Fitting the Pieces in the Puzzle of Life

I remembered some powerful relationship guidance from the Abraham Hicks Relationships Vortex Meditation that really helped me recently. This meditation is a series of divinely inspired statements to help align ourselves with the best vibration to attract good relationships into our lives. It has been 11 years since I first listened to them, and they keep coming up over the years with new layers of lessons and understandings. Two of them have came up for me in the time since writing my last post, and they have really helped me transform the little funk of isolation that has been nagging me.

The first goes something like this: “Do not to try to change to people to please you. Accepting them where they are will bring you ease.” The second suggests: “if you can release all concern for how others feel about you and focus only upon how you feel about them, you will discover who you truly are and what freedom really means.” I’m going to get to those lessons pretty soon, but first I want to talk a little about the picture of the squirrel in my Mom’s bird feeder, which illustrates some of the things I am learning about relationships.

My mom is 80 years old now, and she has been working in her garden for 50 years since she and my dad bought the place from my grandparents in 1972. She loves to watch the bird feeder and sits endlessly waiting for the return of a painted bunting, which I don’t think we’ve actually seen since about 1983. She is in relationship with the squirrels, who are big fans of her bird feeders. Every time they figure out how to get into them, my mom goes out and changes things around to defeat them. This is a kind of dance enjoyed by all sides. I went over to see her the other day, as I often do for iced tea, and we witnessed the most recent evolution of squirrel acrobatics and this fellow’s “first ascent” into the glory hole of the bird feeder.

I don’t really think this is bad news for my mother, who I believe actually enjoys leaving some opportunity for them, just so she can watch them figure it out. We went outside and lowered the back of chaise lounge which squirrel had used for a launch pad. Now there will be more time to sit in the Florida room with a glass of tea watching as the squirrel tries leap from a thin branch or other support. It’s a cycle that repeats itself, each time a little higher. This is the relationship between my mother and the squirrels. The squirrels do not change to please my mom, and she accepts them more or less how they are. They just go about their bird feeder dance. And judging by the fat belly of this particular offender, the deal isn’t working out so bad for him either.

These two lessons have helped me resolve a had kind of a funk that I was feeling around the time of Easter. As is so often the case, the funk we feel shows what is coming up for healing and growth as we make another cycle in the spiral of our lives. A teacher of mine once pointed out to me that we see the same situations in our life come around again and again, and if we pay attention and stay on the path of spiritual evolution, we will be a little higher on the spiral each time we go around. This is the gradual path of spiritual evolution that is the central purpose of our life here.

This mechanism works when we apply our learning and experience to the situations that continually arise. Every time we go through a challenge, we can learn more tools and skills that help us the next time. We can develop vigilance so we see our reactions before they take us over, we can develop humility so our ego’s do not carry us away, we can develop acceptance so we do not fall into the trap of self pity, we can reach for gratitude so we can look for the good in things, and of course, we can learn love. When we learn to look upon people and situations with love, then we can stay in our own vibration and not be consumed by external events and the reactions of other people.

I had been suffering from feelings of isolation, which had manifested in the sorrowful lament of “nobody wants to listen to me” which also means, “others do not value me.” This is an easy trap for me to fall into. I talked through it with a couple of my close relationships. Indeed, I was trained as a lawyer and as a negotiator in business. If I wrote a letter to an opposing attorney demanding the production of some evidence, they would never say, “you know the way you asked for those documents really made me feel dismissed, I’ll give them to you, but can you be a little nicer about it?” Nobody ever said “I understand that you are going with a competitor, but to tell me that in an email instead of in person felt cold.” I was deeply trained to focus on the matter at hand and to speak frankly about it. I was always trained to focus on the subject matter, not on the way it was delivered.

But relationships are so much more complex that business transactions! In relationships, the subject at hand is actually the interpersonal dynamics and the topic is the context in which they are played out. For example, a topic might be “where to order take out for dinner with friends” and the dynamic might be a power struggle over who gets their way. If someone is feeling ignored or abused, they will fight about where to order dinner. This deeper way of understanding communication is difficult for my masculine brain. I always tend think it’s about the pros and cons of sushi versus Indian cuisine.

