I had a short conversation with my father a few days ago. He was telling me how he was trying to engage his granddaughter (my 9-year old niece) to solve maths riddles during a holiday on the beach. In a very light-hearted manner he was kind of complaining to me how it is usually not easy for him to interest my niece in doing intellectual exercises because all that she usually wants to do is to turn everything into play… I have to admit that I get tense every time I happen to hear him talking about the subject of child development. I was a little girl myself, and I had first hand experience of the harmful effect that my father’s teachings had on my life as a woman. My father carried on repeating what he told to my niece in his attempt to teach her “the truth about life”. It went something like this:

“When you grow up, you have three choices. One is, if you are very beautiful, you can marry a prince, and then you don’t need to study or know anything now, because the prince will take care of you. Second, you leave learning anything now, become a famous Hollywood actress and then you will be rich and able to do whatever you want since you won’t depend on anybody. But the third option, and the most likely one, is that you will have to work for money, which means that you have to learn a lot now, so you could know a lot of things, think fast and be better than others, so that people would want you…”

I even detected some pride in my father’s voice when he was telling me this little story. He was absolutely oblivious to the damaging effect his words had on my life. Lies travel fast, we say. Lies also travel long… It’s been forty years between the time when the “truth” about “my place and challenge in the world” entered my ears and now, when the same “masculine model of achievement and competition” was passed on to my little niece a generation down the line… All I could do in that conversation is to ask my father to stop talking and inform him in a rather abrupt manner that I disagree with his “life philosophy” because it’s just outright damaging and wrong. I felt my emotions and reactivity for a long time after this conversation took place. I was left feeling sad and bitter about being unable to give any clear explanation of my views and feelings to my 73-year old father, a self-made man, a distinguished maths professor, who grew up without a father in Russia after the second world war, and surely did the best he could as a father for his two daughters… Only a few years ago, the little girl inside me managed to forgive my father. My woman’s heart was finally healed and opened for love.

If you are one of those multitudes of women who received all sorts of damaging, diminishing or patriarchal messages about your life purpose and about who you truly are when you were a girl, throw these messages from your head forever and replace them with these:

I am Love. I am the resource, and my own cause. I have the power to create. I have the power to destroy. I choose. I am the Value, and I am enough. My feminine side manifests as being, changing, playing, and creating. I trust my intuition. I trust my body. I am free, and I don’t need to justify myself. There is no place I need to rush to. There is no one I need to be, as I already am, and ‘arrived’ when I was born, and this is Good.

Are you ‘stuck’ in your past? No? Check again…

Do you keep your ex-lovers in your life as rainy day male energy providers? You might not at all be considering ever getting back together with them but, nevertheless, they are able to provide occasional “no-strings-attached” emotional and/or physical comfort whenever you need it.

You might not be willing to admit it, but by keeping your ex-lovers at easy reach you are actually keeping yourself away from meeting a partner that could be just right for you. Because you know that you have a safety net of male energy and attention available “on demand”, you are less likely to trust, to commit, to be vulnerable, and to be fully open for any new relationship.

You can have a joyful, fulfilling, intimate, balanced and lasting love relationship with a man only if he is able to connect with you on four different levels: on a physical level, on a heart level, on an intellectual level and on the level of material resources. In other words, it means that:

  • Your sexual energy is available to him;
  • Your heart is open and vulnerable to allow him to know your emotions;
  • Your personal values and interests are compatible;
  • You are able to show him that he is needed and making a difference to your life by investing his resources (e.g. time, attention, money) into it.

If, at times when you feel like protecting your heart, you block the man who cares for you in one of those four dimensions by having some of your essential needs met by your male friends/ex-lovers at your convenience, your newly developing connection will suffer due to ‘energetic holes’ in it.

Being fully present for your relationship means that you are allowing the flow at all the four levels between you two while accepting the risk that your heart might be broken. If you can’t be fully present for your new relationship by keeping in touch with the ghosts from your past, you may not give it a chance to fully develop into what it could have been. Also you should not be surprised if you happen to experience distractions and invasions into your new relationship by other women who may wish to engage with your partner at the levels that are vacant.

I suggest you do an experiment. Try to delete all your ex-lovers’ numbers and e-mails from your phone. Is it hard for you? Why? How do these connections feed your different needs? If you are looking for lasting love and want to attract the right man into your life, you would want all energetic and emotional doors into your past romantic involvements to be firmly shut. Certainly, removing your past lover’s phone number might feel like a loss to you, but once you did this, the Universe would have heard your voice saying firmly and clearly that you don’t want to settle for less and that you are ready for a relationship that ‘has it all’.

About having control

Can you tolerate the frustration of not being in control over something? How far would you go striving for control? Is control something that you consciously pursue or something you deny wanting?  Today I wanted to ponder what ‘being in control’ means in our life… or at least what it means for me.

