It’s Not About the Stress…or the Stuff

(Excerpted from Your Spacious Self by Stephanie Bennett Vogt)

No one would argue that most of us do too much or have more possessions than we need. Or both. With our lives swept up in a swirl of attachments, worry, and endless, mechanical “doing,” our minds become fuzzy on what stays and what goes, what matters and what doesn’t. As humans, it is in our nature to experience clarity and spaciousness all the time. The problem is that we lose focus, get off balance, and forget how.

So how do we dial it back or even begin to reduce the noise, release the stuff that doesn’t serve and support us, and connect with that which makes our hearts sing?

One minute at a time. In present time.

No matter how miniscule the task or effort, the fact is that clearing anything consciously and gently, as this book teaches, creates an energetic opening – a spaciousness – that will work on you slowly and surely to soften your attachments to things, beliefs, and outcomes.

Whether your clutter challenge is the stuff spilling out of the closet or the noise spinning around in your head, or both, here’s what I know for sure – distilled to its bare essence:

Let me explain.

In the end, it is not about tackling the unsightly messes, the boxes of who-knows-what mildewing in the basement, or the clothes that don’t fit.

It’s not about the mountain of mail, the emails that invade your inbox, or the pile of medical bills that the insurance company refuses to cover.

It’s not about the care that needs new tires, the crazy-ass housemate who won’t turn her music down, or the neighborhood dog that barks all night.

Nor is it about “fixing” yourself.

It’s not about the despair you feel over the dishes that no one bothers to was and put away, the to-do lists that get longer by the second, or the fact that you have zero time for yourself.

It’s not about the hopelessness you feel, your inability to say no, or the fear of someone discovering your dark secret.

Clearing is not about any of those things. It is how…you…relate…to…them.

It is the space between the problem and the solution where the real juice is, where the real clearing happens. And the only way to release what isn’t working for you is to enter that sometimes-scary zone called feeling.

Feeling the overwhelm, resistance, attachment, guilt, sadness, worry, despair, shame…

Feeling it all- without judging it as good or bad or taking it personally.

We do not need fixing. The core of our being is not broken. We humans are simply out of touch with our true selves and out of balance. And, by extension, our homes and world are out of balance because we are. Not the other way around.

When you can allow feelings to arise in all their messy glory without fixing or judging or personalizing, tat is when the clutter you experience “out there” – in your home and life – magically melts away.

No matter what your clutter challenge is, as you practice clearing in this way, you’ll begin to notice some shifts taking place in your life. Who knows what that might look like for you. It might start as a tiny peephole of space that wasn’t there before. An ah-ha. A kindness. A quieter dog. A surprise check in the mail. Less junk mail. Fewer pounds. A job offer. Fewer buttons getting pressed. Better sleep. More energy. More joy.

More you.

More real, spacious you.

Support the Journey

In this journey, there are two things you can almost count on: First, there is no way to predict what will happen as you clear; and second, no matter how good your intentions may be, if there is a monkey mind lurking in your head space, it is easy to fall off the wagon, get discouraged—or plain lost.

For that reason I am including these reminders to help bring you back. Write them down in your journal or on a Post-it note. If you can remember to adopt these guiding principles as part of your daily practice, I can almost guarantee that you will clear more stress and clutter than you ever imagined possible.

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Are you ready to learn more about how you can cultivate Your Spacious Self? This title is available now from all major retailers!

 

Also, stay tuned for space clearing expert Stephanie Bennett Vogt’s latest book, A Year for You, forthcoming in October, 2019!

 

 

Cultivating the Silent Knowledge at the Heart of True Wisdom…

from The Wisdom of the Shamans

by don Jose Ruiz

 

In the Toltec tradition, we have a concept called silent knowledge, and cultivating your connection to it can help you find the truth within yourself.

Silent knowledge is a knowing that is beyond the thinking/discerning mind. It is difficult to write or talk about, because language is the main tool of the discerning mind, but I will do my best to explain.

Silent knowledge is the deep, innate wisdom that is in all things. It comes from the interconnectedness of all beings and creatures. It is the wisdom of the universe. For instance, if you’ve ever simply known the answer to a question without any logical way that your brain could have discovered it—like when a mother can feel that her child is in danger or when you know the moment a relative transitions into death—this is all silent knowledge. It is the universal wisdom that has always been at our fingertips, but that we often neglect to tap into, either because we don’t know or have forgotten how.

