Five years ago I reconnected with a man I once felt divine love with. It was at Amma’s ashram in San Ramon, California. It was just months after I returned from India and was finding my footing living in the Bay Area again. I went to Amma’s that night, excited to re-immerse myself in the energy of India.
I had spent the last year and a half in a deep inner transformation, becoming a yoga teacher, attending meditation retreats, visiting spiritual teachers across India, and learning powerful lessons from another experience of love in my life. When my previous relationship ended, I realized I was okay, having found a deep love within and for myself through my spiritual inquiry.
I showed up at Amma’s, to pay my respects for all I had learned and to pray for this new phase of my life. I happened to walk up to the temple at just the exact moment Amma was about to arrive. Everyone around me was dressed in white, praying and waiting in silence.
In a moment, a white car pulled up and the door opened for Amma. She walked through the entrance smiling and waving at people as she walked inside. Just as she passed, I locked eyes with a familiar face on the other side of the aisle.
It was a man I had met a year and a half before, before I went to India, before I had become a yoga teacher, before I had done this deep inner work. His name was Michael.
I met him when I was first living in San Francisco when my housemate, a musician, invited me to join a music-walking tour he was a part of through the Marin Headlands and up to Point Reyes. The musicians had planned an acoustic folk show for every night along the way and were going to hike on the Pacific Coast Trail and camp between shows. All the musicians met at the Golden Gate Bridge, where I first met Michael.
But back to that moment at Amma’s, I immediately recognized him and remembered the love I had felt for him long before, standing above the Pacific ocean on the Golden Gate Bridge. That moment of recognition quickly dissolved as Amma began to speak, guiding the group through a meditation. Afterwards, I went over to Michael and gave him a hug.
“You were the first person to tell me about Amma,” he said. “I spontaneously said yes to an invitation to come here this evening…”
It’s been five years since that night and Michael and I are still together. This past year in particular has brought about huge transformation within myself and within my relationship, so I wanted to honor this milestone by sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned over the past five years of falling deeper in love…
1. Be Honest and Transparent
Honesty establishes trust.
I remember attempting to string together lies when I was younger, and it just never ever panned out the way I wanted it to. I quickly learned honesty was the only answer, and that even if honesty was sometimes hard, I could always find a way to be honest at the same time as being compassionate and loving.
Honesty is about speaking the truth when you are asked, and transparency takes honesty a step further. Transparency is when you speak the truth even when you are not asked. Imagine something comes up that involves you and your partner, and you are holding on to feelings or emotions...
Transparency is when you speak up right away and get to the heart of the matter rather than holding it in and keeping it to yourself.
In order to be transparent we need to feel safe. We need to create a space of non-judgement for our partner and ask that they hold that space for us as well.
An example where Michael and I have found ourselves to be more transparent in the last year, is if one of us feels attraction with someone else. In the past it felt scary to speak of it, it felt like it needed to be some big secret we could never tell the other, but now, we just name it. We allow there to be non-judgement. We bring humor to it. We remind each other we are human, and we are safe with each other and our experience is completely valid.
We have even supported each other to explore those attractions, and spend time with the person we feel attraction with. What I have found in those instances is that attraction does not necessarily need to go in a sexual direction. Oftentimes there is an attraction when we have medicine and lessons to learn through spending time with that person. Giving myself permission to explore those attractions has only deepened the love I have for my partner.
I realize now that there is nothing I could share with Michael that would cause me to lose love.
Finding that sense of security and trust has been so healing. Holding that space for him has deepened my ability to love unconditionally and provide a space of healing for him as well.
You know how sometimes you can just tell your partner is upset about something but they are being all quiet about it? You ask what’s going on, but they just shrug it off as nothing? You then begin to feel distance, wondering if you did something wrong, unsure of how to re-establish a space of love and connection again?
I’m going to teach you the exercise that has literally saved my relationship, countless times in this exact situation. It’s called Acknowledgment and Request. I first learned about it in the book Kindred Spirit by Matthew and Terces Engelhart (some of you may know them as the founders of Cafe Gratitude).
Simply ask, “Is there anything you want to be acknowledged for?” Allow your partner to speak, and do the best you can to be present and aware in your listening. When he or she finishes ask, “Is there anything else?”
Keep asking, “Is there anything else,” while intently listening and doing the best you can to remember each thing. Now, it’s also important not to react or reply to what your partner is saying. Simply give them the space to speak and have the floor. When he or she is complete, lovingly repeat back each and every thing that was said, acknowledging him or her for it.
When that is complete ask, “Do you have any requests?” Do the same thing - asking, if there is anything else after each request. When the requests are complete, repeat back each one, sharing that you would like to honor those requests to your best ability.
