Jeanne Denney
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The Breathing Relationship

Direct, embodied relationships of all kinds, from the deep ones with spouse and children to sales clerks and mail carriers, constantly negotiate a developmental pulse up and down our vertical core and through our chakras, likely stimulating our early traumas and attachment wounds. (See Relationship Basics). Once established, relationships of course are not static. They continue to pulsate and transform in cycles, that is if we allow them to. It is profoundly important to allow this transformational dance, for "space" (literally and poetically) between self and other to increase and decrease. Through the dances done well, original attachment wounds have an opportunity to heal as our own energy is buoyed by the resouces and satisfaction of connection with another. Healing relationship wounds is a process constantly trying to happen through the experiences of connection with others. In a healthy, dynamic relationship, energy courses back and forth between us in the horizontal plane and has a vertical pulse as well.

Breathing in the New Relationship

How do the energy of relationships form? Largely I notice that there seqences that are truly operating in relationship formation and that require respect. Generally they follow the same course as our physical and energetic development. For example, our body grows from the head down, our attachment as babies occurs from the eyes and head down, and our relationships too, have a head down component to them. We meet first in the eyes, then speak, etc. (See "Relationship Basics")

It is common to find in the arc of developmenet that energy shunts around or avoids troubled chakras, for example moving directly from talk at the bar to a "hookup", sidestepping the vulnerable heart. Skipping steps in relationship development, however (much like not learning to crawl) can have negative effects on relationship patterning, as the pulse will not have a smooth and clear channel to move within. One can easily see how communication technologies can and do disrupt this sequencing. Perhaps they aide it in another, I do not know. However disembodied communication (in which there is not real time response) appears to be a great problem for hearts and brains forming secure connections. This may be one reason why.

The Outbreath of Relationship

Even with a well formed relationship issues naturally arise, and this can be celebrated and expected. In time and quite naturally, there will be a shift in direction of attachment with another, perhaps a quieting. Debris can build up. Distance starts to happen quite on its own. Or maybe this process happens because of physical decline or death. There is a need for the counterpoint to attachment in differentiation. In this process we return to self and remember who we are without the other. This is not a tragedy, just an opportunity for clearing and reorganizing. If a relationship is not to stall in deadness here there seem to be exactly two choices that can be made (and ideally both). First we can deepen in process with each other, sharing more intimately so that new truths can be discovered together. Second we can step away to reorganize. In the first process, from the standpoint of energy, a vertical pulse moves in a downward direction, in the second it moves upward. In both cases we are allow something “die” and return, to exhale and be released.

I consider this process to be a grounding. An opportunity to check in with our original spiritual intention with another as well as our present truth. Note that even if roles are ending, there still IS a relationship. Of course. In this process egoic things are cleansed in dissolution, re-solution and recontracting. In a process done well, just as in physical death, there is a taking stock or "life review" of what has been accomplished together, thanks, honoring, apology. Forgiveness for what may not have gone so well may be in order as we gain new sight of both ourselves and the other.

A relationship that allows this process and the energy to transmute and return in a new form is my idea of a living relationship. We could also call this a “breathing relationship”. This is a practice that happens over and over again in long, healthy relationships. You can feel the aliveness of it when with old couples still deeply in love or lifelong friends who have been through many things together.

Relationship Strife

It is not easy to allow changes to our energy patterns with another, to see them as the positive, cleansing shifts that they can be. More often, our attachment wounds are stimulated and we struggle against natural relational recontracting and transformation, holding on to outdated forms and ideas of each other.

There are lots of problems with resisting needed change. One big one is that it depletes both people to keep something moving in place. It sets the stage for brittle fracture, resentment and relational trauma. Deep fatigue, resentment, anger, witholding and bitterness are all signs that deeper process and or some move away and upward into a spiritual redefinition is in order. This is not a call to rupture or total ending. It is not a failure. It is simply change. However modern divorce and traumatic breakup all too commonly demonstrates the result of not doing right work of transforming a relationship. The important thing to consider is that this movement can be trusted if there is courage, dedication and consciousness.

In my experience, the following 7 things underlie much relational strife:

    1. Problems in relationship development , meaning the relationship is not built logically and sequentially from a firm foundation but skips steps.
    2. Resistance to a relationship's natural pulse and call to change, or lack of resources to let that happen
    3. Stuckness in roles and ideas of who we need to be to/ for each other,
    4. Ungrieved losses
    5. Lack of spiritual/sexual alignment
    6. Co-dependent enmeshment.
    7. Differences in personal development

All of these have body and energy correlates.

In relationship work, it is important to determine what part of a cycle a relationship is in and what kind of movement (away or toward, up or down, into attachment or detachment) is trying to occur, as well as the divine or spiritual will of the relationship. From there, it is right to consider what history and personal work must be faced, what feelings felt and what resources needed.

Ending or "death" of a relationship is possibly only that place in the cycle where we allow an external form to change and our roles with each other to be renegotiated. Our heart connections and transpersonal roles with each other never need to be completely dissolved. Many successful marriages have contracts and roles renegotiated many times over their course. It is this ability to transform with another itself that is the hallmark of an exceptional relationship regardless of legal contracts or even the facts of bodily death.

In sum, relationships are entities like bodies which have arcs of creation and dissolution as part of health. They have developmental lives that go in an out of forms over time. These movements are all part of the natural life of relationship. They can be accepted and enjoyed in a state of love. Not cooperating with this movement can lead to stuck, addictive relationships that are unfulfilling and truly without life. Volitility is a call to action, a call for change and to deeper life and truth with another. Still, it is often difficult to turn to the change and the space that is truly being called for in our relationships. We often need stabilizing and supportive help from others and from community.