Being able to see the next right action in any given situation, disregarding the mitote (the noisy voices that clamor for your attention) in your mind—this is silent knowledge, and as you begin to unravel your domestications and live in a way that feels authentic to you, you will find yourself in touch with it. When you develop an awareness of silent knowledge, you begin to shift your attention to it more often, especially when faced with an important choice or decision.

The insights that you get from silent knowledge can come to you in the form of an inspired thought or even an energetic feeling in your body. In either case, when a message comes to you from silent knowledge, you sense a “knowing” that the insight you are receiving is not from your thinking mind.

Furthermore, silent knowledge never carries the energy of hate, resentment, or revenge. If any message you get originates from this type of energy, then you know that this is not silent knowledge, but coming out of the mind’s addiction to suffering instead.

Another means for accessing silent knowledge is to pay attention to your emotions. When it comes to making decisions, our emotions can sometimes be better indictors that our discerning minds.

For instance, let’s say you are trying to make a decision about a situation and one choice may seem correct logically, but you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right. Let’s say you’ve been offered a new job with better pay, but when you visit with your potential employer, you get a negative vibe inside that you can’t explain.

Rather than dismiss those sensations, it would be wise to recognize them as clues from the realm of silent knowledge. This doesn’t necessarily mean the answer is a “no” and you shouldn’t take the job, but rather that you should do more investigating before making a final decision.

Silent knowledge is available to you right now, and one helpful step to finding it is to practice outer silence and meditation. Meditation is a powerful tool for many spiritual practices. For the Toltec, meditation is used in a variety of ways, but one of the most important benefits is that in meditation we are able to see past the mitote of the mind. Doing so creates an environment within ourselves that allows us to better connect to silent knowledge.

Meditation Exercise

For this meditation, our goal is to open ourselves to silent knowledge. To begin meditating, find a quiet, comfortable space where you won’t be interrupted for the next several minutes. This could be on the back porch while the pets are inside, in the bathtub because the bathroom door is the only one that keeps the kids out, or in an armchair in the study. There is no wrong place or posture for meditation, so experiment and find what works best for you.

Our goal will be to simply open your mind and allow universal wisdom to be present in your awareness. As you become more familiar with meditation, feel free to ask or meditate on certain questions that you need to have answered. By taking questions into your meditation, you will be bringing them to the source of all wisdom and may receive your answers in the form of silent knowledge.

Once you find a quiet place and a comfortable position, close your eyes and take a few moments to settle in. For this meditation, I want you to just listen. Listen to any sounds happening outside of you without putting too much importance on any of them. What do you hear? The wind rustling in the trees? The hum of the refrigerator in the other room? Take it all in, it’s all welcome here. Now I want you to listen to the silence that is just behind the sounds you hear. The silence is there: it’s the space which makes hearing the other sounds possible. Hold that silence in your mind as you find it.

Next I want you to bring your attention inward—listening to the silence that is inside you. Like the silence on the outside, inner silence is underneath all the other sensations you find. The mind will wander and begin to think—because that is the nature of the mind—but when it does, gently try to release those thoughts and find the silence again, and again, and again.

When you first start meditating, you may not be able to hold this silence for long, and that is okay. The key is to judge nothing, but just listen. When the mind wanders, you simply bring it back to listening to the outer world, then the silence on the outside, and then the silence on the inside. If you are new to meditation, begin by doing this for just five minutes at a time. If you like this practice, try to go a little longer and then a little longer each time, building up to thirty minutes or more. Your mind will still wander, but you will find it easier to bring it back to the silence the more you practice.

If you would like to take a question into meditation, ask the question once at the beginning of the meditation and then begin your meditation listening to the outer world and then to the silence behind all the sounds, both without and within. It’s important that you ask your question and then let the question go. In these moments of stillness found in meditation, silent wisdom may come to you regarding your question, or you may find through meditation that the question is unimportant and no longer needs an answer.

