It’s all about Relating
Darbella and I were having a conversation about relationships with friends yesterday, and I was intrigued as we talked, as much of what is in this article got covered as we talked.
Lower Dan Tien, a.k.a. the Second Chakra
This morning, an image popped into my head, of the Lower Dan Tien—the spot 2 inches below the navel, which is also the 2nd Chakra. I thought, “This spot is so central, so “core” to us, and this region is so ignored.”
I thought about the three aspects that are important about this region, and that led me to sub-divide the 2nd Chakra article—into three interrelated topics: 1) Relating, 2) Passion for Life, 3) Sexual Passion (and sacred sexuality.)
Here’s how this “looks”: The entire region (the lower belly around to the lower back) is broadly defined as the “Relationships Region,” and that’s where we’ll begin.
Today’s article will look at relating. I want to spend some time persuading you that relating is “all about totally owning your perspective on things.” In other words, we’ll explore your relationship with how you relate.
The region also has a distinct front / back component. The front pelvis and lower belly is about sexuality and sexual passion /energy, and the lower back, from the waist down, is about passion for life. This front / back pair will be covered separately in the next two articles. The same rule applies—we’ll look at how you relate to your sexuality and how you relate to your passion for life.
Relating With Others—The Dance of Relating
Developmentally, the first thing a baby “does” is ground herself—we covered this last article. In the context of human development, the first “eye opener” is realizing you are on the outside of mom, and that now, you need externals (food, shelter, diapers…) to survive.
Once this realization of “baseline existence” is internalized, relationship-building begins. This starts a few months after birth, because initially, babies are quasi-autistic and still enmeshed with mom.
Building relationship means that the infant begins the project of “me / not me,” which is the basis of survival, differentiation, and starting the next step (the function of the third chakra,): the development of a self / ego.
Initially, Relating = Socialization
Notice the above description. As the infant begins the differentiation (me / not me) process, she discovers the expectations of others. (Remember, it took her a couple of months to realize that there actually are others.)
in order to get what I want, I have to do what the “big people” want me to do. Thus, relationship seems to be about “behaving” and being rewarded.
For example, “Susie” may cry. In rushes mommy with a breast or bottle. If Susie fusses while feeding, mommy may become cross, take the food away, or emotionally “cut off” her child, so Susie learns to be “happy-acting”—her needs are more easily met if she does what mommy wants.
Now, remember, we endlessly say that infants and children have nothing to compare their learnings to. So Susie is not sucking away and thinking, “Boy, is my mommy neurotic. Look at what a girl has to do to get her tummy filled!” No, she’s learning to “relate” by looking outside to see how “mommy” is, modifying her behaviour to make mommy happy, and learning that the only way to get fully fed is to manipulate others and the situation.
We call this inner/outer confusion.
Sadly, most adults will read the above and think that’s how one relates. You ask, demand, cajole others into giving you what you want.
And, you toss in the “Kreskin” (mind reading) part. “Mommy” was pretty good at meeting your unspoken needs (you squawked a bit and a bottle or boob appeared… like magic), so you may still think that if someone loves you, they “ought to” be able to read your mind. Or, that you “ought to” be able to state your need or desire one time, and get your way from that point on.
I think about or want something, and I expect the external world to provide it. I’m not happy, and you should change things or yourself, so I can be happy.
Or, “Can’t you see how hard I am trying to make you happy, so that you’ll “feed me” what I want?”
Dysfunctional relationships are caused by clinging to infantile ways of relating. Every time I see a couple playing this “externals caused what I feel / externals should be different” game, I see three-year-olds fighting in a sandbox.
Stability comes from authentic relating
What I want you to understand is that the stability we are talking about could also be described as acceptance. Simply put: I accept that the way I am, is the way I am, right now. If I want a different experience, I accept the responsibility for creating it…through the way I choose to relate with others.
Vibrant Relating comes from Self-acceptance and Self responsibility
From a Buddhist perspective, the unsatisfactoriness of life is due to clinging—and what we cling to is an attitude, belief or object. We want more, more, more of what we like, and less, less, less of what we don’t.
the way we want them to be.
I’m working on a new book by Mark Epstein, called “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart.” Let me toss out a quote.
“But once we start to appreciate how it is the holding on to pleasure and the pushing away of pain that is the problem (not pleasure and pain themselves), we start to see how it is possible to practice in the midst of our daily lives.” Page 141
And let’s face it, the attraction / repulsion we feel for our passion, for people we want intimacy with, and for our sexuality is perfectly described in this quote. Instead of acceptance, we engage in an endless dance of grasping onto and pushing away.
Relating is an action
Removes Static Things
So, how do we get into trouble?
We get into trouble by confusing how we relate (an action) with having a “relationship” (a static thing.)
Example: Mark and Sally come in for therapy and to want to talk about “the relationship.”
I look at them and put a quizzical look on my face. I say, “Relationship? I don’t see a relationship. I do see Mark and Sally engaging, or relating with each other. We can’t talk about your relationship as if it’s separate from how each of you relates to the other.”
Thus, the relationship chakra is about how you enact your life, as you relate to what is around you.
What is your behavior, how do you relate, to your nearest and dearest?
The useful approach is to let go of clinging to labels, having judgements, and demanding that others change so that you can be happy. You own your experience, your feelings, and your actions. You see each thought and action as it is—a moment and a behavior in the here and now.
Here are some ways to enact this as you relate:
Next week, the second article in the second chakra set!