My man, Brad, and I have been practicing the Imago Dialogue since nearly the beginning of our relationship. Though the name sounds like a drama class exercise, it’s actually a simple map for communicating consciously that helps us each feel heard. About four months into dating Brad, I was covering a wellness conference and had full [...]
In these reflections on connections, teachers and students share ways to deepen and explore personal connections, from family and friends to sexual relationships.
Susan Abbattista, guest blogger This is a story about two women, a rebel, and a raisin. The first woman, an accomplished writer and arts aficionado, is quite lovely. She has the kind of rare beauty that inadvertently draws attention from men and women alike. Woman One moves through life with grace and ease, frequently hosting [...]
Holidays are about friends and family, eating copious amounts of comfort food, and enjoying our downtime. This year, in particular, we are faced with challenges that can weaken our immune system, and generally leave us feeling run-down, or drained. In the midst of holiday preparations we can lose sight of our exercise routines, our healthy eating habits, and our beneficial day-to-day patterns. On top of this, entertaining, late-night parties, and generally getting off our usual schedule can wear us down. Here are some tips for getting back into the groove during holiday time.
Relax! You have time off from work, so make good use of it and enjoy quiet time by the fire, reading books you’ve been yearning to pick up, getting back onto your cushion, and luxuriating in a hot bath. Since we don’t often make the time for self-care, take advantage of this opportunity for relaxation and rejuventation.
Lori Shridhare, guest blogger
One late evening in August 1990, I sat alone in the Bologna train station in northern Italy, frustrated that I had missed my overnight train to France. I was winding down my summer of backpacking through Europe and my last year as a teenager. Hot and sweaty, I had no choice but to take a local train with no sleeping cars for the hour-long journey to Milan, then several more hours to Lyon. I climbed aboard the crowded train and sat in a car with a priest and three women. As I settled into my seat, Walkman hugging my ears, a tall, distinguished twenty-something young man sat in the remaining seat across from me. His wavy blondish-brown hair curled behind his ears, with strands falling along his designer glasses. What stood out most to me were his clear aqua eyes, his suspenders strapped over his lavender button-down shirt, and his sharp nose. He looked like a European fashion model, and I hoped he’d be sitting across from me all night.
As a yoga girl who’s ever so slightly an introvert on the Myers-Briggs personality scale, I tend to be most comfortable with people one-on-one. In contrast, parties are not my thing: In about 10 minutes, my circuits are usually overwhelmed and I’m ready for a nap and a snack. As one snarky bodyworker once said a few minutes into our session, “I didn’t realize you were such a delicate little flower.” So it’s ironic that someone as energetically sensitive as me lives in a city like New York, where I’m often packed in with every flavor of human—sane, furious, nutso, aggressive, kind—in sardine-like proximity. The good news is that on the subway or in the streets, I don’t have to ask or answer questions for an audience. The bad news is that I have to work hard to not get squished by the enormous, busy humanity of it all.
What I’ve learned over the roughly 30 years I’ve lived in New York (born, raised, left, returned) is that being in a city is one of the best ways to practice energetic boundaries—essentially to not get squished and to not squash. To live in balance no matter how many tourists, artists, fashionistas, hip-hoppers, business dudes, or attack strollers are headed my way. Here are some lessons I’ve learned. I think they’re relevant for many of the spiritually sensitive among us and can be applied to being in crowds anywhere—at the mall, the supermarket, concerts, even while driving.
A satisfying relationship is one of life’s great blessings. Yet this has been both a source of joy and a source of frustration for me. As modern life has gotten faster and more demanding, the challenges of having a successful relationship seem to grow exponentially. Creating a healthy relationship, like raising children, may be among the hardest and most satisfying things we do in our lives. We want our partner to understand us and to see us for who we really are.
We all want our relationships to work. No one wants to fail. No one wants to give up expectations and hopes for the future. But, often, something isn’t working as we expect. The staggering divorce and separation rates are well documented and reflect the disappointments and failures of so many well-intentioned couples. I, too, had my dreams dashed when I got divorced, and nothing in my life has created more pain for me than the loss of my imagined future with my family.
Improving Your Relationship from the Inside Out
The marketplace is full of advice on how to improve your relationships. Such counsel has existed for centuries and there is much wisdom to tap. Yet the conditions we live in are different than ever before: demanding, complex, and continuing to change and evolve at a remarkable pace. The pressures of living the 24/7 life–the constant interruptions of new technology, increased productivity, the long hours–all complicate the challenge of creating a mutually satisfying relationship. Don’t we each feel a little bit of “speed shock”?
The self-reflective environment at Kripalu is conducive to teaching you valuable lessons about yourself. But it’s also an amazing experience to share with someone else. The first time I came to Kripalu, I brought my boyfriend, Mike. He’d only done yoga once, but he had gotten a glimpse of its potential to improve his well-being and was eager to learn more. He embraced learning more about his body and his breath as we spent a rejuvenating weekend together eating well, practicing yoga, and enjoying the peace. We were happy to find that Kripalu emphasizes a balanced approach to wellness, not just yoga. I remember the two of us being out on the lake, kayaking, and participating in what we called a floating meditation. It was just beautiful, with the quiet mental space that we cultivated together out on the water.
That weekend inspired us to begin a regular yoga practice together. We found a studio near our house in Boston and made an effort to take weekly classes, making room in our lives for a healthful and rewarding routine. Going to yoga as a couple gave us the extra motivation we needed to keep up a regular practice. We also decided we would like to continue going to Kripalu for R&R retreats when we could fit it into our schedules.
A few days into our 2009 stay, we were relaxed and centered, and decided to hike a nearby mountain. Once we got to the peak, Mike dropped down on one knee and proposed. Even though I secretly suspected that he might pop the question—he kept patting his pants pocket as we climbed—it was still overwhelming and so emotional to hear him ask me.
I’ll be honest here, maybe a bit sappy even. Want to know what my favorite song is? It’s “How Do You Keep the Music Playing?”, popularized by James Ingram and Patti Austin. Accompanied by some heartfelt harmonies, the lyrics ask the poignant question: How do you keep romantic love alive year after year?
I don’t know that there’s a one-size-fits-all answer because relationships are as different as snowflakes. But Joel and Kate Feldman, husband and wife for nearly three decades, longtime couples therapists, and founders of the Conscious Relationships Institute in Durango, Colorado, say couples in happy longstanding relationships tend to practice some of the same partnership-nurturing behaviors. After our Kripalu Perspectives podcast, they shared their favorite tips with me on how to deepen love and sustain intimacy: