March 4, 2017

How to Witness with Compassion in Relationships.

“To wait is to expect; to stay is to give.” ~ Anthony Hymm 


Last week, two of my yoga students shared hardships they are going through. For both of them, it boiled down to an “awakening” they were experiencing while their partner was in a stagnant place.

This is very familiar to me, not only in my personal life, but I also come across this type of imbalance in relationships with many people in my yoga classes.


When people come to yoga or decide to walk the Camino de Santiago or partake in a yoga retreat or go to poetry workshops, they are seeking a deeper meaning, a deeper connection—a spiritual aspect to their lives that is missing.

While the seeker is doing this, there is often times a partner, friend, or family member that is not yet onboard with this spiritual awakening or accelerated spiritual path. This person may be in a place of financial or professional growth or may be going through a stressful time at work. The counterpart is not awake in his/her own life and therefore cannot be open to their partner’s experience.

Spiritual awakenings are often experienced after some type of loss or conflict in the individual’s life. For example, when I had my children and decided to stop working, we moved across the country for my husband’s job. I felt a sense of loss. Then I lost my father. While I was going through these life changes or shifts, I felt a huge pull to open my eyes and heart and to live more vibrantly.

My counterpart, however, was not personally going through these struggles. His focus was on the day-to-day balance of our family. This was important to him and our family but was frustrating to me. His growth was in another direction: it was in personal and professional growth. My growth was in emotional and spiritual growth. These are the places that called us at that time in our lives.

Although you may find yourself struggling to understand what is happening in your life and in your relationship, here are a few places to bring your attention to in order to calm the misalignment or imbalance of your relationship.

1. Shift having expectations for your partner to expectations for yourself. Every person moves through this life at a different pace. We “spiritual” folk can become judgmental. Suddenly, that yoga practice has made us into someone superior. Those who are seekers are usually doers and achievers. They are seeking solutions for a void or longing. Put that energy into filling your self and not blaming your partner for not meeting you half way. Fill your self up with the activities you love, such as writing, reading, practicing yoga, or exploring nature. Reevaluate the expectations you have for yourself versus the expectations you have for others, especially the people closest to you. 

2. Let go of ownership. No matter what you decide in your relationship, you do not own your partner. You both are two humans with separate desires and wishes. The purpose of relationship is to learn and grow, to love and feel supported. The underlying feeling in a healthy relationship is freedom.

3. Witness with compassion. We are here to witness our partner’s path and life with compassion. While you may be on a more spiritual path, seeking more fulfillment, your partner may take more time or never be interested. Be open to that. Be open to the differences. Be open to everything you can learn from one another, even as uncomfortable as it may be. Conflict and discord, when dealt with using open communication will end in compromise, understanding, and resolution.

4. Two halves do not make a whole. Two broken individuals do not make one complete person. Although you may be in a short term or long term relationship, the work on ourselves never ceases. It is continuous. The work you don’t do on your own and the lack of self love will pour into any relationship.

As we stand by and focus on our growth, may we witness our loved one’s lives with compassion.




Author: Ashley Martinez

Image: kinoyoga/Instagram

Editor: Travis May

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