The practices of sacred partnership are numerous, but here are some that we have found to be tremendously helpful. Please don’t be confined to these offerings of practices. Find some of your own that are specifically tailored to the needs of your unique relationship.
1. Sacred combat is the art of handling differences well, with an intention to learn. In the area of sacred combat, we have opportunities regularly to practice the skill of working with the differences that come up in our relationships in an artful way. The self-discipline of the warrior of the heart allows us to keep our mouth shut, clear feelings, and to spare our partner ever hearing about our discomfort, which is a great gift to them. If we are unable to clear the feeling, our practice of self-discipline allows us to communicate our anger in a way that is more likely to be clean and clear, rather than attacking and blaming. The courage of the warrior of the heart allows us to speak our truth rather than withdrawing and withholding.
It is in setting our sacred intention to learn, we let go of the need to be right and the need to win. At first, there is a conscious choice to practice personal disarmament, to put down our arms, all the defenses that we have been holding to protect ourselves. We practice “standing in the fire.” We consciously choose to feel the emotional pain, rather than to flee. We learn to express our differences consciously. There can be enormous passion, but the connection continues throughout. As we continue to practice, the anger, tension, defensiveness, manipulation, and in the impulse to control just slip away.
When we have done enough work on our own self-awareness, we are less likely to project shadow on the other. Our practice of cultivating the tender heart, allows us to dive down under the anger, to find the vulnerable feelings of fear and pain. As we refine the art of our effective fight style, we bring peace into the world.
2. Sacred Sexuality is bringing focused attention to the sexual connection with tenderness and creativity. When we practice sacred sexuality, we slow down the process of our interaction to be fully present in the moment. We are touching and being touched as a sacrament. To be present moment to moment in each caress allows a heightened awareness of the sensual pleasure that our connection brings forth. We move into a non-ordinary state of reality where we see our beloved as divine, and experience the divine in ourselves. To look into each other’s eyes as we make love is so beautiful, as we consciously choose to open ourselves up to have our partner look right into our very soul. Our sexual connection becomes divine play. The pleasures that we receive, we offer as a gift to the divine.
3. Shadow Work is owning the disowned self, and cultivating our finest qualities. In intimate connection, we practice allowing our boundaries to become permeable. It is in the merger that we can experience oceanic bliss and a taste of heavenly realms. But intimate connection is not all gold and white heavenly light. It is also the dark shadow, the mistakes, failures, betrayals, distrust, dishonesty, inadequacy, fear, selfishness--all of it. It is in exposing the many forms of our dark side that we feel seen. It is here that our partner sees our worst and still loves us.
In doing shadow work, we take on the sacred challenge of finding the parts of ourselves that we don’t want to believe that we are. We make a conscious commitment to seek out and befriend, those parts of us that we feel so ashamed of, the dark side of our personality. This is the part of ourselves that we fear, that if people knew about that they would hate us and leave us in isolation. We fear our crazy thoughts, our deep desires, our fears, mistakes, failures, and neuroses. We have tried to compensate for them by trying to be very clever, rich, successful, and helpful. Underneath in the shadow, is the fear that we’ll be found out and ultimately rejected.
The incredible power that committed partnership offers is the possibility of flushing up every single thing that has been hidden in the shadow. It is in the relentless nature of the work, and the immediacy, that heats up the process of coming into integrity. The fire is hotter than anywhere else, to burn away that which we are not. The false-self system is burned to a crisp. It provides us the opportunity, finally, once and for all, to be free from the fear that we are not good enough. We change the way we relate to our dark side. Instead of revulsion and disgust, we begin to cultivate a more tolerant attitude toward that part, which after all is part of us. This is transformative power of mature love, a love which has seen it all and is unflappable.
Sacred Partnership is not possible without shadow work. As long as we’re still hiding parts of ourselves, we can’t open fully to the love of our partner. It is only by revealing our fears, failures, and inadequacies, that we feel completely seen. Once we know that they know all, and still love us, we can receive their love. As we meet the dark side of ourselves, move to a level of deeper acceptance and love of self, there is room for more love from others.
As we open to the dark side, we find stashed in there, the best of who we are, the golden shadow, our greatest self. Both sides are the gift that we bring to the relationship. Then our stance in life is not hiding, but: “I bring all of who I am to you; I hold no part of myself back; I am here with you fully, and I open to receive you fully!”
4. Resuscitating dying love and re-building damaged trust. There may be times that our connection goes flat and becomes predictable, lifeless, and dry. Each person may be leading parallel lives, with little overlap. The relationship is suffering from lack of interest, and lack of vitality, lack of connection. Such a numbing situation can be the very catalyst that will prompt us to convert to a new style of relating. The old form that kept us locked in superficial patterns, our image intact, can give way to a more dynamic form of relationship.
On the other hand, our relationship may be burning to death because of rage, bitterness, and blame, we need to learn the methods that can cool down the heat, and deal with the differences with greater respect and skill.
In either case, if we intend to have a transformative partnership, we had better be prepared for our relationship to change, to die and be reborn. As we leave how to revitalize our relationship and create them anew, we discover a powerful sacred technology.
Much of the pain that we create is our resistance to our own emotion and our resistance to our partner’s growth. One of the ways that we are disrespectful to them is by trying to get them to grow in accordance with our version of how they should do it. When we work with our own attachments, we begin to engage in a dance of being with each other that is free and playful.
For so many couples, when they hit the most difficult stages, they lose their relationship. The old form does need to die, but the relationship does not have to end. It is tragic, that when there is still some love left, or even a desire to bring the love back, there may be no vision of how to bring it back. There may be no hope of ever building the trust back after deep disappointments or betrayals. If there is motivation to rebuild, a transformative relationship may die many times, and reincarnate, each time to be more fulfilling than the last.
Stay tuned for more sacred practices in Part 3.
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“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” —Arielle Ford, author of TurnYour Mate into Your Soulmate
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