Closing the Spiritual Gap in Your Relationships
Closing the Spiritual Gap
in Your Relationships
If you’re a spiritual person, or someone who has done any kind of self-improvement or consciousness work, you’ve no doubt noticed there can be quite a gap between your highest spiritual ideals and the everyday world of work, laundry, and relationships. Let’s look at what makes up that ‘gap’ and what it takes to close it. The aim, after all, is to integrate our highest ideals into normal, everyday life.
It seems like it can be much easier to achieve and maintain spiritual attunement when we’re meditating in the forest or living in seclusion. But that’s not where we live. Living as an awakening spiritual being while fully engaging in deep, intimate relationship is the ultimate test of enlightenment. In the worldly swirl of love and life, our lofty spiritual ideas seem to evaporate into thin air, POOF! . . . just like that!
What causes us to lose contact with a spiritual perception in our relationships? For most people, it’s fear: fear of loss, fear of failing, fear of being hurt or being misunderstood, fear of looking bad or the fear of losing control, the list goes on. Let’s face it; it takes courage to admit that we even have fears, especially if we have become well-practiced at hiding them, even from ourselves. Yet, this is required if we want the reality of our relationships to align with our spiritual ideals for them. The highest point of leverage for soulful relating is the ability to observe fears and get into right relationship with them.
First, we have to unlearn our habitual, unconscious ways of relating with our fears. This is not easy when fears are involuntary and upon us before we know it. Then, we’re in the middle of them and acting out of them. The real art is in learning how to keep our hearts open even when fear wants us to get angry, shut down, or languish in judgment. Sometimes, we are not as far along as we think we are. It’s not that easy and it doesn’t come without some form of practice and guidance.
I have been working on ‘closing the gap’ for going on forty years now. This has required nurturing a higher level of self-love and an abiding sense of safety than I ever could have imagined. And if I’m honest I’ll tell you I had rather meager rations of both when I started my journey of awakening.
Becoming the 'Impeccable Observer'
I couldn’t do it alone. I had to gain a sustained connection with my Soul so I could go deep into the basement of my unobserved fears. That’s where I could gain the wisdom and personal power that’s bound up in issues I couldn’t confront. I couldn’t see how my past was overshadowing my choices in the now. I wasn’t making my own choices; fear was making choices for me. And those fears interfered with my ability to tune into the transcendent voice of my Soul. Fear had been blocking my ability to trust the people who said they loved me.
The truth is, it was hard and often seemed impossible. My Soul contact was intermittent, like static on an old radio station. I needed someone with greater skill and a greater access to spiritual love to create a safe container for me to do this kind of deep, life-changing work. In the beginning I had teachers and mentors. Later it was Paul, my husband–to-be, who helped me the most. It was within the container of his commitment to help me live from my highest self that I learned the fastest. Then, I also had a community of dedicated spiritual compatriots who would tell me what I couldn’t see for myself. The help of others whom I learned to trust was an essential component of my integrated awakening. After a while it was easier and I became more confident and competent. I found a new state of being I now call the ‘Impeccable Observer.’
We can each learn to access our own Impeccable Observer. It gives us the power to make wise choices, to discern what is false and what is true. You can think of the Impeccable Observer as being ten times honest. It knows when we are lying to ourselves and how to be true to ourselves in our relationships. Your Impeccable Observer gives you clarity when you are allowing something you shouldn’t be allowing or when you need a little impulse control. It gives you the wisdom to know when you need to simply open your heart, as an internal action, or take outer action to solve a problem immediately. It gives you the discernment needed to own up to your part in a difficult quarrel.
This new point of perception gave me the determination needed to pause and breathe while my fear was screaming at me to hide myself or blame others for my feelings. I suffered, like all people do, when I couldn’t observe the part of my mind that projected my past into current situations. This projected past made situations seem dangerous when I was actually safe. The problem was my painful feelings didn’t feel like the past; they felt like right now, totally logical and justified in the moment. And my reactions happened so quickly it seemed impossible for me to manage them.
My fears often directed my perceptions and choices without my noticing it. I had coping strategies that kept people at a distance, all the while I was simultaneously yearning for closeness. Those coping strategies were hardwired and automatic. I didn’t recognize them as coping strategies against imagined fears. I couldn’t tell that my perception was distorted. I thought I was being smart, even when I was clueless. This unconscious dynamic crippled my ability to feel other’s love for me or trust them with any depth. It caused me needless suffering in my most important relationships. It was shaping my future in disastrous ways.
Scanning for the Choice Points
My coping strategies kicked into gear at high speed. The more practiced I became at detecting when my fears were in the driver’s seat, the more able I was to notice new choices I could make. Before, new choice points were whizzing by like the blurred details of the landscape when you’re driving fast down the highway. I couldn’t make new choices because I couldn’t see them.
With practice I could enter into the Impeccable Observer state and at will slow things down. As I practiced slow motion with my programmed protective mechanisms I began to detect new choice points. I wasn’t as vulnerable to my fight or flight response. I could choose not to react while I breathed slowly. I could now quietly name the feeling to myself, observing the images that came with the feelings. I could now ride the wave of emotional purification, even though the vulnerability was unpleasant. Somehow I was learning “I am safe” even when I didn’t feel safe.
My relationship with my own spiritual guidance flourished and I started noticing even more choice points that had been invisible before. We all have choices; small choices and big choices; choices that have the power to shift the quality of our life forever.
Choices like, should I stay or should I go? Should I speak my truth or remain silent? Should I offer to help this person or trust them to work it out on their own? Should I question authority or always follow the rules? – The kind of situations where there is no one-size-fits-all solution.
Now, more often than not, I can shift from fear to curiosity. I can listen for the voice of my ‘impeccable observer,’ which always opens the gates to love and right perception. It sees through the distortions of fear. And because of this new state of awareness I have changed my relationship with fear. Please understand, I am not claiming to be fearless. I still have fears, but I do know how to shift the gears of my awareness and observe my fears in a grounded, enlightened way. This gives me choice and freedom I never knew I could have. It gives me power over how I allow things to affect me. This helps me successfully navigate the twists and turns in life even through desperate circumstances.
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