I was recently asked a question about how embodiment looks in relationship and how one does it.
Embodiment is a matter of the heart. When we embody the love that is fundamental to who we are, we are actively choosing to stay open to what is, even when there is great pain occurring.
This takes all of who you are to practice developing the ability to stay open. It doesn’t happen over night and honestly, it builds by seeing how closed off your heart really is moment-to-moment in difficult situations. It takes vigilant honesty and a willingness to stay vulnerable and turn toward what feels uncomfortable.
Most relationships are based on the belief that we are separate from one another. The norm is to keep clear boundaries and stay in a limited conversation around who is right and who is wrong. If you’re lucky you will tire of this argument and seek something deeper. It won’t look neat; it won’t be tidy; it won’t feel safe. But if you stay the course, it will absolutely be more fulfilling and expansive than winning an argument and keeping things status quo.
The heart is the seat of the divine. When we rest here we become capable of real love—the receiving and giving of it—no matter its form. It doesn’t always look peaceful or nice, the way the mind fantasizes love to be like. The act of love can be fierce at times. It is the only thing that can melt the hardened, protective shell of the ego.
Below is a recounting of a recent fight my husband and I had. The details of why we were arguing aren’t as important as the deeper experience. The main reason I share this story is to bring light to the place where we all shut down and close off to the person we feel closest with, and to also show you that there is the possibility of experiencing something beyond fear, pride, disconnection and hopelessness in this place.
Just to give you more context, my husband and I have been using our relationship as a vehicle for greater depths of awakening for over 15 years. It has taken us a long time to be able to open so fully in the moment and move through difficulty as quickly as we do now, so please don’t get discouraged if things get stuck a lot at first. Just keep practicing building the mindfulness muscle of staying here and turning toward what is difficult. It is worth it every time.
He stood in front of me.
Heart closed, eyes darting around, and breath shallow.
I breathed deeply with the intent to soften the wedge that had appeared between us.
He turned away in pride, continuing to make his point (which wasn’t in and of itself a problem), it was the intensity in his demeanor that had my full attention.
I wanted to run away, close my heart down, but instead I followed him persisted.
I was drunk on love.
I allowed the tightness to express itself through my voice. I yelled at the top of my lungs: “Can you feel the hatred running through your veins? I feel like breaking something right now!”
He told me I was nuts, that I needed to go back to work.
I sat on his floor unable to move. He tried to kick me out but instead I got up and embraced him in my arms and said, “Hey, it’s okay. Just breathe with me, just one deep breath.” He stood there frozen, but didn’t push me away.
Eventually, we found our way back upstairs again. We stood there face to face, heart to heart, eye to eye. He didn’t flinch away, so I began to talk him through greater relaxation. This time he heeded and received this relentless heart. I was helplessly drawn to touch his body. I began to inform his cells through my touch, softening the hardened shell he had put up. I breathed slowly as I worked my way down to his feet, allowing all the resistance that was in the space to dissipate through my touch and breath.
The energy continued to shift and soften and our communication became connected, real and full of heart. He expressed how grateful he was that I didn’t close my heart to him. He was awakened more deeply by the exchange and was able to share from a place of vulnerability and was seen, heard and understood more clearly because of it.
Feet firmly planted here, standing strong, I can feel the divine masculine taking hold of his being, more and more. I am blessed to be with this man.
My greatest advice to anyone using relationship as a sacred vehicle for awakening: Stay, stay and stay. To truly love it takes an inner strength that is far greater than both you and your partner’s limited ability to fiercely love without any hesitation or fear whatsoever.
Author: Jennifer Byrd Rubacky
Editor: Travis May