I’ve been with Daniel, my husband, for 20 years now. We met in a workshop called ‘Love, Intimacy and Sexuality’, became friends, and fell in love.
These workshops, organised through the Human Awareness Institute, are led by Americans, and the one that I attended had a married couple as facilitators.
I’d come through years of difficult romantic relationships and was ready to learn how to have a successful one. I admired the facilitators’ relationship and, I’m a little embarrassed to admit, put them up on a pedestal. I wanted to emulate their ability to be honest, vulnerable, loving, trusting, and great communicators with each other.
So I started working on these qualities in myself. I did a number of these workshops and then became a volunteer in the organisation, and so did Daniel. Because the content of the workshops is very much about love, intimacy and sexuality, I felt like I had put myself in finishing school to learn about these qualities.
I would say that the learning, and, more importantly, the practice of what we learned in the L.I.S workshops, greatly increased the chances of a successful relationship between Daniel and me. We still occasionally attend these workshops, just to get a ‘tune-up’. It’s so easy to lose the heart of what matters in a relationship. It takes paying attention and caring, like tending a garden.
The funny thing, though, is that the idealised image I had of the couple who so much influenced me in the early days wasn’t a match for reality. They had their own particular neuroses and unskilful ways of operating in relationship. They had problems that I was totally blind to.
For me to have focussed on what I perceived as their good qualities, though, was truly helpful. There was something about that process that elicited the best in me and improved the likelihood of me finally having the relationship I’d always longed for.
I think the couple appreciated not being kept on a pedestal and standing on level ground with them has let me cultivate a lovely friendship with them for all these years.
Different qualities such as friendliness, compassion and contentment can be enquired into through samyama. Thus, one can learn how to strengthen a chosen quality.*
*Patanjali’s Yogasutras, translation and commentary by T.K.V. Desikachar