Release Relationship Tension

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Don’t rush and don’t over-clench, slightly change position to find “home.” Be intentional and pure of purpose. Stay aware of your breath and feel how all comes from your center. When you let go, let it all go cleanly and without regret. Are these the words of a tantra instructor or yoga teacher? They could be, but they’re also instructions on how to draw, hold and then release an arrow from a bow.

I was reflecting on my love of archery today. It occurred to me that there is so much development involved in micro-skills and focused attention to each point of action. First, there is choosing or fashioning the equipment (which I have often made myself.) Secondly, the archer must pay attention to his/her attitude and stance. Then, there is nocking an arrow and drawing back the bow to the shooting position and aiming for the target. All effort to this point is negated if the actual release is not instant and smooth.

The obvious metaphor is to cleanly release our effort and development of mastery in any area of life. We do our best and then practice a healthy detachment from the results. A specific example is how a good parent devotes everything within his/her power to raising a child. We keep them fed, housed, clothed and loved and connected to their spirit and community and with awareness of their values. We incubate them in a spirit of love and community and then we let them live their own life. This doesn’t have to be “sink or swim,” but we cannot live their journey for them.

Another example is emotional tension in an intimate relationship. If each person can get in touch with their values and communicate them with clarity and respect there is a good basis for restoring harmony. But, holding back honesty or maintaining even a small resentment stands in the way of fully returning to love.

A botched archery release could be from improper grip or poor arm position. It could happen from letting out the fingers too slowly or by clenching the bow too tightly with the opposite hand. My action offerings with my chosen intimate partner and with all of life are done with a spirit of “I’m giving my best self as I best know how at this time and I want the best and highest for all AND no debt is created.”

My “job” is to connect to my center and develop habits and abilities that serve the best version of me and look for ways to serve life.

Beyond Fight or Flight – Responding to Relationship Stress

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I have several “F” words relevant to intimate relationship. They are: Fight, Flight/Fantasy, Faint/Fold, Freak/Flail, Freeze, Fix, Fun, Feel and Fuck

Our teachers in school told us that humans essentially only have two main responses to stress (that being fight or flight). But, I have witnessed many other responses (that also begin with the letter F) I’ll list them below and then elaborate more on the last one.

To “Fight” would be meeting opposition with opposition. For example, yelling back / lashing out at someone when you are surprised or offended. (“I think you’re a bleeping jerk!”) Sometimes it can take the form of aggressively “building a case” verbally against another person. This is an unfortunate choice, but often a familiar default action. The Fight response can also be a mechanism to support FEAR of being vulnerable and open. Which is the opposite of being non-defensive.

A “Flight” is to run away, to abandon the field or to emotionally “bail”. The acronym “FEAR” could be “Fuck Everything And Run” or may refer to the opposite choice of “Face Everything And Recover” (which would closely relate to the choice of “Fuck” as you’ll read later in this article). Often, we are operating out of a “Fantasy” story / old belief we are running. We’ll run a story around in our mind about what a given event means. In this case, we’re not recognizing the difference between what happened and what it means.

To “Faint” (or “Fold”) is to simply isolate and withdraw from conflict. This may look like a collapse into self-pity or apologizing/ whining. We’ve all seen the person who blames others or external circumstances to validate why they can’t take action for themselves. This often leaves the other person feeling lost as to how to proceed when their partner is not present.

To “Freak” (or “Flail”) would be to act outrageously and let your emotions and words go out of control. We’ve all seen (or done) it. It’s not pretty. Need I say more?

To “Freeze” is to become emotionally paralyzed. As in, not knowing what to do next and so doing nothing. This can occur when we have too many choices to sort out easily and so become “stuck” in indecision. It can also occur when we’re re-traumatized by an event. If this is you, it is wise to have additional resources in place ahead of time.

I apply the term “Fix” for the response of immediately trying to make you and/or others feel better. This person views the situation or emotion as a problem quickly helped by reasoning or an immediate offering of some type. This person is often an “advice-giver”. It can be helpful to ask yourself which person is more uncomfortable (you or they). “Am I really trying to make myself feel better by attempting to console the other person?”