It’s easy for me to tell myself a story that because I’m that way, that others just don’t like me very much, so I may as well not try. That’s the negative polarity. But that is a path that leads to nowhere. It is a path of self isolation and a joyless existence. It is far more interesting and fun to have a life of nuance and complex interpersonal relationships, and I am determined to continue learning. I think there are probably a lot of seven year old girls who are more advanced in this area than I am, and so for me, little bits of effort can produce big improvements. It’s kind of a converse way of thinking, but there is a certain joy in recognizing our weaknesses and working there, because it is there where we can find the greatest improvements.

My wife, Stephanie, and I went to Austin over the last weekend to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend who we have not seen since early 2020. We stayed in a cool AirBnb out the Hill Country with four other couples and spent the weekend together. I had never met our friend’s new husband, nor had I ever met two other men who were in close relationships with two of the other women there. So of the eight other people in the group, I knew only one of the men.

The trip was pretty short. We arrived Friday evening and left Sunday morning. Saturday we spent most of the day outside and then we had planned a festive wedding celebration Saturday night. By the time Saturday night arrived, I had met everyone, but not really made a connection. There had been too many outdoor activities, and not enough time yet. My wife was not feeling very well at the beginning of the evening, and so she had retired to our room to rest. Everyone else was down in the kitchen and on the porch, and I was feeling isolated and a little bit negative. I sat out on the porch by myself for a while and went into prayer and tried to connect to the force that was around me and inside me and look into it for lessons, and I got a good one.

I saw that my isolation was self imposed. I had a difficult experience in prior relationships where I was often subjected to harsh attacks and criticisms for friendships I developed outside the relationship. This dovetailed with an easy habit to assume that people don’t like me very much. I had internalized these reaction and agreed with them, and put myself into isolation. I myself felt resentment that I was not allowed to have friends, when my wife has never placed any such restriction upon me.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. One of the secrets to the relationship I enjoy with my wife is that we live in a tiny box of sacred intimacy that we share only with each other. And since that tiny box is so strong and secure, we are both free to enjoy our lives and have friends. My wife was feeling a little under the weather, but this did not mean I had to sit by myself. I resented the feeling of having to sit by myself, but it was only myself who had imposed this limitation. I was in a prison I myself had built, and I held the key in my own hand.

I saw another tendency that I have, which is to try to stretch my existing relationships to fill all the needs I have in the puzzle of my life. Some of these are rather personal, but I can give a broad overview. I love to go sailing, and this requires a few people. The boat is 50 feet long and in the best winds, it’s nice to have four people on board who know what they are doing. Stephanie, however, does not like to go on the boat unless it’s relatively calm and sunny. For her a good boat day is a five to ten knot wind, a short sail, a nice lunch and swim at anchor, and an easy sail downwind back home.

If I try to stretch Stephanie into sailing in heavier weather, I’m not going to do anything good for either of us. Instead, I need to accept her where she is, and then let other relationships come into my life to fill the gaps. This is true of other relationships. If I accept people as they are and celebrate the good energy they bring into my life, I don’t need to stretch them to fill parts of myself that are empty. Instead, I can leave them empty and sit in gratitude, and they will naturally fill themselves.

As I prayed for some understanding in the force that was surrounding me on that porch, I had a vision of a puzzle piece, on a blue sky background, with the image of a man sitting in meditation painted on it. The man had a serence smile. Around him in the blue sky were other pieces that were fitting together and also gaps where pieces were missing. I interpreted this as a metaphor for the relationships in our lives.

When we work on a puzzle, we do not file down the knobs or open up the holes or file down the corners to get the pieces to fit together. We do not stretch them to force them to cover empty spaces. We do not change the pieces to please us. Instead, we accept all of the pieces as they are and trust the divine to give us all the pieces we need.

