Friday, September 26, 2008

Relationships - Check-In Exercise

Arthur Gillard posted this exercise in the Robert Masters Pod (at Gaiam) that he and his partner have been doing of late - it's taken from the new book Integral Life Practice, by Ken Wilber, Terry Patton, Adam Leonard, & Marco Morelli.

This exchange sounds like a pattern I was in with some of my previous relationships.
Every Sunday evening Tessa and Luke sit down together for their weekly check-in practice. By turns, they speak their truth of the moment. The sharing could cover everything from mundane highlights of the past week to interpersonal issues toemotional dynamics to questions about meaning, direction, and purpose. Even after four years of marriage, it's a mystery what will come out when they begin speaking.

While one person shares with full honestly and authenticity, the other's job is to listen with an open heart and mind. Well, at least that's the intention behind the practice. It doesn't always happen that way.

A pattern began to develop when Tessa would confront Luke about something and Luke would immediately become defensive and shoot back an elaborate and logical argument justifying why he acted as he did. When Tessa finally became aware of this dynamic, she mirrored Luke's defensiveness so he could clearly see it in himself. When he finally saw it and reflected on it, he recognized how this same defensivenessshowed up in other areas of his life.

The next day, Luke created the affirmation, “I am open and vulnerable when confronted by someone I trust,” and began to speak and affirm it every day.

In their next check in, Tessa communicated how hurt she felt when Luke broke a promise he hadmade to her. Luke opened his mouth in defense, then stopped abruptly. Beacons flashed and his affirmation, “I am open and vulnerable when confronted by someone I trust,” streaked across his mind. Luke caught himself and chose to practice rather than react in his normal way. Dropping into his full being, he was able to take Tessa's perspective and empathically feel her hurt before evenuttering a word. When Luke finally responded, he spoke from a different place. From there, the conversation flowed into a space of mutual recognition, understanding, and love (p. 308, Integral Life Practice).
This is something all of us can do to help our relationships be deeper and stronger. It takes very little effort, only an effort to be present and open with the person you love.

Part of being in the mature masculine is owning our responsibility to our relationships.

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