 

 

Ready to explore more of how The Wisdom of the Shamans can help you find your own inner wisdom? Now available in paperback with a new foreword by Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements and the father of don Jose Ruiz! This title is available from all major retailers and on our website. To learn more about this powerful book, and to read the introduction for free, click here.

 

 

To the Son I Never Had: A Love Letter to Men and Boys by HeatherAsh Amara

 

Last year I wrote a blog called “To the daughter I never had” where I shared my experiences spending time with an ex-boyfriend's budding-into-teenager daughter (read that blog here).

I received so many emails from women who were deeply touched by the writing and message of that blog and were so grateful to share it with their daughters. I also received several emails from men asking, “can you please write a blog like that so I can share it with my son?”

So here are my thoughts on what I would want my son to know as he grew into adulthood.​​​​​​​

​​​​​​​This is also a love letter to all men who are on a path of healing and working toward dismantling the old paradigm of domination, patriarchy, and repression. I see you and am grateful for you. May these words help clear the old structures and wounding so that we may all step beyond the shackles of harmful gender-based roles and agreements.

An important reminder: there are many beings who do not identify with the limited and binary definitions of men and women. These people are the visionaries and leaders of a new way of being, the vanguards helping us all to move beyond the stereotypes and false simplicity of masculine vs feminine. I'm not meaning to exclude anyone from this blog. “My son” is for anyone who is male-identified or gender fluid.

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Dear One,
​​​​​​​

We live in changing and exciting times. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift, and you are a part of that new wave. And while this time brings new possibilities and ways of being it can also bring confusion, mixed messages, and a sense of not knowing where you fit in or how to respond.

In my parent's lifetime, your grandparents, the world was very different. Roles for men and women were highly segregated and formulaic; men were supposed to make the money and take care of all the finances and women were supposed to stay home and take care of the children. Men were seen as superior; women were seen as inferior. Men were taught not to have feelings or get too attached; they were supposed to be stoic, solid, and always in control. Women were seen as overly emotional, needing of protection, and weak. And women were believed to be good at housekeeping and child raising only, except when we were at war and women were brought into the workplace.

Of course, there were exceptions even 50 to 60 years ago; women became pilots or doctors, men stayed home and took care of the children. However, it was extremely rare, and there was a lot of pushback whenever someone stepped out of those old designated roles.

I'm telling you this because it is important to understand where we have been, in order to know how to step more mindfully into where we are going. The attitudes and beliefs of your great grandparents, your grandparents, and your parents will continue to be carried forward by you in many subtle ways unless you very consciously choose to change them. Many of these old beliefs are still held in obvious and subtle ways by our culture and by the people in power. And you also need to understand, so you are not surprised or confused by people's reactions to you, why there may be times you get very strong messages from your elders or your peers to be different or “toe the line.” You might be called “sissy” or “pussy” or “just like a girl.” You might be harassed for being too “feminine” or for “being pussy-whipped.” But these insults only work if you believe that being likened to a girl is bad. And that is what the culture is still trying to use to keep men and women in boxes and behaving “as they should.”

Being a man does not mean you have to be tough or unemotional or responsible for everything. Growing from a boy to a man is about finding your center, living from your heart, and fiercely loving.

Whether you are sexually attracted to boys or girls, how you choose to dress, what you are passionate about, and how you want to show up in the world is part of the adventure of learning who you are. Please don't let anyone outside of you tell you that you should be different. There will always be people who will tell you that you are doing it “wrong” or who will judge you because of your choices. I will always stand by your right to choose. That is your birthright. And your choices are precious and powerful and I will support them unconditionally.​​​​​​​

Know, however, that not everyone will. If you stray from the invisible line of what is “proper” according to someone else’s standards, you may find they demean or even actively try to hurt you. But there are also so many role models that can inspire you to be fully yourself. These are people who have gone against the old rigid definitions of “masculine” and “feminine,” people who step outside of those fixed and tiring gender lines, and have blazed a new trail. You will also be blazing a new trail with your being.

In regards to your sexuality, which is a beautiful and powerful part of you...

Get to know your own body. Everyone is different, and as your hormones come on line you'll find lots of things changing with your body. It is natural and beautiful to feel desire and to feel turned on by some of the people around you. And it can be confusing to know how to be in those relationships. Start by getting to know how you like to be touched, where your body is sensitive, and what makes you feel good. Pleasure is one of the greatest gifts of being human, and your body is a buffet of sensations and experiences, from learning what textures, smells, and colors you like, to learning how to bring yourself to climax using your hands while being connected to your heart.