The man at the center of the puzzle in this vision, was of course, myself. I could find peace by sitting in the middle, in a state of ease and appreciation of all that was going around me. I could focus on the divine love that we all have within us, and radiate this out through my eyes on the pieces that were around me. I did not have to worry about how they felt or reacted to me. Their lives would mesh with mine where there was harmony and that was fine. People who have strong negative reactions to me will be repelled from me. I do not have to get involved with those negative reactions, and I do not have to change them.

All of the people in our group were happy and friendly and the whole purpose of our gathering was for us to meet and get to know each other. My own negative thoughts and resentments were serving no one, least of all myself! I was self isolating, and then feeling lonely, and then resenting that loneliness. So with a little bit of prayer and a little bit of divine guidance and a little bit of remembering the vortex, and a little bit of force, I was blessed with an insight that I was able to act on.

So maybe the last time I was in that situation, I did not do quite as well. But this time around, I improved. Baby steps. This time I was able to find the gratitude and abundance in my heart, to look upon my friends from the lens of how I felt about them, which was good, because it is my nature to like people. But in order to like them, I had to let go of concern for how they might feel about me, which for many of us can be delivered in the form of fear that others will not like us. The second lesson has helped me to accept my relationships as they are, and not try to stretch them to fill what I perceive as gaps in my experience.

Now I have these understandings in my tool kit. Writing about them here helps to solidify them. In summary, I was given two keys. The first is to accept people as they are, and not try to get them to change to please me. The second is to focus on how I feel (or want to feel) about them, and not on how they feel (or how I fear they might feel) about me. With these two mantras, I can sit in the middle of the puzzle of my life and let the other pieces do their sacred dance. I hope this is helpful for you too. I hope it helps my mom and the squirrels too.

Peace.

Why and How To Release Relationships that Are No Longer Serving You.

My purpose in writing this post is to share a powerful prayer to release relationships that are no longer serving you, to express how to hold firm in the shaking and distress that comes as these relationships start to fall apart, and how to heal yourself after they have broken without needing to find agreement or resolution with the person with whom you have ended a relationship. To put this into context, I will start by sharing my personal story of how this came to pass for me.

But first a few words about ending relationships. This prayer is not for small disagreements or simple miscommunications. It is about resolving situations where the relationship itself is no longer in your highest and best good, and you need to be free of it permanently. We don’t want to call an end to our relationships every time we have a disagreement. The first step is to discern when a relationship can be repaired, and when it’s time to release it.

In my experience there are two principle types of disagreement. 80% of the time a disagreement arises, its because of a misunderstanding or miscommunication. 20% of the time, a disagreement arises because we want different things.

Miscommunications can usually be resolved. How many times has it happened that you thought lunch was at 12:30 and someone else thought it was 12:00? One time recently, I forgot to “reply all” to an email, and as a result, one person felt really left out and excluded. The tense situation came not because we wanted different things, but because of a miscommunication. These can happen when people project bad intentions upon us because they are hurt or whatever. They can be resolved by communication. Some people, however, love this kind of drama, and you might always find yourself apologizing and trying to smooth things over. It might not be worth it if it happens all the time with a particular person.

The other 20% is when we simply want different things. Imagine if you will two prisoners who are joined a the ankle by a chain. One is from Los Angeles and the other from New York. While they are incarcerated, they go from one place to the next as they are ushered throughout their day. They are very good friends, and they are very happy that they are not chained to someone difficult to deal with. But then one day, a tornado comes and cuts the power and knocks down the fence, and they escape. They agree as they run far from the prison. But then, one wants to go to LA, and the other wants to go to New York. If they cannot break the chain that binds them together (their relationship), they will not be friends anymore. Under their new circumstances, they want very different things.

In real life wanting different things often comes up as we grow. You might get married when you are 24 and talk loosely about having kids. Then when you are 32, one of you might say, hey I want to have a baby, and the other might say are you kidding? I just got my license to practice medicine and I’m not about to have a baby now. Problems like this do not generally get better with time. Sometimes this can be heart wrenching, but sometimes we simply grow out of relationships as we age. This is particularly true if we enter a relationship at a time of rapid personal growth.

