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Making the active decision to commit to your partner is akin to engaging in a regular yoga practice; it is an invitation to transform. Just like the “act of practicing” yoga will awaken facets of your mind and body that might have otherwise remained dormant, so too can the act of practicing a relationship leave the same kind of imprint. Relationships like art, are living breathing things. When sculpting your optimal relationship and constructing frameworks for it, the mantra to consider is “the rule is no rule.” There are no right or wrong answers and there are no mistakes.
confronting our limitations
Joel encourages people to look at freedom as “a dimension of action rather than as an escape from something, as a living process instead of a goal. He believes the true spiritual quest involves considering what it is that binds us rather than questioning how we can become free. Couples have a tendency to idealize that bubble of bliss they experience in opening act of their relationship. As soon as the first disagreement transpires and the spell of falling in love starts to fade, they long for the effortlessness they enjoyed in the beginning. “Wanting a relationship to always feel good means avoiding conflict and discomfort,” and this Diana says, “also creates an imbalance as times goes on.” When challenges start to reveal themselves to us, we may have the impulse to give up, throw our hands in the air and find the next best thing. There is a marked chasm between the initial spark of chemistry and learning how to truly love a person.
Diana explains that just as in Hatha Yoga, “you must confront your physical limits in order to transcend them.” Since we typically avoid broaching prickly topics when the mood is pleasant, most of our “working out” happens in the throes of an argument when we are already sweating and our heart is pounding. Joel and Diana advocate making quarrels more like a tennis match—may the best man (or woman) win. They believe that disagreeing does not have to be malevolent; instead, strive to be truth seekers. Perceiving ourselves as part of the big picture, rather than the center of it, opens the possibility for more of an objective view.
Overtime our love can either evolve or stagnate—it is really up to our perception. Alstad eloquently wrote, “Each person has his or her own movement in life; sometimes the two flow together and other times conflict arises. There is no way to be harmonic all of the time and thinking you should be limits growth and stifles individuality.” Let us grow to be more curious about our mate, studying them and becoming experts on them.
your world, your mirror
The process of getting to know our significant other awakens facets of “self” that would otherwise remain dormant. In Exploring Relationships: Interpersonal Yoga, Diana states, “one cannot get to know oneself fully in isolation, for relationships uniquely ignite and reveal many aspects of the self.” Whether we are practicing yoga or spending time with our mate, we might as well be looking at a mirror reflection of ourselves. Through our interactions with others, we learn more about our own personalities, proclivities and idiosyncrasies than we would probably ever want to.
Diana suggests viewing this feedback as a gift rather than an attack. If we can be willing to make the act of giving and receiving feedback easier on both people, the exploration of self becomes an exciting discovery rather than an uncomfortable trip. The impact our romantic relationships have on us can be quite powerful. Diana compares the alchemy of a human bond to a water molecule and states, “no one touches us as deeply as those we are bonded with.” The intermingling of two hearts, two spirits and the entanglement of two bodies forever changes who we are.
The closest we can physically be to another human being happens through the act of sexual intercourse. This exchange of energy and fluids elicit bonding hormones and leave behind lasting emotional imprints. “Considering the tremendous explosive power there is in the interrelationship between atoms,” Diana explains, “it’s not surprising that intimate, personal relationships can produce such intensities as love, anger and jealously.” Being aware of the affect we have on those with whom we are intimate is integral to the success of the partnership.
the fidelity knot