David Richo’s book, How to be An Adult in Relationships, discusses the five key elements of healthy relationships.
Attention: This is about giving your focused attention to your partner and others. It gives them a sense that they are important and in those moments, they are your highest priority. You are not allowing anything to distract you from listening fully to their thoughts, wants and feelings. You can know what a person values by looking at what they pay attention to. Knowing we are valued comes from having our loved ones & friends give us their full, respectful attention, especially when we most need it: At the end of a difficult day, when we have had an “aha” moment or we feel good about an accomplishment or feel bad about a struggle.
Acceptance: This is about being fully accepted. Being accepted for all our feelings, personality traits and quirks. Acceptance is an experience of being loved, at least in that moment, unconditionally. That's different from “I’ll love you when you stop being so angry, sad, anxious, childish ...” This is about getting to a place where we let go of needing others to be a certain way and really accept them, flaws and all, in the moment. This acceptance creates a sense of safety for them. They are Safe to be who they are now and be free from experiencing judgement or shame from us. They are free to choose again and grow in acceptance.
Appreciation: It is essential for our wellbeing. In fact, it is one of the key elements that sustains a relationship. For every complaint or criticism that occurs we can find 10 appreciations to balance it out. When we are feeling upset or angry it is often tied to feeling unappreciated. Appreciations can take many forms including acknowledgement of talents, skills and noticing when others are thoughtful and even vulnerable.
Affection: Affection can be expressed in words, a gaze or a gift and it can be expressed with hugs, kisses or holding hands. It is expressed with actions like bringing home flowers, completing a home project or waiting for the other to speak when they need to gather their thoughts. Maybe even give a 60 Second hug and see how that boosts feelings of wellbeing. People always feel warmed by shared affection.
Allowing: When we allow the other person to express themselves, and allow them to live their lives without a desire to control or manipulate them, our relationships prosper. Sometimes allowing is giving others the space they need and be away from us. Giving them the space to explore other interests or friendships without us feeling threatened. Allowing is a gift so that they return with more to share. When we allow, we are trusting the other and giving them our support to be their best selves.
We create healthy relationships when we give others the Five A's.
Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection and Allowing.
Dr. Bill Little
Imagine that you are a playwright and you have written the entire script for the play called ‘My Life.’ Yes, this means all the great moments with supportive people, and all the unhappy moments involving loss of love, health or wealth, etc. This is not easy to accept, but to move forward and complete the drama you will have to accept this. The truth be told, you have probably learned more from the disasters than the uplifting times.
Now imagine that your career as a playwright has an expansive nature to it, i.e., your ability to write great stories increases as time goes on and you gain life experience. I once saw a movie directed by a young person, perhaps in his twenties, and it was terrible. It was nothing but darkness and violence. I actually walked out because this person didn’t know yet that life is never totally dark and never totally light. It is a fascinating mixture. But he will grow to understand reality and may achieve success.
There is a source within us that fuels our career choices as well as many other things. Some call it spirit. So suppose that your spirit is gradually making you a better writer of ‘My Life.’
Eventually you will want to expand your life story into another dimension. This is often preceded by a feeling something like, ‘Help; I’m trapped in a human being!’ Daily life becomes very habitual and listless after a while. So the need for adventure and freshness and the feeling of awesomeness is very much a part of the human life story.
How will you spread your wings and fly?
Have you suppressed a yearning to paint or sing for too long?
Is your worldly mind telling you you’re too old for a new career?
This yearning is natural and can be seen to be your own spirit pushing against the walls of your personality.
Now here is where everything must, of necessity, become very strange and even mystical. Our spirit never ages. It is always leaving the past and projecting a great future. All it really requires is our agreement. Do the thing you think you can’t do. Partner with Life in such a way that you set a wonderful goal and give the rest of the details to your inner being so there is no struggling to reveal the new you. This is how you operated when you were young and knew no barriers.
The story of your life now may appear to have several barriers, but if you look closely, that’s only due to some idea that you have cultivated or someone else has told you. And then there is always the concept, ‘I’m not as young as I used to be.’ While it is true the body naturally ages, the spirit does not.
Plan your next life. What kind of parents would you like to have? What type of relationship would you seek knowing what you have learned in this life? Let’s take it even more into a rarely explored field. What period of time would you life to live in? Hundreds of years from now, humanity might have expanded into the solar system. How about designing asteroids that act as giant ships that travel between planets with magnificent interiors filled with natural beauty?
Have no doubt that you are Shiva. This means that you are all and everything throughout all time and space. And you are the playwright designing your play of consciousness. This is the real agenda for human beings. We are not just here to live a very limited set of dramatic scenes with other people we may or may not relate to. We are here to grow into our own deep nature and find a spirit that is eternally expanding into vast dimensions.
