Planet Soul

Healthy Relationships Begin With Knowing Who You Really Are

Meditation can help you locate your truest self

There is nothing better than being in a loving, peaceful relationship with your spouse or partner — and nothing worse than being stuck in a relationship prone to tension and contempt. But to build a great relationship with someone else, you need to have a healthy relationship with yourself first.

Imagine you’ve just finished a wonderful meal and are relaxing by candlelight in your favorite spot, enjoying a piece of chocolate with your partner. It feels so good you almost don’t notice it. You experience an absence of wanting anything else. You feel whole without the need for more. This is fulfillment — and it exists within us all the time.

It can be easy to think that happiness and fulfillment can only be found externally, anywhere but within us. When we live our lives that way, we open the door to needless disappointment and suffering.

Everything we experience occurs in our conscious mind, which has two levels of awareness: the talkative mind, or ego, and our more natural self, the silent mind.

When we believe the endless stream of thoughts, ideas, opinions, judgments, and often negative self-talk of our active mind, we can develop a false identity. Our ego, the part of ourselves that seeks to be safe and secure, loves all this messaging, but we aren’t good at figuring out what to take in and what to let go. We rely too much on what is outside of us to satisfy our desire for fulfillment. It’s easy to become disconnected from our spirit, but when we tap into our true self, we discover the flow of life and abundant inner happiness.

The ego defines itself through comparisons with others. It needs to feel superior to preserve its self-identity because it is vulnerable, insecure, and fearful. The ego likes opposition because stark contrasts make self-definition easier. The ego is dominant, insidious, and ever-present. It needs to be grounded — and one way to do that is to nurture our inner self, the silent mind, our soul.

Beneath the talkative mind is the silent mind — a place of intuition, feeling, intelligence, heart, and spirit, which is our life source, our consciousness. When we tap into the silent mind, we discover our true essence, which enables us to bring the treasures of peace, gratitude, love, and joy into our lives. The silent mind is our core, where we can experience inner contentment.

When we meditate, we access that part of ourselves that is full of love, and we bring that positive energy into our lives.

Meditation helps us embrace the silent mind. When I first learned to meditate many years ago, I discovered a quiet, expansive place — a part of me I didn’t realize existed beneath the talkative mind — that is full of joy and peace. I became the observer of my thoughts instead of just lost in them. I could see the ego more clearly for what it is because I found something to identify that was not my ego.

It’s like climbing a familiar mountain and discovering a path leading to a new peak. When you arrive at the new peak, you look over and see the summit where you’ve been before, but it looks different because you are apart from it.

When we meditate, we experience our life force, where the ego and its agenda cannot exist. Consistently experiencing our inner self enables us to live our lives more freely. We can exist in loving relationships and enjoy them without believing they are the only source of our happiness.

A fulfilling relationship flows from the generosity, fulfillment, and love within us. When we meditate, we access that part of ourselves that is full of love, and we bring that positive energy into our lives.

Being in a relationship with anyone occurs first in our minds. We display our inner world through our words and actions. We don’t say cruel things when we feel full of love, and on the flip side, we struggle to be kind and generous when we feel resentful. We nurture our relationships or we destroy them by what we do and what we say. How we think and feel creates our words, behavior, and relationships. To change the nature of our relationship, we have to change our inner world.

The more we connect to our higher selves, the more we can bring love and kindness to our relationships. We stop seeing them as a simple give and take: “I will do this for you if you do this for me.” We see our relationships as an opportunity to give, to grow, and to learn how we can be better humans.

To change the nature of our relationship, we have to change our inner world.

My wife and I each have a daily spiritual practice, but we still experience friction and arguments. Most of those are about being “right,” resurfacing old wounds, or conflicting expectations and communication breakdowns. The friction never arises from too much kindness; it comes from the rubbish that bubbles up from the ego.

Most argument starters are unconscious; they leak out from the ego and its various unresolved issues. They surface in expressions of annoyance, judgment, selfishness, and criticism. The next time you face a complicated relationship issue, ask yourself, “What would love do?” In relationships, we can choose what to discourage and what to encourage.

In our relationship, my wife and I discourage:

  • Complaining about other people.
  • Focusing on what we can’t control.
  • Replaying negative stories from the day: “I can’t believe they did this!”
  • Not taking responsibility.
  • Projecting on the other.
  • Letting disagreements linger.
  • Not communicating our expectations.

And we encourage:

  • Giving space to each other for quiet reflection and meditation.
  • Laughing at ourselves.
  • Respecting personal boundaries.
  • Resolving breakdowns quickly and owning our part.
  • Revisiting our values and shared vision regularly.
  • Sacred sex, music, dance, and creativity.
  • Ceremony: honoring nature and the rhythm of life.
  • Seeing the “divine” in each other.
  • Respect for our bodies and what we consume.
  • Understanding the mind-body connection.
  • Calling each other out on any bullshit.

Embracing our silent minds through meditation helps us remember that fulfillment is always within us. And when we are fulfilled with ourselves, that sense of fulfillment — and the love and joy that goes along with it — manifests in our relationships. And that’s when beautiful things happen.

Life lessons from 10 years as a monk, 49 years meditating, and 30 years in the shark-infested waters of corporate America |

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