Where to Learn the Skills of a Relationship


"Trust the silence inside of you." Adyashanti.

As children, our parents seem to cause and create everything. When we follow their rules, we can just play and life is good. When things do not go right, we look to them to figure out what will make us happy. When we marry, we expect our partner to make us happy.

When marriage does not make us happy, we expect to find a teacher whose teachings we can trust. We seek out the right course of study, the most learned book, the best qualified professor, guru and coach. Then, we listen, take notes, study and learn the process being taught. Or, especially for relationship problems, we go to a counselor. The research of Dr. John Gottman shows that within 3 to 5 years following maritime counseling, 98% divorce. Knowledge does not help create gratifying relationships. They require skill.

We learn relationship skills by looking within ourselves and exploring 7 essential ingredients. Like gathering the ingredients for baking a cake, we need them all in proportions that are in balance with each other.

1. CONSCIOUSNESS- is the place in which trial and error learning occurs as an inquiry without an inquirer, without a me trying to learn a technique or a skill. We can explore consciousness with awareness itself. With awareness we can explore our nature. We can explore with an open, empty mind, with sensations and sensitivities open, listening, looking, smelling, tasting, touching, and feeling. These can carry us into a conscious relationship.

2. LANGUAGE- names everything, fragmenting the world into pieces. When we begin to use language, we identify with ourselves as an "I am", a single solid individual that thinks in language about everything and lives in story. Language becomes a left brain addiction that chatters continuously shaping our brain to its requirements. We refer to our left brain as "our mind", ignoring our right brain attributes. Understanding the limitations language creates and the skillful use of language to identify the energy of being enabling communication that can create relationship at depth.

3. LOVE- forms as the intention to connect with and give to life. Love is an act chosen freely, which fulfills essential life needs and energizes giver, receiver and any who observes with understanding. Only love is real, and only it can give a basis for relationship. The meaning of love is confused. In ordinary usage it means fondness or attachment, "I love my Calvin Klein jeans!"

4. FEAR- is the alarm caused by the perception or belief that a physical danger threatens our safety or imagining that evil, an absence of love, has occurred. Usually imagining evil results from confusion and misunderstandings about the nature of the energy of being. To engage life fully, we must manage fear as a wonderful alarm system alerting us to danger or confusion. It requires removing false alarms, healing damage from childhood injuries and understanding the energy driving each other's actions. Understanding and skillfully managing fear enabling relationship.

5. OBSERVATION- of the energy of being creates the possibility of choosing actions that cause harmony and fulfill essential life needs. We act at the effect of the energy living within us. Observing the quality and amount of energy informs choices and creates awareness. Observation lays the foundation for fulfilling relationship.

6. ENERGY- that drives our lives gets express in feelings. Our body and being assesses our essential needs and communicates them through our emotions. The names of the needs are the facets of human energy wanting fulfillment to thrive. Identifying them gives empathy to oneself and to others. Disclosing our own feelings and needs honestly helps others' empathize with us. Such mutual understanding defines connection and the capacity to give effect to each other. When empathy inflorms relationships, it enables a graceful dance of life. When it is missing, we have confusion, fear and warfare. Understanding energy makes harmonized relationship possible.

7. CHOICE- is an inherent aspect of consciousness. By protecting it and respecting choice in everyone, we create peace and safety. It enables collaboration, which is our most effective way to find cooperation and harmony. Respecting choice denies the essence of war, which is to steal the other's choice by whatever means necessary. Creating choices that fulfill essential life needs makes relationships capable to flex, grow and continuously renew themselves.

Relationships undertaken unskillfully give conflict and competition. When these 7 ingredients inform balanced choices, our actions create relationships that fulfill needs and sustain us. They cause life to thrive, and in thriving they create the happiness and joy of a full experience of love in life.

Steven Allen Smith