Beginners Mind: Nurturing Relationships

as originally posted here

With any relationship involving ones self, another, or an aspect of life, there is a curve of interest and involvement. When it is new and special, the excitement drives involvement, and as interest wanes a persons interaction with that relationship becomes more and more habitual, and less conscious. Perceptions about the relationship begin to persist, and the new and wonderful can become second hand, boring and exhaustive. Where once one would run to be in and develop the relationship, without conscious nurturing one becomes just as happy to run from the relationship.

The relationship itself is what it is. Yet, when things begin to become familiar, or problems develop, the common tendency is to blame the other person for what is going on. One tries to fix the relationship, or change the situation, or find new stimuli to remain excited. Observation and direct experience will reveal that all of these methods fail.

First, let me clarify what I mean by relationship. Every aspect of life is in relation to our own self, the subject self has a relationship with the ‘objects’ of the world. Therefore, I can have relationships with other people in a variety of ways, or with nature, or ones environment and daily endeavors, and most importantly, with my own Self.

As a relationship develops, a resistance to it will build due to familiarity.

This is the big challenge for compassion and love. It is easy to say love, yet to love an intimate relationship when there are aspects to it that one dislikes, is a completely different story. One will speak love, and become disinterested, and will withdraw from actually being involved with the relationship. Then, the relationship becomes a ghost of love, clinging to a sweet past, yet having little to no fulfillment in the moment.

This is a process which occurs, a little every day. And sooner or later the relationship must come to an end. There simply is no energy in it, the energies have flowed elsewhere. Nurturing the relationship a little day by day causes the relationship to either grow, bud and flower if watered with appreciation, or to wither and fade if viewed with criticism and apathy. This is not action of word and thought, but of deed, and is the very seed of what either builds or destroys a relationship.

Any relationship requires nurturing, not of words, but of action.

In relationships, words become nearly meaningless in light of our moment-to-moment, day-to-day actions. The familiar words that ourself or another person may speak has absolutely no weight against the reality of observable action. We know the truth of our own eyes, and the hollowness of the words. When words and actions do not match, one is misaligned. This creates stress in the relationship that must eventually come back into balance.

Actions become the true language of relationship. Actions never occur tomorrow, and yesterday has already passed. Action only occurs now. If what is being done now does not nurture the important relationships, yet words of love and devotion are spoken, one is in disharmony. That person is living an untruth, often blinded by self-deception. It is easy to see this, yet the tendency is to deny the truth, and to speak in a defensive way which betrays trust and further diminishes the relationship.

The other person or ‘object’ part of the relationship can never be held accountable for what one self feels in and about the relationship.

Should the relationship start to wither, I can never point my finger at the other person or at the ‘thing’, and say that the fault rests there. The relationship is I, and when a relationship becomes misaligned, it is something within me that is causing the effect that I am noticing outside.

When a person believes that it is the other, and attempts to change that person or thing, the stress that it creates automatically creates division due to the actions of attempting to change the other. Any stress eventually becomes released, often times resulting in pain and attempts to hide from such pain.

When I recognize that I am solely responsible for my part in the relationship, then I am empowered to consciously act.

The relationship becomes liberating and is no longer held accountable for my own feelings about it. I am free to act in ways that can nurture whatever relationship I engage in, or to simply set aside relationships which are draining, freeing my energies to be effectively focused.

Of course, the biggest factor in all relationships is perception. The held perception becomes the method of action. The perception that a relationship is boring and familiar leads to action that is sluggish and inattentive. Seeing the relationship as exciting and interesting, as one does naturally when it is new, brings tremendous growth and joy.

Can the familiar and boring become exciting and interesting once again?

The key is the beginners mind, approaching each moment as a new one, allowing the past to remain in the past and engaging in the relationship as it arrives now. This disentangles a person from their perceptions, and allows the freshness of the early relationship to remain ever present. The newness which is exciting is made available simply by looking at and appreciating what is already present.

Just because a person or thing was one way in the past is no basis for judging that this is how it is now.

Giving ones own self the freedom to be as I am grants freedom of action and thought right now, and allowing others and the relationship with them to be as it is unveils the subtle growths, minute changes, and distinctive nuances of that relationship to be made available.

In essence, the relationship begins to go through a process of refinement, a distillation of perception where one remains in love with the essence of what was present at the beginning that is still here now, allowing the relationship to be what it is.

Conscious involvement in a relationship allows enjoyment to unfold as the relationship develops. One becomes free of needing or demanding anything from the relationship, and simply appreciates and enjoys what is made available through the relationship. Where the actions of boring familiarity lead to neglect and a boring relationship, the actions which stem from appreciation effortlessly and naturally nurture the relationship, providing all the heart yearns for.

It’s very easy to act for what we appreciate. The beginners mind has vision beyond the familiar mental-rut perception, and through awareness learns to appreciate the nuances and subtle aspects of the relationship.

The passion and excitement of the original moments may fade, yet a blossoming of real love and a true developing and deepening of any relationship becomes the moments unfolding of joy. One is fulfilled.

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