Take your time being sexual with others. There is no rush to connect sexually with someone else; no end goal as to what it should look like. Go slow. Listen to your own body and heart. Learn to “court” lovers by getting to know them: what they like, where they struggle, what they dream about. Share who you are. Be vulnerable. The best sexual relationships come from intimacy, though there is nothing wrong with being sexual with a willing partner that you don't know... this can be a wonderful exchange of energy and passion! But always remember there is no rush. Savor the moment of touch and connection.

Why consent is so important. This is hard to talk about, but it is so very important. There are as many as 1 in 3 girls and women who are sexually assaulted at some time in their life, and as many as 1 in 8 boys and men. There is a tremendous amount of wounding around sexuality for many people, both intentional and unintentional. Women are especially wired to “freeze” if they feel they are in danger. There is an old belief that women should be sexual even if they don't want to be. It can be easy to overstep boundaries if you fail (even unintentionally) to communicate clearly with your partner. First, never be sexual with someone who has been drinking or doing drugs and cannot truly give consent, because their normal functioning brain is impaired; they may not be acting from their most centered place. If you are not sure, ask. If you feel there is a wobble or a hesitation, ask more questions or wait until your partner is clear headed and they tell you they are really ready and willing. And always check in with yourself about whether or not you are wanting to be sexual; never let yourself get pressured to do something you do not want to. Honor your body.

Learn to hold your desires and respect others. Being sexually turned on by someone does not mean that you must be sexual with them! You will be excited and lit up by many people in your life, whether you are single or in a committed relationship. This is one of the lovely things about being in a body, feeling that sense of desire and yumminess around other people. You don't have to repress it or pretend you are not turned on, and you also do not have to act on it or share it with others. Learn to feel that inner fire and use it to fuel your joy, creativity, and passion for life. If you are in a committed relationship take the energy that sparks you and share it with your partner (I mean share energetically, not necessarily verbally unless your partner is very open!) Don't be ashamed of your sexuality or feel you have to deny that life force moving through you. And know that you get to decide how you run that energy through your body.

Get to know your partner's body. In movies and books, people effortlessly and passionately fall into each other's arms and know exactly how to please each other. That is not always the reality! Sometimes it takes time to learn how to pleasure your partner, and to show them how to pleasure you. Be an open-minded and open-hearted student of each person you connect with sexually, as all bodies and people are different. Ask questions, try new things. Variety and exploration are the spice of sensual connection. And know that especially for women, you can do something one day that will drive her wild, and then do the exact same thing the next day and she will hate it. Women's hormones change so drastically from week to week that you will need to learn to read where she is in her cycle and how she likes to be touched or held, for example when she is ovulating vs when she is menstruating. There are books and videos that can help you learn how to pleasure a woman or a man to have multiple orgasms, to ejaculate (woman), or to orgasm without ejaculating (man).

Lead with kindness and compassion. The old model of “manhood” is tied up with always being strong and never showing emotions. Many men have not been allowed, or have not allowed themselves, to connect with their emotions and inner needs. Because this is modeled so strongly by many men in business, in the movies, and in the media, the old model can be easy to slip into. Always remember that knowing your emotions and being vulnerable is your superpower. When you are in touch and fluid with your emotional body you are connected to your intuition, your wisdom, and your heart. Emotional intelligence is a kind of literacy that you can learn; it will serve you well, so don't be afraid to get the support and resources you need to connect and work with your emotional body.

Many thanks to the women and men I've talked to who have raised or are raising boys, who are not afraid to be their full selves. It makes me cry every time one of my students writes to me to share how her son is saying things like, “I don't mind if you call me a girl, girls are powerful” (from a young boy with long hair who is called a girl by a stranger) or “Yes, I'd like the pink shirt, mom. I'm not insecure around my masculinity” (from a young man whose mom double checks his choice of shirts). The paradigm is shifting, boy by boy, man by man. Yes!