What I mean by “Fun” is to respond to interpersonal stress by joking, distraction or otherwise making light of something that is worthy of honest attention and dignity. This type of relationship avoidance can feel very dishonoring. Distraction of this type is an ego-protection strategy (and the solution is to “Feel”).

To “Feel” is the antidote to “Fun” or distraction, meaning to simply be present for the consequences / pain of what has occurred. This involves a commitment to vulnerability and truth. This is also what lowers the emotional wall between two people. When we can identify and communicate our beautiful needs the connection is strengthened and everyone wins. In the Spanish language, the term for “I’m sorry” is “lo siento”, which actually means “I feel”. How beautiful and connecting is that?

Lastly, to “Fuck” (for the purpose of this article) is to engage life on life’s terms, to dive in and “go for it”. This is an attitude of “let’s wrestle with our difficulty and engage what’s real and penetrate the center of what is happening”. “Let’s play in possibility and embrace what is” is another way of saying it.

When strong emotions arise there is a purity of need under the outward expression. In compassionate communication we try and identify the need of the other person in order to reach a place of empathy within ourselves. We are connected to other people by our needs and that engagement fosters understanding. Feeling our own needs and reaching for connection is an evolved way of living a hero’s journey.

The first eight responses are symptomatic of being “off” or not connected with my own center. Ideally, I would rather center myself (connect inwardly) first because I want to act in congruence with my core values, the essence of who I really am. I want to show up for my partner and myself integrated with my values. As I gain in skill (by practicing when I don’t want to) this connecting to self happens more automatically.

I want my partner bring me her pain so I can feel her. Her feeling “less than happy” is need-to-know information for me. I can then reach down into myself and feel her beautiful need and connect with her / dance with her struggle. We learn about our power and our own essence by doing this. One of my teachers, Baba Dez, wisely says “every moment is a date with power”.

So next time there is relationship tension observe your response and see if you can shift into a willingness to engage and embrace what is up. Be fearless and honest with yourself. Perhaps you’ll end up sexualizing or erotisizing the issue. As long as it is making love with the texture of what’s real in real-time rather than a palliative or distracting effort. Surprise your partner, dive into the depth and go for it!

How to Hug

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A wonderful way to connect with your partner when you first meet after an absence is a simple, energetically-clean hug. This can tune your energies by simply placing your bodies together with no obligation to do more. When you’re in closer energetic harmony, then it is easier to move to greater intimacy or you may just allow the loving touch to be a renewing contact.

The technique is as follows:

Take your partner into an embrace.

Each of you stands with your weight on your own feet.

Be in stillness.

You should each primarily feel of yourself (this is very important).

Give yourself time to relax into your own body. Feel at home in your own space.

Look for your own depth of feeling.

Tune in to who you are / your purpose in this moment.

Breathe slowly, deeply and easily.

Allow yourself to just be.

You will find that both of your energies and feelings shift by simply putting your bodies together in a centered and still way.

More thoughts on togetherness

Too often it is easy to energetically “over-give” or to get into your partner’s energetic space without realizing it. Remaining grounded in your togetherness provides the other person an invitation for authentic action. I must first be connected with myself in order to really be present for my partner. It is my steady presence that she desires most.

Share the space between you rather than occupying it all yourself. Over-merging reduces sexual charge. You don’t want to surround yourself with a thick emotional wall at one extreme, but “giving your all” while holding nothing back for yourself is also un-appealing. Neither state is attractive to an awakened woman. I give her the best of me when I rest in the center of my heart and allow a higher love to shine through me.

In Sacred Sexuality we talk about “conscious touch”. This is to put heightened attention at your hands and being more aware of the impact / effect of your touch. Touching should not be a “take”, but an intent of giving will feel more like a sweet gift by the receiver.

