Susan, a recently divorced "friend of a friend," is coming to terms with the fact that her life has changed dramatically, since her husband of 21 years left her. There are two aspects of her experience that are instructive for anyone who is, or has recently been, in a relationship.
The first is how one deals with the inevitable conflicts that will arise in a love relationship (no matter how "healthy" that relationship may be). The second is how one deals with the heartbreak that will likely arise if and when a love relationship ends.
The Relationship Crucible
Relationships are one of life's greatest pleasures. They are also one of life's greatest classrooms. While our hearts are filled with love and affection, our intimate relationships naturally provide us with tests and trials - sometimes on a daily basis - to help us grow more masterful in our spirituality. Relationships act as a crucible, in which to draw out any "flaws" and bring them to the surface for our purification and spiritual growth.
With a casual friend, you can overlook minor annoyances or idiosyncrasies. With a live-in partner, they must be faced. The successful resolution of a conflict can bring you closer to your partner and increase intimacy. Both partners grow as a result of facing and overcoming these obstacles.
When seen in this light, you can choose to view a difficulty that may arise between you and your love partner as an opportunity to grow, and work to overcome it. But, if one or both partners are unwilling to look within and do a little self inquiry, the growth will stop and so will the benefits of the relationship. Not everyone is ready or willing to undertake such self inquiry.
This is not to say that you should break up, get divorced or abandon your commitments, just because of some "roadblock" that's arisen in your relationship. Every effort should be made to work things out - to compromise, make concessions and fulfill your obligations, while remaining true to your core values.
But ultimately, your mission on earth is to listen to your inner master, develop yourself, and share your gifts with the world. And while it's almost always more fun when you have a partner, if that partner is actively discouraging your personal and spiritual growth, you may have to end the relationship ... or it may end for you.
As Susan reflected on her marriage, she was forced to examine several unattractive aspects of her marriage that she had previously ignored. Had she and her husband addressed them early on, they might have been able to overcome them. After evaluating their options, it became clear that divorce was the best alternative for both of them.
Even knowing this, Susan is heartbroken and has become distrustful of men. Despite her pain, she must accept that the universe has conspired to advance her spiritual evolution. So must anyone who has ever suffered from heartbreak.
In all breakups, the person with whom you shared your love is gone. You are no longer the focus of his or her attention. And, almost always, you feel a hole in your heart.
Heartbreak teaches us compassion and forgiveness - how to be gentle with others, knowing how acts of mistrust or betrayal can hurt us deeply, and how forgiving ourselves and others can bring us to greater self-awareness. Compassion and forgiveness are qualities that humanity is cultivating.
If your partner leaves you, it would be wise to wish him or her well, knowing he or she may not be ready for the intensity of self inquiry and consequent growth that a profound relationship can entail.
When you no longer have your partner showering you with love and affection, you may be tempted to either find an immediate replacement (usually a bad idea) or be forced to go within, at least temporarily, and seek an even deeper level of love.
As you open your heart, go within, and incorporate higher vibrations of love into your being, you may still feel just as pained that your lover has abandoned you or ended the relationship. The difference is that you will recover much faster, for you will have a reservoir of love that you can tap into to ease the "temporary shortage."
We are not required to have a relationship, in order to access the love that we all seek. Neither is it necessary to become a monk or a nun.
Ideally, you are connected with your innermost self, tapping into that infinite reservoir of love, and sharing it with a partner who is similarly attuned. You are both contributing to a loving environment, in which you are both fully accepted and encouraged to be yourselves. This is the blueprint for a true spiritual marriage, where you and your partner can both realize your full spiritual potential.
Susan is talented, smart and attractive. If she uses her divorce as an opportunity to go within and tap into her inner self, in time, she will overcome her mistrust of men and connect with someone with whom she can share her newfound insights, compassion and independence. Conversely, she can choose to blame her "ex" for all her troubles, act like a victim, attract more untrustworthy men to confirm her belief, and block further spiritual growth.
This is true of all relationships. As Socrates said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." When conflicts are used as an opportunity for self inquiry, with an eye towards spiritual purification, even the end of a relationship can provide us with experience and compassion that can further propel us towards spiritual mastery.
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