Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Except for a few short term bursts of relationship, I’ve been mostly single for two years after twelve years of marriage ended in divorce, and jeez, things have changed in my dating process since last time I was single. My old list of “What I Want in a Partner” has mostly dissolved. Gone are the “wears boxers,” “likes green,” “great legs,” “enjoys hiking and skiing,” and “financially secure” items on my wish list. I’ve had to add some terms I hadn’t thought it necessary to add when I was younger, like “Not gay, married, living internationally with no chance of a visa, or expecting me to conceive another child.” Having attracted every variety of unavailable man, I’m realizing I need to get specific. “No prison inmates, polygamists, or monks, please!” And living in Marin County, I’m also realizing that I need to qualify that, while I don’t judge anyone who chooses such a lifestyle and I can certainly see the appeal of it, polyamory isn’t my cup ‘o’ tea. Been there. Tried that. It just doesn’t feel safe or stable to me, and it’s a lot of emotional work. Perhaps I’m just not enlightened enough, but my polyamory experiment left me concluding that my heart is just too tender and needs the gentle nest of what I’ll call “open monogamy” in order to open up all the way to the levels of intimacy I desire and am capable of giving.
Time, marriage, and maturity have definitely shifted my priorities. But the most radically paradigm-shifting change is this big fat realization.
I am only interested in a relationship with someone as committed to the spiritual path as I am.
There. I said it out loud, and you can hold me to it.
The Perils of Dating
It’s almost laughable what tends to happen when two egos get together to try to impress each other. There’s posturing. There’s game-playing. There’s guarding of the heart and masturbation of the intellect. There’s bravado about what has accomplished what and who knows who. There’s false modesty that cloaks over genuine lightworking. There’s hiding of shadows and disguise of the authentic self.
The dating ego dance is so obvious that I don’t last ten minutes with this kind of interaction before I pull out my metaphoric scalpel and start digging for something truthful and real. On one first date, I made a reference to the movie The Matrix and asked my date, “Red pill or blue pill?” He said, “Red pill,” and the relationship lasted four great months. Blue pill dates don’t interest me very much. I’m more interested in someone brave enough to show me Who He Really Is.
What Is a Spiritual Relationship?
When I talk about someone on a spiritual path, I’m not talking about religious zealotism here. That’s just another form of intolerance and judgment that feeds the story of separation. I’m talking about a relationship that recognizes that we are more than two egos, coming together to fulfill the insatiable hungry ghost desires of the ego. We are two spirits in human bodies communing to help each other wake up to the magnificence of our true Divine nature and the Oneness of all of life, two spirits committed to serving the revolution of love in our own unique ways, with the relationship serving as a vehicle for helping us fulfill our role in this world-healing revolution.
I envision a relationship where two hearts are so raw, loving, courageous, transparent, and wide open that there is almost no boundary between the two beings, not because of co-dependence and a lack of individual wholeness, but because of a pure recognition of the Oneness that exists between all of us. Rather than two woundmates coming together to fill a hole in each other, two whole and complete spiritual beings who have learned how to heal their own wounds unite to uplift and commune with one another, the Divine within one honoring and mirroring back the Divine within the other, not out of need, but as an act of celebration and growth. The Godself loving the Godself, spiraling up with a high vibration of spiritual autonomy but also healthy interdependence, passionately drawn together with the intention of waking up together and enjoying and experiencing this human life in all the ways humans can commune, serve, and celebrate.
Own Your Part in Conflict
A relationship committed to the spiritual path includes doing the deep and sometimes confronting work that accompanies waking up together. I envision two humble and resilient beings getting out of their victim stories and owning their part when conflict and adversity arises, always aware that we are humans with egos and prone to error, but we are also infinite souls who are always growing, changing, and learning that which we came here to learn as part of our curriculum here at Earth School. This means avoiding the tendency to judge and blame others when things don’t go the way we wish they would, in recognition of how we co-create our lives, participating in all that manifests in our lives. I’m always asking myself, “Why did I write this into my movie script?” I envision a partner who does the same, with open curiosity and neither judgment of others or self-flagellation.
This doesn’t mean that you become a doormat in the name of unconditional love. On the spiritual path, we always recognize that every soul is entitled to its own journey, and we’re all doing the best we can, even those we might label as the “perpetrators.” Without a lick of judgment or criticism, we use discernment to protect the vulnerable, open heart, creating distance from those who can’t treat it tenderly, always opening ourselves to compassion and recognition of Oneness at all times. While the partnership may be almost extraordinarily boundaryless, boundaries are necessary for those who aren’t yet ready to be delicate with the vulnerability of the heart as it opens and awakens. Sometimes we have to dial down the intimacy dial as an act of self care, but that doesn’t mean we close the heart or judge others. We simply pull the Aikido move and step to the side, with love of others but also love of self.
