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Relationship Alive!

Neil Sattin interviews John Gottman, Sue Johnson, Harville Hendrix, Peter Levine, Stan Tatkin, Dick Schwartz, Katherine Woodward Thomas, Diana Richardson, Terry Real, Wendy Maltz - and many others - in his quest to dig deep into all the factors that keep a Relationship Alive and Thriving! Each week Neil brings you an in-depth interview with a relationship expert. Neil is an author and relationship coach who is enthusiastic and passionate about relationships and the nuts and bolts of what makes them last. You can find out more about Neil Sattin and the Relationship Alive podcast at http://www.neilsattin.com
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Now displaying: March, 2017
Mar 28, 2017

If you want to take your relationship to the next level, then you have no choice but to connect at a higher level. And I mean a MUCH higher level. How do you bring your connection to the divine, something greater than you, into your relationship? And how do you and your partner take that energy and use it to co-create something amazing in the world? Something that feeds your passion for each other - as well as for life itself? Today we’re going to tackle those questions, and more, with one of the world’s most respected spiritual teachers, Andrew Harvey. His new book, Evolutionary Love Relationships: Passion, Authenticity, and Activism, is just out - and it is a passionate vision of what’s possible in relationship. In this conversation we focus on how to make the divine not only accessible - but also a way of reinforcing the fabric and vitality of your connection to yourself and your beloved.

Becoming your Being: Becoming aware of ourselves as divine beings opens doors into new realms of possibility in all of our relationships. While this is a lifelong journey, we can continually attend to the following three phases:

1) Tune into your own true identity and the divine consciousness that you embody. Find the ways you come back to Self. What are your rituals? Your sacred spaces? Your mirrors?

2) As you experience a deepening into yourself, begin to expand this outward. Extend this sense of deep respect towards the cats, dogs, people, strangers, objects, etc. in your life.

3) Choose to dedicate yourself to something that needs your voice and your compassion. Engage in a cause and a community larger than yourself from a place of authentic desire. Speak up, fight for, and join with, those people and places that if you did not, your heart would break.

Mystical Adventure: What would it be like to welcome this journey into tuning into YOU and of finding who you really are as a mystical adventure? What becomes possible when you begin to see yourself as a unique drop of light in the great ocean of divine consciousness? Perhaps this question begins to help you connect and celebrate your sacred YOUness and find your way towards a life of action that allows for you to show up in your most authentic and alive form.

Simple holy practices: Journeying into sacredness is as profound as it is simple. Simple practices incorporated into daily life can be incredibly powerful. For example, what happens when you invoke the word of God (in whichever form fits for you) into your mind/heart throughout the day? Try saying God’s name or a mantra of your choosing while walking, while brushing your teeth, sitting in traffic, etc. Is it possible that this becomes a secret door into a deeper sense of presence or a shorthand path that becomes a direct link to your connection with an awareness of all that is greater than? Another practice that can become a portal into closer relationship with the divine is through the simple act of sitting in silence. Try sitting in silence for 10 minutes on either end of your day and see what arises, opens, becomes, expands, and/or releases.

Facing the shadow sides: This journey into authenticity is inevitably humbling, and not without pain. The more, however, that you connect with your transcendent self (your pure radiant and aware self) the more security, peace, and humor you will develop, thus giving you the needed qualities to address and face the shadow sides that emerge through this awakening. This is a reinforcing cycle allowing for deeper and deeper learning, with more and more grace. Trust in the process, especially on days you’d rather hide from the shadows, or in the shadows.

Love changes everything. Similar to the way that coming into contact with our shadow sides allows us to discover lightness, love is filled with paradoxes. Instead of getting stuck in tensions between opposing forces, try to jump right in and dance with the dynamics. What is it like to be between dark and light, peace and tumult, safety and wild, play and seriousness, and breakdowns and breakthroughs?

Breakdowns becoming breakthroughs: One of the most damaging myths in relationships is that healthy couples do not have tension. Momentary experiences of tension, however, offer opportunities for incredible growth and connection. With intention, awareness, and loads of love, breakdowns can become breakthroughs. Celebrate breakdowns as they herald growth! Love takes us to the edge of ourselves, and if our partner can love us, reach out to us, and be there for us, then we can make amazing leaps into vulnerability and from there, into authenticity. In this way our moments of chaos and mess become our moments of Aha! Oh! And Wow!

