My wife and I spend a lot of time together. We live, work, travel, and facilitate with one another. And, as you’d expect, that’s come with occasional disagreements, diverse opinions (we don’t always see eye-to-eye on things – imagine that!), and conflict. So, we’ve learned a lot of wonderful ways to not just endure, but to thrive in our relationship—and to really find golden opportunities in various situations.
These tools have actually turned occasions of struggle or disappointment into the tangible reality of more intimacy, joy, and depth in our relationship. And that, in turn, has made us healthier and happier as individuals and as a couple.
There are so many pent-up emotions nowadays. Anxiety, fear, frustration, and sadness (and sometimes some joy.) What I hear from a lot of people is that this emotion comes in waves, and it’s difficult to process. We need to allow ourselves a space to release our emotions and pay attention to our emotional body.
This emotional release can look different for everybody. Sometimes it’s a growl, sometimes it’s a shake, but it’s always a physical expression of emotion that allows us to dial in and focus on what our bodies need. Lately, I’ve been taking half an hour to 45 minutes to just emotionally release—and the shift in energy feels amazing. By letting the negative emotions manifest in our minds, we allow them to recycle, leading to the very havoc we’re trying to avoid.
Resourcing means that we do things that are good for us – mind, body, emotions, or spirit. When we don’t do this, we become frustrated and irritable. Over time, this leads to burnout. When we do resource ourselves, it’s like filling up our own gas tank. For example, take one place in (or out of) the home that you designate a sacred space. In our home we decorate this area with things that mean the most to us and remind us of the beautiful—such as candles, flowers, and photos of loved ones. This is the place we go when we need a connection to grace. Or, sometimes we’ll ask the people around us to give us a moment of space so that we can focus on our emotional resourcing. Whenever we resource, we drink from that inner well and have more to give to the people around us.
To retreat means to come to a place that’s apart from the business of the world, and to spend time with grace. This is a much-neglected practice in the Western world, and the cost is high. If we cannot learn to be alone with grace and ourselves, nothing else much matters, because the deep peace we are seeking, and the good we may be trying to do in the world, won’t be permanent or effective. On the other hand, when we cultivate a regular experience of retreat, we access the most resourced, solid, and effective part of ourselves.
To this end, we highly recommend a daily spiritual practice as a regular retreat. This spiritual practice may look different for different people. Some people respond best to chants, prayers, and music, but devotional dance is also a very accessible spiritual practice when we feel like we can’t be burdened by intense thought. As long as it’s a sincere emotion, everything can be brought to grace. Picking a time to consistently devote to spiritual practice is hard—but it’s essential. It can also be done with our partners. Even if it’s only five minutes, we at COR offer daily grace guides that make the process very accessible.
In order to truly retreat, it’s also imperative to limit our exposure to social media. For a lot of people, social media is the first thing they see in the morning and the last thing they see at night. The first and last thing we should be doing with our day is allowing for grace. It’s dooming to take in so much opinionated content while our brains are booting up or winding down. There’s great information on social media, but it’s important to be very selective when we get to it.
Reconnecting is the process of intentionally setting aside time with a loved one after we have given ourselves an experience of release, resource, and/or retreat. When we approach our relationships having tended to these basic needs, we bring our best selves to the relationship. We move ourselves out of the reactive mode in which we often find ourselves, and into a place of freedom, ease, and grace.
This has a huge impact on those around us – spouses, partners, children, family, work relationships, you name it. When we are resilient, our relationships are resilient. And that’s the place from which we cultivate rich, joyful, meaningful, lasting, and authentic relationships.
So, once you’ve tended to the “inner” connection with the outer, especially to the loved-ones in your life, make space to talk, to eat together, to play a game or a sport, to take a walk, or just to sit and watch the sunset.
If We Can’t Go Out, Let’s Go In
The outside outlets that rejuvenize our lives won’t always be there—so it’s important to find resilience and reconnection from within. If we can’t find it within, we’ll never find it without. We are our own sanctuary. Inside all of us is an indwelling presence of eternal goodness, beauty, and truth—waiting for us to finally pay attention to it.