In my kind of spiritual relationship (recognizing that others will have a very different path), I envision an extraordinary combination of unconditional love and total freedom within a very open construct of monogamy, where monogamy isn’t a prison based on fear that threatens to possess another or shame another if it is violated; it’s a daily choice between two individuals who choose to be only with one another, day after day after day. Every day, both parties are inspired to be the person their partner most wants to be with, even when there’s a whole big wide world of choice out there. If the day comes where one wants to be with another, there is no prison and no shame, no wrathful jealousy or possessiveness. Honesty is crucial to trust, so both partners promise to always tell the truth, even if it’s hard to admit. Communication is wide open and truth is shared gently and with great respect. The door is open and the other is free to communicate their desire to be with another, but not impulsively, without first examining whether there are areas of the relationship in need of repair which might make one party vulnerable to seeking physical connection or falling in love with someone else. If both parties are committed to healing that which can be healed and one partner still chooses to be with another, they are free to follow their heart. Some monogamous relationships have expiration dates, and that doesn’t have to equal failure. As souls, every relationship teaches us something.
A Commitment to Kindness
In a relationship committed to the spiritual path, love is a feeling, but kindness is an action. I envision a relationship where kindness to self is a primary value for both partners, so that kindness to the other is a natural byproduct of self-kindness and self care. Rather than giving until we’re depleted and then resenting the other, we give only what we have to give, from the open heart, not from fear that we won’t be loved if we don’t over-give. This is not a selfish act. It is a generous act of love to be gentle and loving and compassionate to self so there is bountiful overflow of loving kindness to the other. The actions of love that arise from care of the self can be extraordinary, but they rarely arise from the depleted, resentful, self-sacrificing being. When you treat yourself like the Divine being that you are, your heart opens and gives generously to others, almost effortlessly.
Sexuality as a Spiritual Path
In a spiritual partnership, sex becomes a gateway to communion with the Divine, rather than simply a mutual quest to get off. With love and tenderness holding the vulnerability of the heart safe in an ocean of trust, physical intimacy becomes a gateway to expanded states of consciousness, where you see the Divine in the eyes of your beloved, and you are seen as the embodiment of the Divine in the eyes of your beloved. As you share breath and heartbeats, you experience pleasure not just from the superficial level of genital orgasm, but from the deep heart connection and deep pleasure of full-bodied ecstatic union. As two people commune sexually as a gateway to spiritual connection, unhealed wounds can be cleared, conflicts between the partners can be healed, and Divine love can enter the union as a reminder of what is possible when unconditional love marries the flesh.
A Continuous Commitment to Growth
Because we are human, sometimes we go unconscious, and we need our partner to help illuminate our blind spots—gently and with love, but also fiercely, as someone who stands for the soul of the beloved. A spiritual relationship requires continuously being willing to shine light on the dark places, even when it gets uncomfortable. We have to be willing to see therapists or spiritual counselors or wise friends who can help us grow, especially when we grow blind. A humble commitment to a lifetime of growth is tantamount to a spiritual relationship. The minute we are arrogant enough to think we are “there,” we must insert a question mark and adopt the mantra my mentor Rachel Naomi Remen gave me—“Be curious.” This puts us into beginner’s mind, where we’re willing to not know, where we’re open to growth, even if it feels uncomfortable.
When two people are on a continuous journey to wake up to our true essence, to peel back the layers of ego to bring more of the soul’s light into the relationship and into the world, miraculous things can happen. I know. I have glimpsed such a relationship, though I’m still currently single. This kind of relationship can be extraordinarily intense, and if both partners aren’t ready, even the most intensely growth-enhancing spiritual relationship can flame out. But I have faith. I can feel this kind of partner coming closer, as I clear everything within me that would make me not yet ready for this kind of partnership.
Be the Partner You Desire
It all starts with becoming the kind of partner you would want to be with. If all of this resonates with you and ignites a deep longing for something you don’t yet have, surrender your desire to the Universe. Align your energy with that which your soul yearns for. Ask for Divine help co-creating what you desire, or ask that your longing lessen so you can relish life without a partner. Do your inner work. Unblock your blocks. Open your heart. Face your shadows without self-judgment. Let in as much light as you can stand. Then accept. Accept. Accept what is. Stop resisting. Let life flow through you. Radiate. Don’t grasp at what you want so desperately. Become magnetic instead, then let go again.
As Tosha Silver says, “The very act of grasping for the feather creates the wind current that pushes it away.” Let go. Let God. Trust. Enjoy life. Celebrate beauty. Be grateful for everything. You are worthy of love.
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About the author:
Lissa Rankin, MD is a mind-body medicine physician, founder of the Whole Health Medicine Institute training program for physicians and healthcare providers, and the New York Times bestselling author of Mind Over Medicine: Scientific Proof That You Can Heal Yourself & The Fear Cure. She is on a grass roots mission to heal healthcare, while empowering you to heal yourself.
Lissa blogs at LissaRankin.com and also created two online communities – HealHealthCareNow.com and OwningPink.com. She is also the author of two other books, a speaker, a professional artist, an amateur ski bum, and an avid hiker. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her daughter.