Sometimes it makes sense for both partners to have the floor to be acknowledged, and sometimes it makes sense for just one of us.
Every time I have used this exercise, it has felt like we are starting fresh again with a clean slate. it has allowed us to create a container of safety and honesty to let go of all the stories and illusions we may have been carrying and fully see each other with love again. It has helped us to fully let go of and forgive, without the need to hold on to past upsets.
To have a more in-depth, step by step guide of how this process it works, read my article here.
3. Create Layers of Support
A year ago I had a rude wake up call when my partner was away for two weeks and I realized how much I had been relying on him for support in my life.
One of my friends Kevin shared, "If you're only relying on one person in your life, it's like you're standing on top of a flagpole. That's a lot of pressure on one person, especially if his or her life is calling him or her to be elsewhere."
I imagined myself standing on top of a flagpole, shaky and worried of falling.
He continued, "However, if you become like a spider, with many legs supporting you, it's okay if one of them takes a break. You still have seven other legs to lean on."
When you are supported in all directions, your weight is evenly distributed. It is so much healthier.
I think it's really easy to get swept up in relying on just one person for our emotional, physical and mental needs. However, when we create more structures of support through friendships, therapy, coaching, healers, and especially in community, we can really thrive.
Over the past year, I brought awareness to becoming the spider and creating layers of support so my weight would always be easily distributed.
This year, when my partner went away for the same retreat for two weeks, I felt infinitely supported.
My days were full with connection and love. I realized how much I had transformed over the past year, and how my ability to receive support created a deeper sense of freedom and independence within the relationship.
4. Find Intimacy Outside the Relationship
Are you finding intimacy with yourself?
Do you find intimacy in your friendships?
Or do you wait to experience intimacy solely in one relationship?
It’s a lot of pressure to expect to receive all the love and intimacy we want in our lives through just one person. This past year I’ve looked at where I am giving and receiving intimacy in my life and have experimented with deepening intimacy outside of my relationship.
The first place I looked was with myself. I found when I could experience a deeper sense of intimacy with myself, it always improved the relationship. This is where my practices of self-love came in - taking long bubble baths, massaging fine oils into my skin, repeating loving affirmations while I brush my teeth, keeping up with my yoga practice and making a delicious and healthy meals for myself, even if I’m eating alone… (For more self-love & self-care tips download my 4-day self-care reset here)
I also began to bring intimacy into my friendships. I brought gifts. I asked deeper and more intimate questions. I shared loving touch, essential oils, sometimes brought flowers or chocolate.
Finding intimacy outside of the relationship this past year for both of us has deepened the intimacy within our relationship.
When I am feeling filled up, I am able to be so much more generous and offer that love to my partner. However, if I show up depleted and expect my partner to give me that feeling of wholeness, it’s just not going to work.
Love is so much about generosity and our ability to give, and it takes us showing up as our best selves in the relationship, not just expecting the relationship to give that to us.
5. Share Appreciation, Everyday
After reading the book, Calling in the One by Katherine Woodward Thomas, I decided to try out one of her exercises of writing a letter to God, or the Universe.
The idea goes that you write about all your challenges in a letter to God and sign it, “Sincerely, your name.” Then turn the page and begin a new letter, this time from God to you.
I tried out this exercise once when I was feeling some challenge in the area of relationship, and one of the things “God” or really, my higher self wrote back to me was to share what I appreciated about Michael with him every day.
The task immediately took me out of a feeling of lack and brought light to all that was wonderful about this person in my life.
I don’t think our minds are naturally looking for all the good in our lives and what we appreciate. It just took a bit of awareness and training in order to switch my mindset around to see and appreciate the people in my life, and really, everything in my life.
If you are looking to create or call in a thriving relationship, I highly recommend checking out Katherine's book, Calling in the One.
Bonus Tip: Lead by Example
After speaking with my friend Luna Love about how she attracted the love of her life into her world, I felt inspired to add one more bonus tip for you all. This is especially helpful for those of you ready to call in partnership in your life, but it also works if you are already in relationship.
Write a list of everything you want in your ideal partnership, and what you’d like your ideal partner to be like. Then look at that list and ask yourself, “Am I embodying every one of these qualities?”
Relationships are powerful mirrors, and often what we want to see more of in ourselves is what we say we want to see in our partners.
However, we can take the pressure off our partner to be someone else by simply becoming that ideal partner we want to attract. That is when we inspire change in those around us and call in the kind of people we want to be surrounded by.
People don’t change because someone wants them to. People change because they are inspired to...
For more on this topic, check out my other post, 6 Secrets to A Fulfilling Love Life.