Rituals of Celebration: Celebrations are key to fostering joy and sustaining passion in relationships. Everything can, and in many ways should be, celebrated. Can you celebrate your mealtimes with space for silence or a blessing? Can you celebrate the chores of the day? Find sacredness by appreciating the ordinary details of life. Be especially intentional about honoring the intentions of all your partner is doing, rather than just celebrating the results. Surprise and delight your partner by finding unpredictable things to celebrate and cherish, and unpredictable ways to do so! In how many ways can you celebrate the fact that this other showed up in your life and that the two of you found each other and continue to choose each other? Rituals of celebration help to fortify the relationship so that when the inevitable struggles occur, there is a deep well of love and appreciation to draw from.

“Celebrate the wonder of being with another human being who is willing despite your faults and your  craziness and your comic complications to say to you, not only do I love you, but I want to go on a journey to the divine with you, to become a being who can radiate the fierce and tender loves of God in justice and compassion for the world.” (Andrew Harvey)

Surrender to authenticity: Loving your partner means loving all of your partner. In order to have a truly sacred relationship you have to be willing and able to give up control and expectation of who you wish your partner would be, could be, or should be. You have to be in a stage of reverence for their authentic beingness, and love with generous tenderness and compassion all that they are. Allow this letting go to be a continual process- a practice to attend to again, and again, and again.

3 practices to connect to the divine in each other:

  1. Gazing: Practice sitting cross legged across from each other and gazing into each other’s eyes with holding hands. Remember that gazing is different than staring, or looking. It requires a softening of the eye muscles, a relaxation of the face, and a sense of attuning to, rather than tracking, your partner.
  2. Imagining the Divine Mother: While sitting face to face, can you begin to imagine the divine mother (or whichever sacred image speaks to you) pouring golden light down your and your partner’s bodies. Imagine this glowing golden light warming and enveloping each cell as it passes from the crown of the head, down the spine, and into the feet- filling every nook and crannie. What is it like to see your partner all aglow while you yourself are being filled with the same light.
  3. Tonglen: Can you take this a step further by sitting across from each other and imagining each other’s shadow selves as a ball of black smoke? Invite this ball into your own heart- welcoming it, and bathing it in the deepest compassionate energy you can muster. Give their pain and sorrow a home, and a place in which it can be held and allowed to dissolve. This is a deep healing practice, almost like offering each other divine surgery.

 

 

**Note: ALL of these practices can be done by yourself in front of a mirror- and is an incredibly powerful practice for anyone- single or not.

Sacred aloneness:  Do not wait for a relationship in order to start practicing divine connection. Use this time of aloneness to 1)  get in touch with the beloved and 2) allow yourself to dream of another level of love that is possible. Make your aloneness holy through rituals and celebrations. Take time to daydream of what kind of love you would want, and then see if you can ask for even more. Use the silence that aloneness offers to get clear on what it is you truly want and then send it out as a prayer.

Do you feel alone in your partnership? Are you feeling like you are alone in the way you are showing up for the questions? Feel like you are the only one who is truly looking at the shadow sides and doing the work? Instead of moving into resentment, try to choose even more compassion. See your partner as already divine and treat them with deep sacred tenderness without asking for anything in return. Stop expecting and requiring that they change. Love them just as they are for in the end, the only changes people will make is when they experience being tremendously and unconditionally loved for who they are. Continue to do the practices, and surrendering to who your partner is in this moment- pour yourself into them with all the reverence you have and watch as the sea change occurs. For it will. And if it doesn’t, then perhaps you will have the clarity you have been searching for to make necessary choices to stay, or leave.

Invite and invoke your sexual connection to become a divine experience. Can you envision a sexuality that is beyond just creating pleasure for each other? What is needed to bring more revelation and reverence into the bedroom? Through grace and deep work with yourself and your partner you can begin to discover new levels of intimacy that open doors to shared enlightenment. Of course, this may be a new way of coming together, and will likely require a lot of unlearning. Be willing to look at all the ways you have assumed roles, chosen stagnancy, or limited yourself through body shaming. As you expand into seeing yourself and your partner as whole divine beings you will discover more limitations, restrictions, and vulnerabilities - welcome these uncoverings as very good news. The more you discover the more you can release yourself from old implicit patterns, freeing you to open to secret doorways into the divine experience of sex, sensuality, and connection.

Invite the divine forth: Sexual experience is one of the most direct initiations into divine bliss energy. Through practices and presence you can begin to invite the divine into the bedroom- opening the door, and waiting expectantly for what may happen next! Be open to an overwhelming sense of bliss- a blessed bliss that WILL leave you, and your relationship, transformed!

