Awakening to the truth about intimate relationships
If you’ve been struggling to find a love that lasts and been disappointed in intimate relationships, by unfinished business, unresolved resentment or debilitating grief, do not despair. There is a way back to clarity, peace of mind and the confidence to try again….
Turning to our ancestors will shed some light. When human beings lived in tribal culture the tribe gave our lives stability, meaning, and sense of belonging. Good relationships between intimate partners were matters of tribal importance because they were essential to its survival. So tribal elders played a role in matchmaking young couples and provided emotional and spiritual guidance if it was needed, or asked the shaman to journey for healing for them. Love was expected to grow after commitment, romance and then children (in that order) and children received a balanced upbringing from the whole tribe.
In society today most intimate relationships start with exploration, then romance, strife after the honeymoon period, then commitment or not, and the end. We all seem to manage the first three stages but struggle with commitment and endings.
Research by shamanic practitioner, Paul Hayward shows that the rise in failing relationships is directly related to our loss of tribal community. Given the wide variation in the modern and ancient ways of starting a partnership it’s hardly surprising.
Clearly it’s not possible or desirable to return to tribal living but we can still tap into some of the resources and wisdom our ancestors used and do our best to foster community in the places that we live.
What are Beautiful Relationships?
Today’s shamanic practitioners carry on the tradition of those tribal elders and shamans of old. And Paul Hayward is a shamanic practitioner with a calling and a message.
During his workshops Paul facilitates the ancient techniques of journeying to the ancestors for advice and insight, for couples or singles seeking solutions to problems in love and relating. He calls this pioneering work Beautiful Relationships.
Paul says, “All relationships are beautiful in that they offer us the possibility of valuable teachings, but not all relationships are healthy”.
A healthy relationship is a secure place where we feel rock solid, where both parties are totally authentic, supportive, open, and respectful. Having the character traits of integrity, honesty, compassion, appreciation and gratitude are vital; and as Kahlil Gibran puts it, “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”.
Paul’s says that with all this in place you’ve got a strong foundation but it will still only give you a comfortable relationship. The key to a healthy relationship is mutual spiritual nourishment.
“A healthy relationship is where both people are nurturing each other’s spiritual development so they can ripen together naturally like seasoned fruits. It is a haven from which we can be fulfilled as human beings,” says Paul.
Why do people settle for unhealthy relationships?
In ancient times the more children the more chance the tribe had of survival. So our physiology is set up to attract the healthiest breeding partner – hardly very romantic.
Two hormones are responsible for sexual attraction: oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and pheromones that cause sexual arousal in others. Pheromones contain information about our personal gene pool. And women naturally prefer the scent of men whose immune system genes complement theirs because children born from this union would inherit a doubly strong immune system and a therefore a higher chance of survival (1).
Studies show that physical appearance and behaviour are irrelevant (2).This explains why some women seem to make surprising partnerships with unattractive men. So those physiological drivers that once ensured our survival may now be misleading us in our choice of partner.
“This is one of the reasons why people stay in or return to unhealthy or abusive relationships,” says Paul. Of course there are other reasons for example, we often seek the familiarity of people who have the traits of our parents (even if those traits are unhealthy) and being traumatised can lead us into re-enactment as an unconscious way of seeking closure. This is why it’s so important to have a healthy relationship with ourselves before starting a relationship with someone else.
“How can I enjoy a healthy relationship with myself?” is the first journey on the workshop
One participant said,“I was told to stop trying to find a partner to fill the hole of love that I craved and instead focus on loving myself”. Self love is the missing element in many relationships. When we view our inner world with compassion and accept our shadow parts we are creating a fertile ground for healing ourselves. And when we truly love ourselves and do not need a relationship to feel fulfilled then any intimate connection can be a beautiful play and overflowing of love on one another.
The purpose of relationships
Assuming that we have a healthy relationship with ourselves, it’s time to look at what we’re getting into. The true purpose of relationships is to help each other grow spiritually. In the classroom of daily life we learn what we need to develop so that we come to fruition as souls. Or not.
Into the Crucible
It’s in the time-scarce stress of daily life that many relationships become unstuck. Rather than thanking our partner for, bringing up unwelcome feelings,