9. Contemplate impermanence: To consider death and loss helps to keep us awake, for we don’t have forever to show those that we love how we feel about them. We don’t have a moment to lose. In the Buddhist tradition, meditation on death is said that the most important meditation is the meditation on death. To remember the brevity of our stay on the earthly plane helps us to be more alert. By remembering that it is a great blessing to be a spirit in a body, allows us to live with an open heart. In feeling the love that we have for our partner, we live with an awareness that one day, we won’t be able to be together any longer in bodily form, because one of us will be forced to drop their body before the other. To meditate on our beloved’s death, shakes us into an awareness of how precious it is to have them in our lives and keeps us from slipping into taking them for granted. Living with the stark awareness of death coming to one of us assists us to remain awake. We live with gratitude for all these moments, in this day, and fee bessed that we can be with our beloved.
10. Loving Kindness can manifest in many forms. When we commit ourselves to the practice of loving kindness, we look for all the ways that we can extend the arms of love:
Appreciation Gratitude Forgiveness
Generosity Acknowledgment Validation
Acceptance Understanding Letting go of the past
Attention Empathy Being in service
Communication Recognition Connection
Tenderness Compassion Non-attachment
And the practice of responsible self-care so that we will be in good shape to continue to do all of the above.
11. Service: The passionate connection with our partner is not the endpoint. It is a means to opening ourselves up to experience the whole of life more deeply. It is in living with a keener awareness of all that is right around us, in experiencing life in vivid color, that we discover a dynamic energy and creative force that resides in us all. We discover the part of ourselves that wants to contribute to the greater good.
Letting go of the small desire system, to make our partner a priority in our life, is magnificent training going beyond the self. Connecting to something larger and grander than our own desires is training to be in service. It is training for the transpersonal, that which is beyond the personal. The constant practice of paying attention to self and other calls forth more from us. It calls upon us to expand, to be spacious, to have a larger vision, to be creative, and to explore possibilities. We are called forth into the mystery.
Once we have given up being ego-driven, and become service driven, we derive tremendous fulfillment from serving others. We serve by being an example. We serve by giving of ourselves. We serve by risking caring. To be in a sacred partnership is to take on a commitment to support each other to become more effective servants.
12. Bestowing a blessing: When we are willing to give our partner our deepest heart-felt blessing, we wish them well for their health, happiness, learning, prosperity, challenge, peace of mind, and anything else that we think they are longing for. In growing up in our various religious traditions, we can come to believe that receiving a blessing can only come from a Rabbi, Priest, or Minister that has been ordained and officially sanctioned to do so. In Rachael Naomi Remen’s beautiful look, My Grandfather’s Blessing, she speaks with such feeling of the many ways her life has been enriched by the love of her kind and wise grandfather. She was close to him, as her parents both worked and it was her grandfather that took cover of her after school everyday until her parents comes from work. Her grandfather observed the orthodox Jewish tradition of laying both hands on the head of a loved child to give them a blessing for the week. Little Rachael had told her grandfather about things that had happened at school, things she had learned from her teacher and about her social interactions with her friends. In addition to her reports of events of her week, he had been carefully observing her and would weave into his blessing, themes that were personally relevant to her concerns and development.
It touches me to consider who we could each have become at this point of our lives if we had had the benefit of a heart felt blessing from a wise relative throughout our childhood. No doubt, we would have fewer minor conflicts, doubts, feelings of inadequacy and neuroses of various kinds. We would have become more conscious, wise and loving ourselves. And I am of the orientation that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. If we didn’t have enough play and humor, we need to create play and humor now. If we had to grow up fast and didn’t feel protected, we need to some how create that experience now. If we didn’t receive enough love and we find ourselves constantly yearning for it, our task is to establish loving relationships so we can house a corrective experience and almost all of us did not experience enough of feeling blessed.
So it isn’t too late. But it will require that we design a contract with our partner whereby we bestow a blessing on each other. The most important part is that the blessing is sent from the heart. It can sound many different ways. There is a devotional practice from the Buddhist tradition where you cultivate the warm heart of compassion.
The lovely blessing cis alled Metta which means loving kindness.
May you be happy.
May you be free of suffering.
May you be free of physical suffering.
May you be free from mental suffering.
May you be free of emotional suffering.
May you enjoy peace of mind.
From the Jewish Tradition
May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s countenance shrine open you.
May God grant you peace.
We can use these lovely prayers as a starter kit and add our own touches. Not only can the words be said in many different ways, but the postures we take for the blessing can be whatever we feel drawn too. In the catholic tradition, it is vto bend down to receive a blessing. In the Jewish tradition, you remain standing, and the one blessing you can either hold her hands a few inches above your head or lay both hands gently on the crown of the head. It is lovely when the one giving the blessing puts a hand over the heart of the recipient of the blessing into his heart, and it flows down his arm into his hand and is transmitted directly into her heart both with his touch, his words, and his eye contact.
The first time I offered this exercise to one of my classes, many of the couples sat down on the floor, draping there legs over each other to be able to sit close and held the face of the other while they offered the blessing or hugged, their chests and hearts touching while each whispered the blessing in their beloved’s ear. Most of the couples wept while they delivered and received the blessing.
All of these practices are a labor of love. When we pause to reflect on what is of utmost importance to us, we find that it is the relationships with those with whom we are the closest. To do daily practice becomes easier over time and the rewards are tremendous. Don’t take my word for it, look to your own experience to see if you are experiencing well-being and though your practice are becoming a more loving person.
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