Try this now. Sit down and write out who you really want to be.
Dr. Bill Little
A Message from Dr. Bill Little
The most powerful practice in this time of pandemic is sheltering. Statistics show that people who shelter almost never become infected. But in many ways, sheltering seems going against our human nature. We feel as though we are social beings and we miss our friends and co-workers, etc. We long for the out-of-doors and sunshine.
But human nature is actually nothing more than ego. It is our limited self that feels locked up and therefore gets a sense of ‘cabin fever.’ If you have ever spent time in a spiritual community, an ashram or temple or spiritual retreat, you probably had some of the same feelings – at least the first few times you were there. These communities are designed to take you away from the world of the senses so you can focus on the inner world of your own being and develop more refined senses.
For example, our normal vision has an inner counterpart. Seeing with what has been called ‘the third eye’ is the ability to see the world as it is instead of how we think it is. Looking at a person with our outer vision rapidly accesses our memory banks and we really only see our own thoughts about them that we remember. But the third eye experience allows us to see them as they are, including their faults, and even their subconscious patterns which they may not be aware of at all. If you have ever been in the presence of an enlightened being, you know how naked you feel in front of them. All the other senses also have inner senses that correspond to them.
So when you contemplate this, sheltering might be one of the great gifts of covid 19. We have the time to be alone and shut down our preoccupation with the outer world. By focusing on something as simple as breathing for five or ten minutes we can withdraw and become more subtle. We can use our feeling nature to become aware of our own presence. This is to begin with so subtle that worldly inputs overwhelm our own presence. We may use the word ‘I’, but it doesn’t have much reality to us except perhaps some brief worldly role.
For example we might say, ‘I’m going to the garage to do some pitch and throw.’ By the time we finish the sentence, the sense of ‘I’ has been quickly identified with a body and some basic actions. The real feeling of ‘I’ is very short-lived if it happened at all. The ego is fine with this kind of objective definition of ‘self’. But this superficial imagery is not enough for our evolution. It is nothing more than a habitual way of identifying oneself.
If we are to grow and fulfill our destiny we will take sheltering as a blessing and use it to explore the inner realm of who we are. My first meditation teacher told us, ‘A yogi always turns everything to his/her advantage.’ The tried and true practices of chanting, meditation, and self-inquiry will guide us beyond the disease of being a human being. Just as we put on masks, wash hands, etc.,
Use the spiritual practices to your advantage.
Discover the astounding being at the center of you.
The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream.
The oak sleeps in the acorn;
The bird sleeps in the egg;
and the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs.
Dreams are the seedlings of realities...
- James Allen
“As you see, sense & feel your inner most desire
as a place that already exists
And you begin to live there every day,
taking no thought for current circumstances,
No power on earth can stop you from becoming
that which you conceive & know yourself to be.”
Humanity would be farther along the evolutionary arc if we had accepted one simple truth: everything we can see is an idea held in temporary form by our agreement. Change the ideas and what look fixed, falls away like ripe fruit from its tree. That is what Emerson wrote about in The Oversoul. He said we have fallen too far in love with our senses to the exclusion of our Spiritual Intelligence. If one tries to convince others that what they are looking at, they helped create, they will call you insane. We simply dig in our heels and insist on a reality that is false.
I love what Ernest Holmes said and I often use this quote. In referring to the world of form he said, “it is as real as it needs to be.” I always add “to give us the experience of our ideas.” Our ideas about God, about the universe, about our origins, our inherent attributes, adds up to the realm we create. We walk around in our own consciousness, seeing through the lens of our construct.
There is also a “group think” or a collective consciousness, that contains the agreements we make about what is real. For example; a long time ago we agreed that we have dominion over Nature. That has led to its near destruction due to the fact that we misunderstood what dominion really means. It connotes responsibility for the ongoing function of the whole, but was thought to mean we could do whatever we wanted with it and it would survive anyway. How wrong we were. We are beginning to change our agreement about that and the effects will be very positive.
All the great teachers have told us “think about what you believe. Does it lend itself to the greater Good or does your belief promote fear and lack and ignorance?” We are either creating solutions or perpetuating problems.
Affirm: “I welcome new, healthy, spiritually sound ideas about everything!”
Stay tuned in,
Dr. Carol Carnes
When we travel to a new place,
there won't be anything to worry about as we have a reliable map.
Similarly, as we use the principles of spirituality,
we will never be overwhelmed by any crisis.
We will know how to face and deal with any situation.
Spirituality is the practical science of life.It teaches us the nature of the world, how to understand life and live fully in the best way possible.
- Amma - Mata Amritanandamayi