Resources:

Read Evolutionary Love Relationships

Check out Andrew Harvey’s website for the institute for Sacred Activism here

www.neilsattin.com/evolve Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Andrew Harvey

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Mar 22, 2017

Are you making choices based on fear? Or are you making empowered choices, based on who you truly are? When you come from a place of fear you usually don't get to experience the choice as your own. It feels like there is "no other choice." 

The funny thing is - you could make the exact SAME choice - but from an empowered place of deciding based on what serves the highest good - and have a completely different experience. One in which you feel your aliveness, your potency. Same choice, different result. All based on where the choice comes from.

In this episode, I describe a possible path through the fear, to the other side. And you'll learn a little bit more about me, and my relationship with Chloe, and how I came to be where I am today, in the process. My goal is for you to experience being "OK" - no matter what - so that you can feel the power of your choice, your agency, and enjoy the results, whatever they are.

Also - a little reminder - if you haven't picked up my Relationship Communication guide yet - what are you waiting for? Visit neilsattin.com/relate, or text the word "RELATE" to the number 33444 to receive your free guide to improving communication in your relationship.

See you next week, with Andrew Harvey!

Mar 15, 2017

How do you have better, more passionate, more connected sex with your partner? If you’re looking for information about how to deepen your sensual connection so that things actually improve over time - then you’ve come to the right place! Today’s episode features Sue Johnson, creator of Emotionally-Focused Therapy (EFT), and author of several best-selling books on how to do relationships well, including Hold Me Tight. Sue’s work masterfully blends attachment theory with how to thrive in partnership - and she’s here today to talk about how knowing your partner more deeply, and building safety, can create deep passion in the bedroom.

(You also may recall Sue Johnson’s first visit to the Relationship Alive podcast in Episode 27 - Breaking Free from Your Patterns of Conflict.)

The theory and science of relationships has not really looked at sexuality. Newer research is finally beginning to look at sex in the context of relationships. Of course sex can be recreational, but the vast majority of people are experiencing sexuality in the context of long term relationship - and thus this context should be included in our studies. It is as if we are only now beginning to see the whole picture and are able to create a map to help us understand how sexuality impacts, and is impacted by our knowledge about love and attachment bonding.

Sex is a conversation by other means. Think of sex as a conversation. If asked who you would have a better conversation with: 1) someone you feel safe and connected or 2) a stranger, most people would say option 1. This is true in sex as well. We have gotten caught up in a false idea that “the known” is less fulfilling, but this simply is not substantiated.

Myth: Familiarity is going to kill desire.  In terms of sexuality we have become caught up in this idea that familiarity is going to kill desire and that feeling safe and connected is a disadvantage - but this is a cliche and there is no supportive research. Johnson explains that in fact, “what we know... is that the people who report have the best and most frequent sex, and find it the most thrilling, are people in long term relationships.” Research is showing more and more that the comfort and connection that happens in secure bonding adds to sense of eroticism.

There is a distinction between a sense of familiarity where people are just tired of each other and not really connecting, versus what happens when you are actually safe and fully alive and present and connected with each other. Understanding this difference is critical to relationships! We know that the most basic element in secure emotional bonding is emotional responsiveness. When a secure bond is present there is emotional openness, accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement. Intimacy develops because people who have secure attachment are able to find and create deeper moments of connection.

ARE- Accessibility + Responsiveness + Engagement. The million dollar question in relationships is “Are you there for me?”. ARE is the answer to this question. Having a connection with your partner in which you are both showing signs of ARE results in a stronger bond, and better sex.

Novelty: What is novelty? Novelty occurs when there is a sense of longing, erotic play, spontaneity, and attunement in a relationship. The ability to play arises when connection is met with a sense of attunement. If you are really engaged with somebody and open to being spontaneous with them, you will find that every time you interact together there is a level of novelty! This is true because ultimate intimacy is unattainable - the closer you get to somebody the more you know that you can never know them and this tease becomes a spark for passion and eroticism!

Nature has found a way to shut-down habituation. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone, floods us with a sense of connection and belonging and shuts down habituation centers of brain. Habituation occurs when people are not engaged with each other, and/or are taking each other for granted. Habituation is what kills eroticism, not familiarity.

People who tend towards avoidantly attached patterns often have an external view of novelty - believing that sex will be boring unless there is a constant introduction of new toys, positions, behaviors, etc. Sex that relies on sensation and performance, however, leads to needing more and more to achieve sexual arousal. This becomes a negative cycle in which the other partner feels used, and disconnected.

