July 5, 2022

Relationships as Sadhana: 10 Ways to Turn Love into our Ultimate Spiritual Practice.

Spirituality.

We might think we only get to practice it in a yoga session or a meditation class. We might also grow and learn abundantly during a solo trip or an arduous, long hike.

Although it’s true that certain experiences can be more “spiritual” than others, we can’t really limit spirituality.

Sadhana is a Sanskrit term that means “spiritual practice.” It happens daily, from moment to moment, with the intention of transcending our ego. If we look around us closely, we’ll discover that everything we see and touch is sadhana.

Sadhana is limitless. There are no boundaries or rules that state what’s spiritual or not. The moment we genuinely grasp this notion, we live in an effort to grow, expand, and learn.

Just like we have classified yoga or meditation as “spiritual,” we have also taken relationships out of the equation. We give our all to make them perfect, and whenever they’re not, we fall into a pit of despair.

In our attempt to change and mold our partner, we might realize that our pursuit is elusive. And before we know it, our relationships turn from dreamy to toxic and our love changes from smooth to addictive. Like treasure hunters, we jump from one relationship to another, forever hoping to find the “gold.” The ugly truth is we never do.

We find the gold only when we choose to transform our relationships into a spiritual practice. As long as we’re pursuing a “perfect” love or merely ticking off a checklist, we will remain stuck in a romantic bond that will always be far from being enlightened.

If you want to experience bits of enlightenment and bliss, know that the best spiritual practice you have is present in everybody’s home: your relationship. There are many paths that lead to bliss and growth, and thankfully, romantic love is one of them. Your partner is your opportunity to practice and develop spiritually; you are their opportunity to fundamentally grow as well.

Here’s how love can become our ultimate sadhana:

1. Create opportunity—not certainty. When we enter a new relationship or write our wedding vows, we subconsciously aim for longevity. However, obsessing about the future keeps us fixed in fear and worry. Instead of aiming to create certainty, we should create opportunity—the opportunity to have a better today. What truly forms a successful future is the combination of beautiful moments collected (and created) over time.

2. Seek presence—not perfection. We can (and should) improve our relationships for the better—but we can never perfect them. Instead of seeking continuous happiness, we should be curious about our present moment. We should feel excitement, nervousness, and passion and wonder what this moment is bringing us. Whether it’s good or bad, high or low, we should let it in. This is real perfection.

3. Accept the love you receive. The way we wish to be loved is not necessarily the way we will actually be loved. Since we all have different love languages, we should never think we know our partner; we don’t. Our partners are susceptible to change, and we need to accept what they’re willing to give us—moment to moment. We should still voice our needs, but we shouldn’t get attached to how we might receive them.

4. Keep our ego in check. The best spiritual practice that’s almost always available in our relationships is when there’s conflict, disagreement, or misunderstanding. It is when our ego usually runs the show. However, it is our opportunity to act from a place of understanding and compassion instead of anger and hostility.

5. Make conscious choices. Every day, every hour, every minute. To make conscious choices means to constantly check in with ourselves about everything that involves our partner. We can replace ambiguity with honesty, animosity with forgiveness, and silence with honesty. Conscious choices make conscious and loving relationships.

6. Welcome difficult emotions. Genuine spirituality means to remain open to different kinds of emotions and experiences. Since life is generally unpredictable, we can’t expect feel-good moments and situations all the time. A conscious couple is willing to deal with any emotion that comes up. They help each other—not degrade each other.

7. Bring empathy into your bond. Without empathy, we can never expand our love bond. Even if we don’t deeply feel what our partner is feeling, we can still relate to them and harbor empathy. When we relate to each other, we strengthen our intimacy and trust.

8. Know that your partner is not your savior. A relationship can’t save you. In fact, it will bring to the surface all your darkest and most repulsive parts. This is why your partner is your guru. You save you, you do the job, but your “guru” will indirectly highlight what inner work needs to be done.

9. Work through your fears. The essence of spirituality is to feel the fear and do whatever it takes to break it. Relationships, in general, hold a lot of fear at their core—the fear of not being enough, the fear of separation, the fear of death, the fear of failure, and so on. Work through them!

10. Identify the triggers. Yes, our relationships also hold triggers. However, we either act upon them or acknowledge their presence and seek healing instead. Our traumas and childhood wounds will come up—for a reason, obviously.

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