High five to everyone raising conscious boys, and to all the men reparenting themselves and healing their wounded inner child. We need you. We see you. We love you. Thank you.
​​​​​​​
​​​​​​​
Blessings,

P.S. If you are a woman who has a male-bodied or gender fluid partner, friend, or sibling, share your love and appreciation with them today.

Resources for boys or for raising boys:

https://www.fatherly.com/parenting/teach-young-kids-consent-respect-sex/

http://rolereboot.org/family/details/2018-01-teaching-boys-consent-needs-start-earlier-think/

https://goodmenproject.com/families/the-healthy-sex-talk-teaching-kids-consent-ages-1-21/

Guy Stuff: The Body Book for Boys by Cara Natterson

It's Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris

Resources for men:

Fire in the Belly by Sam Keen

The Superior Man by David Deida

The Mask of Masculinity by Lewis Howes

Hold Me Tight by Sue Johnson

The Hidden Spirituality of Men by Matthew Fox

King Warrior Magician Lover by Robert Moore

To Be A Man by Robert Augustus Masters

The Mankind Project: https://mankindproject.org/

The Good Men Project: https://goodmenproject.com/

Ask Men: https://www.askmen.com/

Lewis Howes' podcast: https://lewishowes.com/podcast

HeatherAsh Amara is the bestselling author of the Warrior Goddess Training books as well as the recently released Big Freedom: Discover the Four Elements of Transformation, and the coauthor with Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. of The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships. You can find out more about HeatherAsh’s powerful work here.

 

 

Ready to experience Big Freedom? Discover the four elements of transformation…



What is Big Freedom?

The word freedom can mean many things: the ability to say what we want, to go where we want, and to be with whom we want.  However, even with these important freedoms available, many of us still feel trapped by our own inner judgments, fears, and expectations. Instead of being our own best friend and biggest supporter, we often treat ourselves in ways we would never treat anyone else.

How can we live life as authentically and powerfully as possible? Is there a way to release the burdens of negative thinking, self-criticism, unhelpful fears, and crushing expectations? These are questions that Hierophant Publishing author HeatherAsh Amara has set out to answer, and for her, the four elements point the way.

The four primordial elements, air, fire, water, and earth, are with us every day of our lives. The wind that blows the trees, the water we drink, the solid earth we move over, and the fire that lives in the life-giving warmth of the sun, are the building blocks of the world.

No matter how far from nature we think we are, we are still only a heartbeat away from the elements. They exist in our very bodies – in our breath, and in our energy.  HeatherAsh views these elements as allies in our search for wholeness, authenticity, and meaning, and she believes that each has unique gifts that can help us along our path to experiencing Big Freedom in our daily lives.   

Air: The Art of Clear Perception

We all know that a closed room will become stale and stagnant, and that merely opening a window and inviting the fresh air in from outside can make the room feel fresh and alive again. In a similar way, the element of air is a symbol for the need to clear away judgmental and fear-based thinking that can accumulate when our minds are closed, when we have forgotten the immense power that resides in each one of us.

Fire: The Art of Cleansing

Fire is the element of action. Like the powerful cleansing flames of a natural forest fire, you can call on the spirit of fire to burn away what no longer serves you, making room for new growth. This kind of cleansing is a powerful tool that can be used over and over again, helping you to go deeper into a sense of newness and peace each time you call upon this primal element.

Water: The Art of Opening

A rushing river flows over rocks, under floating leaves, and through narrow sluice gates; the water can be stopped by accumulated debris or dams, but its true nature is to flow. So it is with our emotional bodies. Like the river, we may have created blocks to the natural flow of our emotional selves, and we will need to relearn how to clear away those blocks and remain open. Opening to our emotions means accepting all that comes to us in our lives, whether positive or negative. This is not a passive act, as it requires courage and trust. The element of water to help you find the place of freedom in yourself that allows what is to be. 

Earth: The Art of Nourishing

We are all children of the earth, and we are sustained inside and out by the miraculous nourishing power of the planet. The element of earth not only grounds and strengthens us, but it also teaches us the importance of nourishing ourselves. What actions in your life make you feel exhausted and worn down? What makes you feel refreshed, energetic, and alive? By calling upon the nourishing power of the earth, you can learn to support your physical body in ways that also feed your soul and bring peace to your heart.