Safety and thrill: In order to understand the importance of safety to the sensation of spontaneity and thrill, imagine yourself on a zipline. Likely, you would only be able to fully enjoy yourself if you trusted you were securely attached and that all safety measures were in place. In the same way, if you have a secure bond - safety can be a safe adventure, and play and spontaneity are possible! That said, if you want to turn your partner on, the very best thing you can do is to spend a few minutes talking to your partner, and helping each other feel connected. Remember: safety in your bonding is a prelude to great sex.

Falling in love again and again and again. The more we understand how sex and bonding are related, the more capability we have to reconnect with our partners and reignite a sense of passion. Knowing how to do this means that passion might not have an expiration date!

What to do when things feel dull? The irony is that despite sexuality being ubiquitously displayed in the media and in the public, it is often missing in our intimate conversations. The best thing you can do to move out of habituation and boredom is to openly speak about sex with your partner. Talk about what really turns you on: what you like and what you don’t like. Expand the conversation to include not only what turns you on in the bedroom, but what turns you on in everyday life as well!

The secret is in the connection and flow between us. Look at the big picture: What is happening in the bedroom is more than likely an extension of the rest of your relationship - how much sensual connection do you experience throughout the day? Look at everything in context - how do you dance together? Imagine yourself dancing without music - it just doesn’t have that passionate flow we all enjoy so much. Attunement and connection is the music that fires up our sexual interactions and makes our passionate encounters multi-dimensional.

Jealousy: Jealousy is the result of a deep sense of threat. It occurs when we become worried that our partner is giving their attention and interested in someone else that makes them turn away from us. One of the reasons that affairs are so threatening is that it threatens the bond that is core to who we are in relationship. The search and craving for emotional connection is one of the most powerful instincts in our species, and therefore, any threat to this bond is registered and felt as dangerous and potentially life-threatening. There is truth and science to this in the sense that emotional isolation is a risk factor for every illness and disease that we know of.

Bowlby’s 3 needs in adult relationships: John Bowlby explains that the three core needs in adult relationships are 1) bonding and attachment, 2) sexuality, and 3) caretaking. The attachment is the most basic core level and it defines the other two. It is primary in the sense that while you can live without an orgasm, you cannot live well without emotional connection and affection. We have too narrowly defined sex as performance and sensation - leading us to a disconnected sense of lovemaking that leaves us unfulfilled.

Unfulfilled? Unsatisfied? Stuck? Wondering how to break free from a flat or unhealthy pattern of sexuality that you may have become habituated to? Invite in the findings from new bonding science that correlates emotional connection with fulfilling sex lives. Be willing to look at the whole picture - placing your lovemaking within the context of your relationship.

Remember to re-establish safety with your partner before jumping into the details about your sex life. This may, for some of you, require involving a therapist- and if so, do! For others this may mean becoming clear that the intention of the conversations you are seeking are about connection and understand, versus shaming, blaming, or judging.

Once you have re-established a safe container for this conversation, begin to notice, together, your unique sexual dance. Ask yourselves and each other what patterns are present. What steps are taken to initiate sex? Who does what, and when? Use action verbs! What emotional music is playing (or not playing) in the background of your sensual lives together? With safety you can be free to become curious and vulnerable and to begin to look openly, engage, and share on a deep and intimate level about your sexuality. You can begin to explore what great sex is for each of you. You can share your fantasies! You can play and be spontaneous! You can discover and relearn what excites you! Be open to being surprised by yourself, and each other! A great lasting relationship and a great erotic life together awaits.

Resources:

Read Sue Johnson’s book Love Sense and Hold Me Tight

Check out Sue Johnson’s website for videos, resources, and upcoming events

Sue Johnson’s talk at the Psychotherapy Networker on Attachment and Sex

www.neilsattin.com/sue2 Visit to download the show guide, or text “PASSION” to 33444 and follow the instructions to download the show guide to this episode with Sue Johnson

Our Relationship Alive Community on Facebook

Amazing intro/outro music graciously provided courtesy of:

The Railsplitters - Check them Out

Mar 8, 2017

What is the impact of distraction on your relationship? Or, for that matter, on your life? And - what can you do about it? There's only one way to know - and that's what we're talking about on today's episode of Relationship Alive!

Also, don't forget to check out my free guide on the Top 3 Relationship Communication secrets. To get it you can visit neilsattin.com/relate or text the word "RELATE" to the number 33444 and follow the instructions. These simple actions can completely change how you experience your partner (and how they experience you) - bringing you closer whether you're talking about the easy things, or the challenging things.

Meanwhile, I hope you also took a moment to listen to last week's episode with Keith Witt - and stay tuned for next week's episode, featuring a conversation with Sue Johnson about Attachment Theory and creating a vibrant sex life. Now I'll stop distracting you, and let you focus on this week's episode! :-)

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