Last week I was asked to be on a podcast with a friend and colleague to talk about conscious relationships. Conscious relationships are a spiritual practice and an excellent place for us to walk out the path of conscious love that the Christian wisdom path is all about.
We can choose to engage in conscious ways of relating with everyone whether the other is making this choice or not. And some relationships will be more mutually conscious with both people bringing this shared intention. We can choose to be in conscious relationship with ourself, other humans, living and non living ancestors or spiritual guides, God, non human creatures, animals, the earth, plants, and places.
Conscious relationships are a living breathing organism that must be tended to and requires discipline, attention, and awareness. Many of our interactions and relationships tend to be more unconscious and are characterized by habitual reactivity; not taking responsibility for reactivity rooted in historical fight, flight, fawn, and freeze states; low trust, high expectations, and have a tendency toward rigidity or unpredictability.
Conscious relationships have many practices involved in them but I came up with ten that have been helpful for me. These practices are a compilation and application of many influences including the Marital and Family Therapy Masters program I completed, the Gurdjieff Work, the wisdom path laid out by Cynthia Bourgeault, Steve Hoskinson’s Organic Intelligence, and some of my own. These are not in any particular order and they of course build on one another.
1. We can apply Gurdjieff’s practice of Conscious Labor to our relationships by becoming conscious or our interactions, remaining aware of ourself, and intentionally efforting to override our mechanical automatic patterns
2. We can Commit to Wholeness and Growth by seeing one another both whole and in process, accepting one another as we are and allowing one another to change
3. We can apply Gurdjieff’s practice of Self-Observation to our relationships by becoming more self-aware, seeing ourselves honestly and impartially as we are not as we wish to be
4. We can apply Gurdjieff’s practice of Intentional Suffering to our relationships by choosing to consciously embrace the suffering that is an inevitable part of misunderstandings and challenges as well as be willing to bear the negative manifestations of the other just as they do for us
5. We can Take Responsibility for Ourselves by recognizing that no one else is responsible for us and therefore learning to steward our own inner states, working toward responding rather than reacting, recognizing how you impact others, and repairing when necessary
6. We can learn to Tend to the Energy Exchange of the relationship by becoming aware that there are helpful and unhelpful energies we put into and withdraw from it and working toward equanimity
7. We can Cultivate Abundance vs Scarcity by focusing on what is working, what is good, and what we appreciate rather than what is missing; we address what isn’t working and then let go
8. We can Ask What Is Needed Rather Than What Do I Need which is about coming with the inner posture of what we can bring rather than what we can get
9. We can be Low Maintenance With Low Expectations and be flexible with realistic desires and expectations about what others can actually do
10. We can Cultivate Trust by a commitment to come with trust that we both have one another’s best interests at heart; Cynthia Bourgeault encourages to give trust rather than wait for it to be earned
If you would like to hear more about this topic, you can listen here.
In Goodness, Truth, and Beauty,
Here most of the Readings from this week's pauses:
“Gurdjieff had a “conviction that there is a certain cosmic expectation laid upon the human species as part and parcel of our participation in a dynamic cosmic web of “reciprocal feeding”. Our human contribution is made in the form of those higher energies of compassion and clarity generated as we submit ourselves to the practices of “conscious labor and intentional suffering”. The fruits of this transformed Being-energy are qualities such as peace, love, joy, forbearance, patience, compassion – traditionally known in Christian language as “the fruits of the spirit”. What makes Gurdjieff’s take so interesting is that these qualities are not only moral virtues but actual energetic substances needed for the feeding and building up of our common planetary (and interplanetary) life. When we fail to produce these qualities – or worse, produce the opposite, the “false fruits” of entitlement, greed, deceit, violence, and fear – then the whole cosmic equilibrium is thrown out of whack.”
— Cynthia Bourgeault
“Our wounds and traumas are not just a difficult personal inheritance, nor are they meant to be completely ‘healed’ or forgotten; our physical sense of having been hurt is not only our only true foundation of compassion for others and the pain they carry, but the actual doorway through which we may fully appear in the world again: a doorway through which we might give our creative gifts against all the odds, a portal through which we will manifest our ideas in good work that takes others into consideration and also, importantly a pathway by which our own difficulties enable us to change our society for the better. Our societies around the world are all opening at various paces, just as we are each as individuals in our own way, but the overall impetus is toward re-emergence and in a way, a re-dedication and reformulation of our unspoken and hidden promises. We are transforming these hidden promises, in order to transform our collective, outer, spoken promises. We are all emerging into this new post viral world together, but whatever world we re-emerge in will have many radically different outer forms into which we will have to carry many tried and ancient inner resources. These are inner powers of attention and attentiveness and I might say, an often hidden self-confidence, combined with courageous speech. . .”
We can “look at the phenomenon of inner hidden courage combined with an outer movement that can turn into good work. . . look at the way any new qualities we might have discovered may have come through having stopped our onward way during our lockdown, in ways that might now have radically transformed our understanding of the destination.”
— David Whyte
“We begin by disposing [ordering] our body. Let it be relaxed and calm, but inwardly alert...Deep prayer is the laying aside of thoughts. It is the opening of the mind and heart, body, and feelings, our whole being to God… We surrender to the attraction of interior silence, tranquility, and peace...Without effort, without trying, we sink into this Presence, letting everything go. We let Love alone, speak."
... We wait patiently in silence, openness, and quiet attentiveness. We surrender to the attraction to be still, to be loved, just to be.”
— Fr. Thomas Keating
“Time and again we have hurled our predictions imminent demise against the planet, and time and again we have awakened the next morning to the world still sweetly in place. Our earth seems infinitely more solid, more resilient, more forgiving than our favorite human brains. And yet the alternative is not simply to fall back to sleep proclaiming ‘all is well,’ for both the rate and the magnitude of change and even a day-to-day basis suggest that we are in a time of rapid acceleration, a dramatic jolt forward along some unknown timeline whose challenges we can no longer responsibly ignore. Wherever this planet is heading, it will require the best and deepest of our human hearts and minds to stay the course.”
— Cynthia Bourgeault
“The true warriors on the planet are those who have had to overcome tremendous hardships with very little or no support. The real super-heroes are those that have been so disillusioned by the world, so uprooted in their daily life, yet they find a way to get up in the morning and believe in life again. We want to co-create a society that elevates and supports these individuals.
We want to co-create a world that pulls humanity close, that refuses to let anyone fall off the edge, that breathes individuals back to life when they lose all hope, that moves the way love makes us move. In this world of divine possibility, we will never forget that we are all part of this human-nest. If even one is left out, the nest is empty.
Unity consciousness is not simply a beautiful vision of possibility- it is our best and truest hope. Until each and every one of us rises into fullness, the collective cannot actualize its wholeness. Until we all rush to the side of someone in need, we are all fractured beings. Until we all recognize that each of us is a magnificent reflection of the Godself, we are collectively blind. Until everyone has what they need to flourish, we are all birds with one wing. The measure of a healthy society is not how effectively it elevates its achievers, but how compassionately it supports those who have fallen. Our community is humanity. We rise or fall in unison.”
— Jeff Brown
“Prayer” by J.G. Bennett
And all your Conscious Powers
Through whom the Divine Will is manifested,
Let me be liberated from sleep, mechanicalness, and slavery,
And find refuge in Conscious Action, from which no evil can come.
Let me turn from the part to the Whole,
From the temporal to the Eternal,
From myself to Thee.