Looking back, I can see that all my past suffering was caused, one way or another, by my attempts to control the outcomes of particular life situations, especially in relationships. Acute suffering was felt every time when things were not going “my way”. My strong attachment to the idea of how things or people should be was making my life uneasy.

Some years ago I went to Amsterdam for a weekend with an Advaita teacher, Wayne Liquorman, and I remember him telling a story that stuck with me for years. It went something like that:

Imagine you are travelling on a boat along a river. You are holding a wheel and, at some point, you want to turn right. You turn the wheel right, and the boat turns right. Another time you choose to go left, turn the wheel left and the boat goes left. You believe you are in control of where you are going. And, suddenly, when it is time to choose a new direction again, you decide to go right, turn the wheel right and then, ooops… the boat goes left! Another turn comes, you want to go right, turn the wheel right and the boat goes left! “What’s going on?” – you are thinking, “the boat is broken! I need to fix it.” You still believe you are in control.

The teacher said something along the lines: “There is you on a boat, and there is a river. But the wheel is not attached to the boat… Sometimes the direction of where you want to go agrees with the direction the river is taking you. But sometimes it just doesn’t”. This truth about reality may sound very simple but, at the time, I didn’t understand what it was all about. Do I need to do anything at all with my life? Or should I be completely passive? If I do have to do something, then what is it? How do I know when to do and when not to do? Those were my questions. I didn’t know what life wants from me. I thought that everything depends on and rotates around me, so I just need to figure out what I want and press on with that.

Years after that Amsterdam trip, I figured out the answers. Or, to be more accurate, the answers dropped down from the level of a pondering mind right down into my body and heart. These days, whenever I become aware of wanting to control something, I remember the story about the boat and the river…

It has always been about the river. If we know the river, we can make a conscious effort and align our life and our desires with the river. If we pay attention to the river we will see that it has its laws, its purpose, and even its sense of humour. First and the most obvious observation we can make is that the river always flows, it always changes, and it never stops. Second, it flows somewhere. Where it flows we cannot see, because each of us is just “a body on a boat”. Third, the river is much bigger than all of us. It means, there is no point to resist it; we are not going to win.

What I want to say is that for me, it feels liberating let go of the fantasy of having control. The idea might be painful for some, but on a positive side, we can just relax and stop stubbornly stomping our feet and demanding the river to flow “our way”. The river doesn’t care; it just does its thing. We can either continue our fight for illusionary control, or we can try and quiet our relentless mind and let our heart learn the laws of the river. We can make its laws the laws we live by. We may even start wanting the same things as the river wants. Then life gets so much easier.

With our “eyes wide shut”

We always get very excited when we first meet someone who we really like and are attracted to. There is an energetic exhilaration in the body and we have these great expectations, even when the chances of being together with this new person, for whatever reason, are not very high. Somehow we manage to completely forget that after a brief period of infatuation and feeling of being “in love” with a less than suitable candidate we will inevitably face the pain of loss and separation followed by a substantial period of emotional recovery. This period of time when we need to energetically tear ourselves apart from our lover usually takes a lot of our attention and ‘heart space’ and makes us rather ineffective, “absent” or withdrawn from other important areas of our life: work, friendships, family.

So, why is it that, time after time, we enter a new relationship with our “eyes wide shut”? I was definitely one of those people who followed this kind of self-destructive pattern in the past. My reasons for doing this were chasing a feeling of “immediate self-validation” and running away from my past wound of feeling “rejected”. As a result of such compulsive behaviour, after each break-up I was feeling “more devalued” and “more rejected”. The emotional restoration work was getting harder and harder, until one day the wound of rejection presented itself fully and in all its grandeur to my awareness, taking me many years back in my history. If I try to describe this experience of the wound surfacing it would go something like this: there was an incredible pain with no end, which filled the whole body, while the body was physically unharmed. Tears were coming out with no warning as I went about daily tasks: washing dishes, sitting in the office at work, shopping… There was nowhere to run any more, and there was also no point. All I could do was just “be with it”. While “being with it”, I was looking back retrospectively at my life and relationships and I could see so clearly that running away from experiencing this pain was the deepest reason for all my self-compromising and self-destructive choices over the years. The pain lasted three days until one afternoon I suddenly felt something amazing happening in the body – I still have a vivid memory of it. The pain lifted and there was a shimmering, refreshing sensation of “reparation” in the whole chest area, accompanied by an incredible feeling of peace and crystal clarity, like the fog around me suddenly dissolved and, for the first time in my life, I found myself in the “here and now”. The world around me became different. It was Perfect and everything in it was made of Love. I remember walking down the street where I lived and just seeing things as if with new eyes. The mind was ‘in awe’ and I knew I was experiencing a true reality. My experience of life and the way I ‘navigate’ it have changed dramatically since then…

Is there a pain you are running away from? What motivates you to enter the “muddy waters” of a less than suitable relationship with your “eyes wide shut”, generating even more pain for yourself in the future? Giving full attention and staying present to your emotional pain, as it arises, is the biggest favour you can do to yourself and the greatest act of self-love.