Are you ready to find out more about how these powerful elements can change your life and lead you down the path to your own Big Freedom?

A Little Book on Big Freedom: Discover the Four Elements of Transformation by HeatherAsh Amara will be available April 9th, 2019 at all major retailers and on our website! To learn more about this powerful book, and to read the introduction and first chapter for free, click here.

Do You Have an Inner Bully? On Silencing Negative Self Talk...

 

Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies. Many of us speak to ourselves in hurtful ways, using words we wouldn’t dream of using with others. This relentless negative self-talk manifests itself in our daily lives, causing stress and harm to our inner selves, and ultimately to those around us.

How we communicate with others is, as we all know, incredibly important, but how we communicate with ourselves is equally critical to our wellbeing. By learning how to talk to ourselves with a mindful, compassionate voice, we can not only free ourselves from our harmful self-talk, but also expand our abilities to communicate on a more honest, mindful level with others.

The Practice of Listening

The first step in the process is becoming fully aware of our own inner bully through the art of mindful listening. Many of us have been living with our negative self-talk for so long that it can be difficult to even notice it right away. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully aware of the present moment with nonjudgmental attention, and this practice can help us cultivate personal awareness. Applying this practice to moments when you are feeling sad, angry, guilty, ashamed, etc. allows you to be a gentle witness to your inner dialogue. It’s in these times of suffering that we turn on ourselves, and by paying mindful attention to our inner voice during these difficult moments, we begin to see repeating phrases and patterns in the way we talk to ourselves and can then begin the work of naming and changing these inner habits.

The Practice of Exploration

After we’ve begun the process of mindfully naming our negative self-talk, we are ready to dive into the practice of exploring the root causes of the hurtful things we say to ourselves. Exposing these underlying issues can help us alleviate a lot of suffering in our lives. Explorers set out to discover and reveal; what are the beliefs or ideas you may be holding onto that are at the heart of your negative self-talk? What past experiences or societal influences may be behind your self-judgment?

The Practice of Questioning

The next step works in concert with the practice of exploration. Once we have identified our underlying beliefs and ideas that are causing us to lash out at ourselves, we can apply specific questions whenever our inner bully begins to tear us down. These questions are designed to help us pinpoint the stories we tell ourselves as a result of our inner judgment and focus instead on what is actually true. Asking good questions is a key part of communicating with others, and it can be a key part of communicating with ourselves as well. Some of the questions we might ask ourselves would be, “what judgment am I making,” “what story am I telling myself as a result of this judgment,” and “what do I know to be true?”

The Practice of Releasing

There is a lot of hard work in these first three practices, and now we are ready to let go of the destructive beliefs and stories that have given rise to our negative self-talk. By setting down the burden of negative self-talk and replacing it with truthful and compassionate self-talk instead, we can begin the work of being friends with ourselves rather than enemies. Now is the time to ask ourselves if we are clinging to our negative self-talk because it’s become a familiar and comfortable habit. We may also have created an identity for ourselves around our beliefs and stories, and it may be difficult to let go of that identity and see ourselves from a new perspective. This is where the power of forgiveness and compassion can help us mend our relationship with ourselves and open our hearts to new ways of being.

The Practice of Balance

Finally, we are ready to adopt new habits and new ways of communicating with ourselves that are more in tune with the self-compassionate person we aspire to be. Some of these habits might include replacing judgmental language with simple observational language, or inserting positive phrases into our inner dialogue every morning. Practicing this balance doesn’t mean replacing chronic negativity with positive affirmations that aren’t true for us, but it can involve looking for positivity and optimism in our daily lives in order to give our inner dialogue some sense of equilibrium.

Ready to learn more about these five mindful practices and silence your judgmental inner voice for good? Cynthia Kane’s book Talk to Yourself Like a Buddhist is available now from all major retailers as well as from our website here.

What are the Secrets to Healthy and Happy Relationships? Find out below...


 

The seven secrets to healthy, happy relationships—commitment, freedom, awareness, healing, joy, communication, and release—can help you at any stage in your intimate partnering, whether you’ve been with someone for many years or are currently single and want to prepare for a partnership. While much of what we have to say will focus on romantic relationships, the truth is that these seven principles can help you create deeper and more meaningful connections in all of your relationships.

The first three secrets— commitment, freedom, and awareness̶̶̶̶—are what we call the foundational secrets.  In our view, these are the bedrock upon which all healthy relationships are built. As you read them, you may notice some areas in your thinking and actions around relationships that need improvement. The good news is that these first three secrets can show you how to repair  faulty foundations, and replace old ideas and beliefs with new and stronger beams of support going forward.

Commitment- This foundational secret is not what most people think. Making a commitment to yourself rather than anyone else is the first step in creating a healthy and happy relationship. Instead of trying to change or mold yourself into who you think others want you to be, commit to finding out who you really are and what you really want. From this place of self knowledge and self love, you can then fully commit to another. The key is in releasing the areas in which you judge yourself or play the victim, and taking full responsibility for your own happiness.

Freedom- As you commit to loving and accepting yourself for who you really are, your next step is to extend this same freedom to your partner, supporting them to be true to themselves. This includes giving up any of the subtle or not so subtle ways you may try and manipulate them into behaving as you think they should. This doesn't mean you won't set boundaries of what you will and will not accept in a relationship, but in allowing your partner the freedom to be their true self, you will instead reveal the deep truth that intimacy thrives when couples feel free to be who they really are.

Awareness- Until you become aware of what is going on inside you, including things like your unconscious beliefs, subterranean fears, and old emotional wounds, they will continue to pop up and create problems in your relationships, making it very difficult to form a deep partnership with another. The good news is that the very act of becoming aware of them lessens their hold on you. Awareness also helps you expand your conscious understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, and your relationship deal breakers. This self-knowledge is crucial in building a strong foundation to your partnership.

The next three secrets— healing, joy, and communication—are the transformative secrets. When you bring the teachings and tools we provide in these chapters into your interactions with others, you can prepare for a future partnership, improve and enhance an existing union, or rebuild the framework of even the most damaged structures, transforming them into a clean, spacious, and sturdy way of being.

Healing-   By the time we reach adulthood, virtually all humans have experienced some type of profound loss, traumatic experience, or deep emotional wound. If we push these experiences deep inside us rather than heal from them, that trapped pain will fester and eventually erupt in the form of an emotional or even physical outburst, often at the expense of our unsuspecting partners. Healing from these past experiences, as well as any unhelpful beliefs they have created, is the first secret to transforming your relationship with others and yourself.

Joy- We’d all like to experience joy in our lives, and this is especially true for our relationships. In fact, the pursuit of joy is often what prompts us to seek a relationship in the first place. This chapter discusses concrete ways to cultivate joy in your romantic relationships, such as creativity, play, and sexual pleasure. Creating joy is often the key to transforming relationships that have grown stagnant, and the regular practice of it will help your relationship feel fresh, new, and vibrant.

Communication- While communication is one of the most useful human gifts, it’s surprising how many of us struggle to communicate in healthy and productive ways when it comes to our intimate relationships. Sure, most of us do well when it comes to things we agree about or that we share in common— but the greater challenge is to converse with each other in the midst of issues or topics that challenge or divide us. Learning how to speak our truth, even when our partners don't like what we have to say, is often the most difficult. The tools in this chapter will help you do exactly that.

The seventh and final secret— release—provides guidance on nourishing your relationship on an ongoing basis. This last secret is where you learn the skills to perform the necessary and sustaining maintenance that will keep the construction of your relationship solid, even in the midst of changing and challenging times.

Release- This secret can seem paradoxical in nature, because it often involves not doing rather than doing.  Our relationships offer us hundreds of little ways to release what we often want to hold on to, such as the need to be right, the need to have the last word, and most importantly, the need for things to stay the same. The truth is that change is a constant in life. Sometimes these changes are trivial, sometimes they are momentous; but couples in happy and healthy relationships embrace the constant of change rather than fight it, while simultaneously honoring the part of each other that stays the same. Release is the key to balance between loving the static and the loving the change.

Ready to dive in and learn more? The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships is available now from all major retailers as well as from our website here. AND, if you order a special multi-book package from our website, you can order The Seven Secrets to Healthy, Happy Relationships for just $10 (including free shipping the US)!

Or click here to read the first two chapters and learn more about the foundational secrets, Commitment and Freedom!