Before the Yoga Journal Conference in Colorado last weekend, I signed up for all of my classes in advance. I had planned to take a Jivamukti yoga class on one of the days, but was going back and forth between that class and a class called “Relationship Revelations.” Since I go to Jivamukti all the time in NYC, my friend suggested I switch it up. I also had a feeling that a talk on relationships might be good blog material. ;) Anyway, for a few reasons, my intuition led me into the relationship lecture.
Eric Paskel, founder of Yoga Shelter (with locations in Los Angeles and Michigan) had a lot to say about relationships. So much, in fact, that I have about 5 pages of notes from his talk, I asked questions during the talk, and then spent some time afterwards picking his brain even more.
Eric opened up his talk with this: “Life is experience. If you improve your experience, you improve your life. So how do you improve your experience?”
When it comes to relationships, Eric has 4 “relationship rules” that he says contribute to a better, healthier, more satisfying experience. I’ll recap them here. I would love to hear what you think!
Relationship Rule #1: Attachment will ruin every relationship.
You can’t put pressure on someone to be with you or “fix you.” If you’re giving to someone else because you’re expecting something in return, it’s selfish and you’ll be exhausted. Attachment is loving yourself, not the other person. If whatever someone else is doing is affecting you, if the feeling you feel for someone is based on what they feel for you back – this is attachment. We want and expect others to cater to our demands, and if they stop, the relationship is done. Drop the possessiveness. When your happiness is outsourced, that’s a form of slavery/bondage. Freedom is when your happiness is not reliant upon any external factors. Make the change from unilateral attachment to universal love. Giving to someone should infuse you with energy, fire you up, be unconditional and unselfish.
Relationship Rule #2: You must make a proper assessment of everyone you’re involved with.
When you get into a relationship, you must make an assessment of yourself and the other person — an understanding of the person’s nature. When you choose a person, you are choosing to get into a relationship with their true nature. Your obligation is to properly assess that. You can’t expect others to do what you think is right for them. This is the height of selfishness. Improper assessments lead to unreasonable expectations, disappointment and frustration. Assessment is a fundamental requirement for peace in a relationship. Ask yourself, “What am I really out for in this relationship? Who is this person?”
He gave the example that if you try to feed a cobra, it’ll probably bite you – because that’s the nature of the cobra. You can’t complain and try to change who the cobra is just because you wish the cobra would be a deer. You may want go feed a deer instead.
You can’t complain about it being hot in the valley in LA or cold in the winter in Michigan. That’s just the nature of those places. Get it? Same with people. When you get into a relationship, you choose to be with the person and their true nature. If you can’t handle it, go away.
Relationship Rule #3: Every relationship must be based on duty, not rights.
What is your duty as a mother, daughter, husband, boyfriend, sister, wife, etc? All you need to worry about is being the best boyfriend (etc) you can be. Let your conscience guide your way. Your job is to put the love out there and not expect anything back. If you’re doing the right thing for yourself, it doesn’t matter what the other person is doing. You can’t rely on future acquisitions for your current happiness. Work on yourself. Clean up your side of the street. Don’t be a slave to your own self-induced accounting system.
Relationship Rule #4: Regulation and moderation of contact.
If we have too much contact with the person, the relationship loses its luster and we eventually become neutralized. Give the person space, take space, don’t spend every second together. Even if you live together, it’s important to take your own time, to be your own person and to let the other person have time to themselves. When you do see each other again, it will feel more exciting and passionate. With anything in life, when we have too much of it, we can start to become desensitized, uninterested. That’s what we don’t want to happen to our relationships. Give it some healthy space.
What do you think about these relationship rules? Do you already apply any of these to your own relationships? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Learn more about Eric and Yoga Shelter: