) What would a truly fulfilling life feel and look like? What are the ingredients in broad concepts…?

Would they be things like success, love, peace, excitement…?

This exercise is simply for awareness, once you have written all the broad concepts down it can be helpful to write a mind map, coming off each concept – and see how these qualities are being lived out…

Always keeping in mind the four points written above… The investigation therefore although looking at the outer reflection is to lead you inwards…

For instance under ‘love’ you might have friends lover family partner children…

As you keep working through the whole exercise, of course you will discover things that might bring you joy or excitement that are not in your life at all at the moment; or maybe they are but they are fraught with pressure…

Essentially over a period of time you will uncover what you want, what you yearn for, where your life is good, where there is pain and tension and so you have a beginning point…

Now you are becoming truly in touch with yourself…

And once again this is the time, to sit in silence and reflect on all you are uncovering… The yearnings, the frustrations, as well as the joys and the satisfaction is an inner state.

The things that we perceive are ‘making us’ feel uncomfortable are simply the outer refections of where the inner healing and changes are needed.

You will see the things you would like to add into your life, and because you are aware that the change comes from within you can start to take some action…

There may be many reasons why you are not living as you truly want to.

So, start with something you can change or do with ease; if you would like to be doing something you are not… Book it up.This is simply to bring to our attention what we need to clear within…

Notice everything about this process… Is there any resistance? What does it feel like giving yourself permission to do this thing…?

In the very first action of an outer change it can hi-light so much and open the door to start to explore your paradigm, your inner world…

All the beliefs you have about life; every single belief came from somewhere… Notice what you think and believe and start to query… ‘Where did I get that idea? Does it hold true for me now? Does it resonate with my heart and soul…?

Start to examine the stories you tell about yourself and others tell about you… Are they accurate…? Where did they come from? Who told them first? Do they resonate now?

This can be things like “I never succeed’, ‘I’m no good at that’, ‘people will think I’m showing off…’ “I have to get it right…’ I can’t try anything until I’m sure I’ll get it right…’ ‘Everyone thinks I don’t care, but I do..’
And so one…

This exploration of your paradigm, your ideas and beliefs can be a daily process and it will uncover so much and work alongside you taking actions for change, coming from an inner shift, a deeper self knowledge and self understanding…

In effect it allows you to start to be your own best friend, your own therapist who is gently coaching you to to let go of any stories beliefs or ideas that do not support you – and who is helping you to fall in love with yourself and support and encourage you to live life fully; as yourself, not living up to any expectations of others…

Alongside this investigation, it is important to begin a process of clearing tension and pain from old hurts and emotional wounds…

These will show up in any reactivity that you feel in any conversation, situation or episode…

By recognising that when we react it is an arrow to one of the negative stories or ideas we have about ourself; a direct connection to somewhere where we been hurt in childhood, then by keeping aware in every moment and noticing any tension when it arises; it can help connect to the other exercises and ideas in this article.

Clearing the tension is the bedrock of this work. Because in recognising when we react, we can refer to the points mentioned earlier

1) This is to do with me,

2) This is empowering as I can do something about it

3) I am responsible for my life and my reactions

4) My happiness is within me, and so this reaction is coming from inside me; it is not to do with what is going on outside; that is just the trigger…

This process can take time to engage with, but like everything with practise it can become the very hub of transforming our lives…