Releasing attachments is a helpful practice to honor each persons sovereign space. You may also simply gaze in each other’s eyes and hold the intentions with these words as you declare out loud:

I honor you

I bless you

I release you

Guiding Principles for Relationship

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Do you know how sometimes you hear or read something and you just get the truth of it instantly?

I’ve compiled a list of short statements below that help to define an ideal relationship to me. Some of them are original thoughts and some of them I just grocked right away.

Every once in a while I’ve come across a statement that describes how I want my intimate relationship to look and feel. These don’t need much examination or research, I just get it on a bone-deep level. Anyway, here they are:

Relationship Guiding Principles

Companionship without cling

Friendship without manipulation

Friendship over form

Love without conditions

Affectionate touch without obligation

Humor without sarcasm

Listening without judgment

Answers without shadow

Service without expectation

Support not suppression

Solutions instead of complaints

Acceptance without guilt or manipulation

Generosity of heart over attachment

I also find it helpful to speak these words silently in meditation as a way of orienting to unconditional love and acceptance:

I honor you

I bless you

   I release you

Tony Robbins teaches that true honesty is not telling someone else what you think of them, but being honest with yourself about your own motivations. I also find the Hawaiian Ho’oponopono prayer incredibly useful to keep the focus on my own shortcomings and staying in empathy and compassion vs. trying to over-examine other people.

I review this list every once in a while and honestly critique my own behavior and motivations. I ask myself: 1 – Do I love this principle?  2 – Do I offer this?

In this spirit, I recommend a song by Alanis Morissette, “You Owe Me Nothing In Return”. She sings to a generosity of spirit and great love and of being whole unto oneself. She is one of my relationship heroines.

Conscious Relationship Ending

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This is simply one way to navigate a “breakup”. I do not mean to imply this is the best method for everyone.

My intimate partner and I recently shifted into being non-sexual friends and allies. I honor truth and depth and openness and, knowing this, my woman came to me with her difficult truth. She told me about her journey calling her in way that did not resonate with being “pair-bonded” with me any longer. (I was dumped!)

Wow! Time to actively choose openness over closure… if possible. At the end of our discussion, she asked me what I wanted. All I needed to say had been said and I felt complete in the conversation. I told her that I wanted to have sex. She asked why. I told her that my heart was wide open and that I felt supercharged with energy. She suggested next week and I said that I would likely not feel this way next week.

So we created a closure lovemaking ritual, but my strong feelings of only minutes earlier evaporated. I felt emotionally numb. So we did what we know to do at those moments, which is to lie down together and breathe. We placed our bodies together in a way that aligned our energy (spooning) and breathed in sync. In this type of union personal energies attune (much like tuning forks).

Once we were in tune with each other the two-hour sacred sexuality ritual that evolved organically was deep, tender, wild and bittersweet. We gave of ourselves completely and with abandon. At the conclusion we felt whole, full and in love. And the truth remained that our paths were diverging.

From this night we were no longer in a sexual relationship and there were more feelings and issues that arose as time went on. We processed most of this “stuff” with other people. Attempting to make your partner your therapist is a bad policy. It is also kindest to process issues dealing with another person with out-of-area friends.

After two weeks apart for reflection, we came together for an evening designated primarily as my time to speak everything that I wanted to say. This was the following:

1 – My appreciations to her

2 – What I want in my life

3 – What I’m willing to do to create my new life

4 – My apologies to her for my shortcomings

5 – Asking her to speak to how being with me has helped her

6 – What specific relationship loss are we each grieving?

7 – How I want to interact going forward

Then she spoke what she wished to say to me.

By maintaining our shared values of integrity and clarity, and in recognizing that our relationship has been characterized by mutual kindness and generosity, we allowed ourselves to transition beyond our previous dynamic while still emotionally supporting each other.

Longevity is not necessarily the best metric to judge the success of a relationship. My time with this woman was a beautiful love chapter in my life. We served each other well by recognizing that our intimacy togetherness had reached it’s zenith, and like artists on the trapeze, we let go to be open for the next blessing life will bring.