I am just back from the third weekend of The Mystery of Relationships. It was a deep, rigorous, and poignant event.
During the workshop, Angeles Arrien and I outlined the five qualities of intimacy: openness, trust, respect, honesty and vulnerability.
Relationships, without intimacy, remain superficial and never deepen, strengthen or open. They remain static and never live up to the potential that they hold.
As a result, the bonds of relationship are unable to hold in difficult conditions such as change, challenges and conflict. They remain superficial and unsatisfying at best or become toxic and inflamed.
Openness is the willingness to disarm, drop our defensiveness, and be present and available to another person. So many of our relationships are fear based. Where fear is the dominant energy, relationships cannot find enough space to open naturally. Instead, they become rife with dynamics designed to test or manipulate the other person.
Trust is a firm belief in our own reliability and the reliability of another person. When trust is present, relationships find the right medium to bloom. Angeles Arrien reminds us that "trust is an inside job." To trust others and the circumstances first requires self trust.
Respect is the willingness to look again– past fixed perspectives, projections, the unfinished business of the past, and unresolved personal issues–to see another person truly. It is the ability to enter relationship from a place of confidence and recognize that every relationship is a mystery to be explored not a problem to be solved.
Honesty is the straight, simple and direct language of the heart. It knows no artifice and seeks no advantage. It is the ability to stand in the flow of your own unfoldment and testify to the mystery of living. When disclosure of thoughts, feelings, and needs are made clear relationships can advance. Witholding the truth tangles relationship in misunderstandings that lead to hurt feelings and power struggles.
Vulnerability is the quality associated with being undefended. We have given up our fears and have made a commitment to being ourselves, warts and all. We don't need to look good, have it all together or live up to the expectations of others. Rather, we are fine with who we are and have the courage and character to simply be ourselves.
The five qualities associated with intimacy are the requirements and the product of healthy relationships. Just these five practices alone are a pathway to enlightenment.
© Patrick O’Neill 2011. All rights reserved.