In my case, I came to a prayer to end relationships that were no longer serving me after a very difficult meeting of our church community in October of 2018. One of the co-founders of our Church called a meeting of the Board of Stewards and prominent members of our group to raise concerns over my leadership of the Church. Needless to say, this was a very uncomfortable meeting for me.

As the meeting progressed, people expressed their opinions about how the works in our community should be led, what kinds of works we should do, how we should have more democracy in making decisions, how everyone who wanted an opportunity should be given the chance to lead works. These kind of abstract concepts of democracy pretty quickly descended to personal criticisms of my leadership style. The problem expressed was that I was too rigid, that I was insecure and could not let go of control, that I was part of the Patriarchy that was responsible for the suppression of women, that I did not have the most experience in the group, that others knew better than I did, that I needed to humble myself because I was arrogant, that I need to share leadership of the church, and that I was too stubborn.

This went on for literally two hours before I finally accepted the talking stick. By that time, pretty much everyone in the room had expressed their feelings about me and my leadership of the community. As I held the stick and looked out around the room, it became very clear to me. We were not suffering from a misunderstanding, we were suffering from being stuck in relationship where we all wanted different things.

Let me give you an example that is free of emotional charge. Our doctrine calls for works to be held on the 15th and 30th of every month, regardless of what day of the week those dates fall on. Some people complain about this because they don’t want to be up late during the week. I understand this, because for many years, I had to get up at 6:30 in the morning after our sessions to drive my step daughter to school, and so I understand that it’s not always convenient. But for others, particularly in the hospitality industry here in MIami, they can’t take off work on Saturdays, so they are very grateful that some of our sessions fall mid week.

It was suggested that we vote on this, and I was criticized for refusing to do so. But there is nothing to vote on. The calendar is the way Mestre left it, and works are the 15th and 30th. For some this is convenient for others it is not. But it is what it is. I refused to put that to a vote and instead reaffirmed that we would be holding works as the calendar dictates. This is just one example of people wanting different things. It was clear that there were many disagreements about many important things that could not be resolved, and so it was time to dissolve many of these relationships.

I said a prayer at the dawning of the year of 2019. I wrote a prayer for the new year and asked to be released from relationships that were are longer serving me. And so I invite you to do that now. If you are open to this, I would call for the aid of Saint Michael to come and cut the cords of relationships that are not serving.

Close your eyes in concentration, and imagine a bright blue light filling up your third eye. Call to mind any relationships that are not serving you. This should not be hard, because they tend to create a lot of “thought activity” and distress in your mental landscape. Now sit with each relationship as it arises. Imagine you had news that this person received an opportunity to have a great life in a far away place. If they accept, they will be happy and fulfilled and all of their needs will be met. Imagine they tell you that are considering whether or not to accept this invitation. If they do so, they will be leaving on a journey, and will not be returning. They will have to say goodbye to you potentially forever. As you imagine this, notice how you feel about each person that comes to mind, and be honest.

If you would on balance be sad they are leaving, then it suggests you still have more work to do with that person. But if the thought of them leaving, and being perfectly ok without you, gives you a big sense of relief, that is a clear sign that the relationship is no longer serving you. Now as you continue your meditation, separate them into two groups, those who stay and those who are to go.

Now as you consider the individual or group that is going, the next step is to offer them full forgiveness for anything they have done. This is not necessarily to communicate this forgiveness to them, but more to release any baggage you have. Take any negative feelings, memories, emotions or energetic sludge that you have inside you and put it into a imaginary container that you will put on the ship they sail away on. Forgiveness in this context is simply putting down your negative emotional baggage. Here you can say another prayer to Saint Michael archangel to use his sword of crystal light to gently cut away any negative emotions you have in connection with that person. Say to yourself “I wish for you that you realize your most intimate aspirations.”

Now continuing your concentration, scan through your emotional body for feelings and thoughts about the person. Particularly in obsessive or addictive or highly toxic relationships, there can be a lot of energy flowing from you to this person. You may depend on them for financial support or maybe you fear being without the person. Maybe you will feel like you let your kids or your family down. Maybe you fear you will look foolish or be alone. Maybe they have drilled into your head that you can never be ok without them. Maybe they constantly activate some wound that you have from your childhood. These can be very serious things, but it’s time to let go. Imagine these feelings are an energetic cord that keeps you bound to this person like the chain in the analogy of the prisoners. It is no longer in your highest good to be bound to this person, and even though its going to hurt and be scary when you cut the bond, you have to cut it.

