A friend asked me, “Here in the US, it seems that we are on the brink of massive darkness, and I would love to know, how do we navigate this very difficult time?”
In another blog post, I wrote about the importance of each of us staying in our own lanes and doing what we can do. For me, what’s happening now makes it truly clear—each one of us needs to be in our own lane, fully, fully, fully present and fully involved.
This is critical because there are those who bring darkness, so we’ve got to have those who bring light. Really, we need more and more and more of the people who bring light in their own amazingly unique ways. They bring light by being who they are, doing what they do; they just need to bring light, and bring as much light as possible.
Navigating these times isn’t about fighting the darkness. Instead, it’s about bringing the light.
Luckily, I have a splendid way of sharing a way to do that. It’s something I do to cut across this topic with a couple. That way is the following:
The first thing that I do with a couple, is I ask them, “What is your wildest dream for your relationship?”
When you dream, what is your deepest longing? What lives in your heart? When you dream from that place, you always dream from essence, which is amazing because they often come to me having a horrendous power struggle about “I believe this,” and, “I’m right.” The dream section of our work together, the first part, the foundational step, cuts across and what then emerges is an archetypal story. “Once upon a time a little girl was born, a little boy was born and this is what they lived, and this is what they experienced, and then they dreamt one day.
That’s how I start because I want to meet them in their essence because I know I’m going to later ask them to have their most horrible, loaded, embarrassing conversation, so I want to know them in their essence.
Then, I invite them to have that most horrible, loaded, embarrassing conversation. In that conversation, it actually doesn’t matter what they believe or who they are in their essence. They will fight. They will be in conflict. One of them will be a hailstorm and that person’s energy is going to expand, and one of them is going to be the turtle and that person’s energy is going to constrict and get quiet and that is actually what’s going on in the relationship all the time. It’s a survival dance.
If you look at what happened in Portland, the federal troops were the ones coming in with their force and the people on the street have to somehow freeze, one way or another—it’s frightening when you watch someone get picked up and taken away in front of you. That person who was protesting suddenly freezes for survival.
That dance is also a survival dance in our planet, and it isn’t right or wrong. It’s just a survival dance…but survival doesn’t allow us to live in our essence.
And, once you’re in survival, you simply cannot be in your essence. It’s either you’re in survival and coping or you’re in your essence and living.
With a couple, we do that horrible, loaded, embarrassing conversation, but just for 13 minutes and I do it for 13 minutes only because of the symbolism. In Hebrew, the letters in the word “thirteen” have a numerical value that translates to “love and oneness.” And that’s the place I’m guiding them to.
When I have them do their survival dance, it’s in the name of love and oneness.
And, at the end of the 13 minutes, I emphatically tell the couple to stop, and they stop right then, even if they’re halfway through a word.
But the survival dance that’s occurring in our civiliation is not in the name of love and oneness and no one jumps in after 13 minutes and says, “Stop!”
But, my big dream is that ultimately, there will be someone of that caliber that can say to the world, “Okay, we’ve had our whatever billions of years of survival and this horrible dance that we’ve been doing. Stop. Let’s observe.”
Observation is the next thing I guide a couple to. I put them in the seat of the observer and have them watch themselves doing that 13-minute survival dance.
In the dance, the brain is doing the reptilian thing, screaming “Danger, danger!” But something magical happens when people become observers.
So, watching the dance, the woman is crying and she’s banging the wall between them and the man is surviving and he gets smaller and she gets bigger and he’s looking through a little hole to see if she’s still screaming at him.
I have them describe their dance from the observer’s point of view. I will always ask, “If you do this in a restaurant, will the waiter come and refill your water and they’ll say, “No.” He’s going to have a glass thrown at him if he does!” The waiter can see it’s not just them, but it’s the whole atmosphere around them. That atmosphere is the atmosphere of survival. It’s toxic for a couple in their relationship, and it’s toxic for all of us living on this planet and in this civilization.
It doesn’t matter whether I say it’s wrong and you say it’s right or vice versa. It doesn’t matter what I believe that you don’t. It doesn’t matter who you support that I don’t support. We are living in the atmosphere of survival and nothing has been able to come and say to us, “Stop this now.” And, we haven’t stopped to observe on our own because we’re too busy trying to survive and cope, and we don’t know how.
With a couple, we do get to observe the dance they’re doing. I write it all down and then I have a story of their survival dance. We don’t have a story of our survival dance as a civilization, as observers, as people who look together and really see what’s going on.
We would need to have a way to look together. We would all sit together and go, “Let’s watch the survival dance we’ve been doing for centuries. Let’s describe it, so that we now know. We’re going to do something completely different. The first thing we’re going to do is honor the space. We’ve polluted it. We’ve polluted the environment, both physical and emotional. We’ve polluted everything.”
When a couple sees that pollution I’ll ask them, “What do you see in the space between you?” And they’ll say, “A fire.” They’ll say, “A storm.” They’ll say, “An abyss.” They’ll say, “A desert.” They’ll see the things between them.
But we, as the inhabitants of the planet Earth, have not considered the pollution.
Each couple who learns to sit together and look and observe makes a difference to our civilization because when a couple steps out of a survival dance and learns to actually have an intentional relationship, where they intentionally cleanse the space between them, where they intentionally cross the bridge to the other, where they intentionally enter the dimension of the real encounter of humans, that couple is one more couple on the side of the light; one more couple who knows how to live in connection rather than survive in isolation or cope in isolation. Our civilization is coping in isolation.
And the more couples that we get on the side of the light, the more couples will live in connection intentionally and create more light. That light then gets shared with their families, their siblings, their children, their friends, the people they work with, and you can then see how the light grows without having to do anything to quell the darkness.
Right now, so many of us are living the individual paradigm instead of the relational paradigm.
The individual paradigm says our highest purpose is autonomy, independence, becoming who you are, individualization and separation. Our Western culture has really been focused and rooted in the individual paradigm.
The relational paradigm says our essence is in connection. The smallest unit is two. Unless we know how to be in relationship, we really aren’t in our essence. Claiming deep, intentional, productive connection is us cleaning our nature. We’re interdependent. The highest purpose is to learn to be both independent and dependent.
When we’re in our survival dance, we are always coping in isolation instead of living in connection. What couples are learning when they come to me is to go from the first to the second, and that’s how they become part of the big group that lights up the world.
That’s my lane. I need to be available to help couples do that. Period. And we need more couples in our civilization who want to be in the lane where they learn a new dance and who are willing to do the journey from survival to life.