Do you have something that you do regularly in a mindful way even if you don’t feel like doing it? Maybe you know this moment: You f***ing HATE doing what it is you are doing but you know it also feels really good on some level and you know it is good for you and halfway through doing it you feel better and when you are done you feel great and you are happy you are doing it. Yep, congratulations, you have a practice. To me, that is what practice means. And let me tell you, do I have a few practices in my life.
Over my lifetime I had a load of relationships. Not all romantic. Not all successful. About 3 years ago something shifted in the way I related and I started becoming aware of stuff I was doing, that was plainly not good for the relationship. This was a really nasty place. I saw myself doing things and couldn’t stop myself. Like I was on the passenger seat of my own brain. I became aware of my autopilot and the fact that said autopilot was running me.
It took me another year to turn off the autopilot and start driving myself. That was a struggle. And it is a struggle that is still not done. I am fighting every day with myself to stay conscious throughout my life. And more often than not do I hate it because I need to feel everything and be aware of everything but I also know it is good for me and I grow. That is my life practice.
About 5 months ago I attended at an open relationship discussion group. Someone asked a question and a woman responded with: Relationship is a self-improvement program disguised as a partnered practice. Wow. That blew my mind a little. The fact that my relationship is a self-improvement program… how the hell am I now supposed to blame the other person. I don’t want to be a victim. And now I have to work on myself where I thought before we go together? (Aka: If YOU grow a little, I will too. – That was my motto before.)
And then about a month ago, I watched one of my teachers talk. She said to a question from the audience: “You need to ask your partner if they want to be in the relationship with you. If they say yes, bingo, you have a practice. If they say: “Yes, and I will have your guts for the rest of your life”, then you say: “Thank you, you just upped my practice tenfold.” Call this another moment of mindblown. Yes, I thought I knew that before and that I was living that way. But hearing her say it, really made it sink in.
And now I am finding myself in a relationship with a woman I love. A woman I married. And she has the ability to drive me crazy with a look. Or an exhale. Or a sigh. (I have never met someone who can breathe that pointedly and expressively.) And when she starts speaking… she can wield disapproval and guilt like a sword and blame like an armor. And I love her. And she loves me. And that is all that matters at the end of the day. I have a relationship practice with her.
There are moments when I hate going to my practice. HATE IT! And I know: This. This right here. Right here. Right now. This is where I grow and become a better person. And my wife helps me to become a better version of Falk. And I am grateful for that. I am grateful for the practice we have together. I am grateful that she consented to be in a relationship with me.
Do you have a practice? Do you have a practice of relationship? If not, what would it take to elevate your relationship to the level of practice?