So now invoke Saint Michael Archangel again, and ask that he use his sword of crystal light to sever the bonds between you and the person or people you are letting go of. It helps in this moment to make a physical gesture of gently sweeping the sword around you and imagining all the cords being cut. Finally, now that the cords are cut, wish the person well as they embark on their new journey without you. You can repeat this process as many times as you like.

The next step is in the material world. You have set a powerful intention to be free of these relationships. The first thing likely to come is a disagreement with the person. Instead of dreading this, or feeling this is bad, welcome it. Recognize this as the energy you prayed for arriving to free you. This time, don’t try to fix it. For some relationships, the energy necessary to break free can be very very strong.

Back to my personal story, after i said that prayer at the end of 2018, things started to kind of fall apart. An elder from Brazil was coming and there was a debate about what works we should do. There was at the time another church in the Miami area, that had strong opinions about what we should do when the elder arrived. It happened that I was going to see the elder in another city on the tour, and so I said that I wanted to have the opportunity to talk to him and ask him what he thought we should do. I expected that he would want to sing one of the official collections of hymns, because his visit to Miami coincided with one of the official dates of our calendar, which called for that collection of hymns to be sung on that date. So this became a big disagreement between me and the other leaders of our church that I had prayed to be released from.

So I stuck to my guns. I said I understand that you want to respond right away saying that we want to do such and such works, and I am just letting you know that I am going to talk to the elder about it when I see him, and see what he says. This deteriorated into an all out fight, and as a result my wife and I split from the rest of the group, and started our own small Church for those who wanted to walk the path with us. I had to let the energy of the disagreement build and welcome it. You might have to do that too.

Sometimes these relationships just fizzle out, and it’s a simple matter of not responding to a couple of texts and then they go away. If so, be grateful, and resist the urge to reach out to them. Let them go and let them seek their own path. Other times the break up of the relationship is more dramatic.

So when the energy comes, you need to shift. Do not try to make it better. Let it build. It is the force you need to end the relationship. At some point, when it bursts, all the venom and anger and violence that has been festering in the relationship may explode. It might end with “Fuck you I never want to see you again.” Remember, the worse it is, the more you needed to get out of it.

Sometimes, however, people cling on in desperation, and it might be you that has to take the terminal action. This is true of most parasitic relationships where the other person is feeding off of your energetic or material resources. Parasites don’t like to leave their hosts. You may have to order them to move out of your house, or you might have to tell them you are moving out of their house. Say very clearly that you no longer wish to be in relationship with them. Ask them not to contact you any more. Then get them out of your social media world, block their phone and send their emails right to trash if necessary. Be ready for this. Protect yourself by being ready to hear insults. Call again on Saint Michael Archangel for protection and say thank you for bringing the energy necessary to end the relationship.

The final stage is healing. And here is the trick. You are healing yourself, not the other person. The other person needs to find his own path and his own healing. You are no longer that person’s resolution. There is no need to find “closure” with someone when you are terminating a relationship. For me the analogy of a flock of birds or a school of fish is very helpful. For a while, you had a special relationship with this one particular bird. But now, you have returned it to the flock. You love it like you love all birds, but not in particular.

If this was a significant relationship, it might take a long time to heal. In a romantic relationship, a good rule of thumb is it takes AT LEAST three months plus another month for every year of the relationship existed to heal. So if you were in an intimate romantic relationship for five years, it will likely take you a full 8 months to heal. Take a break for this person during this time, and above all, resist the temptation to ask them to comfort you. Resist the temptation to explain yourself. Resist the temptation to check their social media. Again you can pray to Saint Michael Archangel to help you heal.

It is helpful to release any idea of who is right and who is wrong. It’s simply that the relationship is no longer in your highest and best good.

Good luck.

Peace