Yoga is about union—a higher state of relationship and, by association, a higher state of consciousness. Conscious relationship is not something we engage in by default. More often than not, we fall into—and accept—relationships of convenience.

Relationships of convenience are not a bad thing, but they are neither mindful, nor planful. They arrive in our lives and we often simply accept them as a given. Conscious relationship is a bit more deliberate. Not unlike the pursuit of higher consciousness, it involves examination, circumspection and unpacking emotions.

Often playing to our insecurities, relationships of convenience fall into the container of ‘good enough’, as opposed to ‘what do I want and deserve’. It is, in part, why the bread and butter of relationship bloggers often focuses on the five things you should have been looking for instead of six-pack abs or a deep-pocket portfolio and why, in hindsight, you’re now unsatisfied, or even miserable. In a rather unbalancing paradox of presence, these kinds of relationships focus on the right now, as opposed to the ‘what’s it going to look like 20 years from now’.

By contrast, conscious relationship takes a breath. Rather than running headlong down the garden path laid out by some arbitrary social blueprint, there is a pause. Just as in the physical practice of yoga, personal and spiritual growth comes in the spaces between the poses—the pause and transition—the yoga of relationship encourages ‘being’ inside the ‘doing’.

What does ‘being’ look like, exactly? It’s about both being with our emotions and being OK with them. That starts with releasing the ‘shoulds’ that tend to shackle us and genuinely recognizing how we feel in relation to something or someone. So, first, we must identify our shoulds. That means not only questioning our values, but deciding if they are indeed our values in the first place.

The social blueprint is the sources of our shoulds. It’s informed by the socialization and acculturalization—our expectations, assumptions and ideas about the way the world works—that underpins our worldview. The thing is that, rather than being self-selected, our worldview is often imposed. Questioning that imposition is the entre to questioning our shoulds.

For instance, if you think about where the silverware drawer is in your kitchen, about 80% of you will find—taking into account configuration—it’s pretty much where it was in the house where you grew up. Why is the silverware drawer where it is? Well, because that’s where it goes—and therein lies the rub.

The silverware drawer is one small piece of the reality we have architected for ourselves based on our shoulds. What if we began to question all of those shoulds? Why do we need to get married or cohabitate? Why must we have children? Why do we need to own our own home, or have a traditional occupation?

If we stop to examine these imperatives, we’ll likely find that some match up with our values. We may also find that some don’t, suggesting a shift of some sort is in order. This shift is where we move from our comfort zone into our growth zone. Growth, in part, means being comfortable with change. This means first examining our feelings about the potential for change the conflict presents, then deciding what, if anything, to do about it.

For example, we often stand by our life-long friendships without reconsideration. They are a given—a should. They have always been there, and will likely remain. What if, however, you experience a major life change, like a divorce or radical misfortune, and discover the person whom you thought you could undoubtedly count upon was unsupportive—or even critical—of your new circumstances? In the moment, this might be upsetting or feel hurtful. On the other hand, the experience could prompt you to question, not just the moment, but the entire fabric of the relationship, leading to the realization this wasn’t something new, but had always been an aspect of your relationship. With this, we might choose to stand still and simply accept this realization—because that’s where the silverware goes, after all. We may, conversely choose to step off the path of the ‘should’ and, instead, follow the path of ‘this is what I want and deserve’.

At some point, we all meet this particular devil at the crossroads, and we’re faced with a choice. In the case of our ‘shoulds’, however, the parable is a paradox. Rather than giving up our soul to get something we want, we are sending the devil packing, reclaiming ourselves and courageously embracing the life-changing choice of a more conscious and authentic life.

What are your thoughts on releasing 'shoulds' and enhancing authenticity in your life. Leave a comment, or contact Michael to learn more.

© 2017 Michael J. Formica, All Rights Reserved

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