The Yoga of Relationships

February 22nd, 2016

We revist a popular blog from past years this week…



“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.” 

~ Peace Pilgrim



The relationship we have with ourselves is reflected in the relationships we have with others. If we cannot sustain love and belief in ourselves as worthy beings of love, we will not sustain love in our relationships. Sooner or later, whether it appears as circumstance, treachery or injustice we will experience loss and separation.


To borrow a sanskrit word, most relationships are ‘karmic’ in nature – that is, they serve a functional purpose in creating or acting out something. Essentially, they give us a chance to discover and learn different facets of ourselves which would be difficult to experience by ourselves. We may not always like what we see. As a result, some relationships, like the subject in the 70’s soul classic ‘Across 110th St.’ can prove to be “…a hell of a tester”.



Other karmic functions of relationships are to get the chess pieces on our board moving. Some examples of this:


  • To help us get out of a previous relationship that we had difficulty doing alone [1]
  • To introduce us to a new set of circumstances that advance our life path: New friends, new country, new social, cultural or economic situation.
  • To facilitate other lives: children and family ties
  • To help and/or be helped with a situation we had difficulty resolving alone.
  • To revisit a sticking point in our self-understanding from a new angle that will give us another chance to understand and resolve it. Examples of this could be:
    • Acting out old traumas in a safer, more supportive setting
    • Revisiting co-dependency and addiction
    • Repeating negative patterns from previous relationships



The experience of love


A less common reason perhaps for the union of a relationship is the pure experience of love. This may seem an heretical statement. Are not all relationships about the experience of love? As we have just seen, relationships, while sparked by into action by love (or at least attraction), may be more about other things. The desire of our being to choose to reside and remain in the state of love however, holds an enormous attraction to us despite the trials and tribulations of our ego-driven personality.


At a spiritual level, the choice to remain in a state of love without needing to ‘achieve’ anything else in the relationship is quite profound. That is why such relationships are quite rare. Most of us are so caught up in ‘doing’ or ‘getting somewhere’ (wherever that is) in our karmically busy lives that a relationship that exists only to experience love seems self-indulgent in the extreme or even detrimental to our ‘progress’ in life. From that perspective it appears that such lovers are merely ‘dreaming their life away’.




 Yoga and union


To the uninitiated, the term ‘yoga’ brings forth and image of an elaborate series of stretching and breathing exercises. The origins of the word however reveal something more profound: ‘Union’. Specifically, union with the Self.


The yoga of relationships is the possibility to experience this union with the Self through the union with another, in the state of love. Love is the force that eliminates the illusion of separation.


Every time we experience union at any level the result is joy. It may be sexual union, the unity of family, a feeling of community and belonging, a lifelong friendship, a meeting of hearts, a meeting of minds, union with our higher Self – all of these are joyful in their own way.



Sadness and separation




By the same token, separation is sadness, pain and grief. Because our true nature is the union of love, separation from it plunges us into sadness. Paradoxically perhaps, our sadness proves that love is our true state. The biggest sadness we can experience however is separation from our Self. This is the root of all other sadness.  Without union with the Self, all external relationships will feel unsatisfying. They will leave us restless and constantly searching for something more or different.



Love and fear



In traditional Chinese medicine love is naturally enough attributed to the Heart energy system, residing in the Fire element (click here ). Fear is connected to the Kidney/adrenal gland energy system in the Water element ( click here ). At both a physical and emotional level, fear contracts our heart and alerts the egoistical self to defend and isolate us from others.




Fear is a cancer in relationships. Where fear exists love cannot – and visa versa.  What might be the causes of our fear in regard to another? There are many reasons but they might best be summed up in one word: loss.


  • The risk of loss that occurs to our materialistic, egoistical mind the moment we get what we desire
  • Losing ‘control over our life’ by including another in it
  • Losing perceived power or dominance by the challenge of another world view to our carefully constructed, unchallenged beliefs about ourselves in comparison to others
  • Losing power due to a history of powerlessness or abuse in relationships



Love and power


The problem with the above fears of course is that love is not about power at all. Power and its concerns are a matter for the ego and its need to control and protect self interest. The yoga of love is union. If we are one, where is there loss? Who is taking from us?


It is the split within ourselves – that a relationship with another can reveal – that is the true source of our fear. It is that separation that is the true source of our sadness.



 Love and healing


© Alex Grey

© Alex Grey


This is why love is such a healing force. It unifies the separation from Self and others that fear creates. Where love exists, fear cannot. If we think we are in love but still fear loss we are not fully in the state of love. We have not yet healed our fear.


I have witnessed many times the healing power of love. Body areas or systems that clients have been ‘at war’ with have mysteriously resolved when they move out of angry defensiveness and fear and enter the state of love.


Love is a little used but highly effective tool in formal healing practices as well. Unfortunately, we have become so technical in our medical practices that this has either been forgotten or discounted as unprofessional or even unethical.


The truth is however that to be with a client/therapist in the state of love is a very healing experience. This is not referring to amorous intent but the frequency state or healing vibration of love regardless of what formal technique we may employ. It brings to mind a client’s surprised comment after a session: “I felt so…loved!” She herself was a therapist but hadn’t considered that this could be a part of professional, ethical treatment. (For more on this click here)



The being of being


The only requirement of a loving relationship is being – being present, being loving, being ourselves without masks and compensations for feelings of fear. This is why the relationship with our Self is so important in determining the state of our relationships with others.


If we cannot be in the Self we can never fully be with another. Sooner or later that will become obvious and our fear and sadness will manifest in separation. This is just the reflection of the separation that already existed in us to begin with.



Till the yoga of another Monday separates us from one week while unifying us with another,



[1] This brings to mind the Bob Dylan line from ‘Tangled up in Blue’: “I helped her out of a jam I guess but I used a little too much force.”


© Jeremy Halpin all rights reserved. All images are the author’s own unless otherwise indicated or if the original source is unknown at the time of writing. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking the button in the bottom right hand corner of the page – or share it on the social media of your choice. If you have any wishes or questions regarding subjects to be discussed on this blog use the contact information below. Jeremy is also available for seminars, lectures and personal consultation:

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