Relationships via Interior Design
How to Create a Conducive Atmosphere for Intelligent Introspection
One of the most celebrated parts of an intimate relationship is when someone successfully sets the mood, and can sustain it. It is an talent vastly admired, sought-after, and greatly desired; particularly by the masculine. When a lover can seamlessly build the mood for two beings to synergetically unite, it is something like the ultimate high in a romantic relationship. How can we cultivate this skill? Many boys in their search for manhood ask themselves how can they get good at setting the stage? What tips and tricks should we be courting on our path to a deep experience of interconnectedness?
An educated starting point would be figuring out that awareness is a requirement in acquiring the casanova skillset. Simply put, we need to become aware and conscious of exactly what it is that we are trying to achieve. If we don’t know what we are trying to acquire, then we are wasting our time in hopes and dreams. After knowing the ‘what’, we need to have a clear view on ‘why’ we are striving to achieve it; i.e. what motivation and intention do we have? Why?
Once we have truly observed, reflected, and come to know these two things, then the ‘how-to’ knowledge for obtaining them becomes much much clearer. For example: how to find, how to present oneself and meet, timing, how to attract, how to seduce, etc.
We ideally know what it is we want to see happen. We watch it in the movies, we hear personal accounts from those lucky ones whom have experienced it. In order to know exactly ‘what’ our partner - or other half we are attempting to court - needs, we need to be capable of putting ourselves in their shoes. It requests us to research what it is that makes them tick, and why.
I have been very fortunate to meet RJ Sadowski, also known as the Horse Whisperer. He is a master of cultivating a relationship, and teaches people how to “be”, how to co-exist, and how to achieve a communal objective beneficial to all parties involved. A great deal of the insight of how to cultivate a relationship that is written herein comes from my lessons from and exchanges with RJ. He frequently describes that in any relationship we have to understand the ‘other half’ in four fundamental ways:
1. Essential, Spiritual
Profoundly simple. Take a moment to ask yourself this: On what level do you first approach your relationships? Is it first from looking into their essential or spiritual nature? Or does the motivation begin with a focus on the physical aspect and any attraction therein? Throughout the course of the relationship are you being ‘mental’? ‘Emotional’? If there are issues in a relationship, then on which one, or more, of these four levels are we basing our mental, verbal, and bodily actions? Which level is acting up and asking for acknowledgement? These are big, essential questions.
RJ teaches that when you approach a sentient being, not just a horse, we frequently get caught up in the physical first. And the relationship starts from there. When problems arise, often enough we do not understand why and cannot solve the issue from its source. In order to have a true co-existence, the only way to sustain it is to first look at the other’s essential or spiritual nature. Then, progressively move on to see how their essential nature affects their mental state, and how that in turn influences their emotions. Only then should we move towards establishing a physical - or space oriented - relationship with that being. Otherwise you’ll just keep on being the person singing Baby Come Back.
Spiritual relationship is far more precious than physical.
Physical relationship divorced from spiritual is body without soul.
Great teachers say that the acquisition of higher knowledge comes from knowing how to ask the right questions. Mentors show us how to formulate them. We can come up with so many answers from clear reflection on the previous questions. Then, eventually, they lead to another question: how can I come to understand the underlying principles that govern how I approach relationships? How can I turn these principles into a part of my habitual behavior, so that I naturally become them?
Going back to the ‘what’, it is a sound idea to clarify the obvious. What is a relationship? Here is a definition from our ‘Guru Google’:
“the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.”
So the idea here, now, is that I want to establish a connection. I want to drawl interest to ensnare the intrigue and attention of my eye’s apple. Take a moment to look at that. What kind of connections are you creating? On what level? What type of spiritual, mental, emotion, and physical atmosphere is created when you are striving to achieve a connection? Is there just one, i.e. sole physical attraction, or is it multi-layered? And then that brings, yes, another question.
If something is multi-layered, does it have depth? What a redundant question! Of course it has depth. So what do you think makes a relationship last and keep its spark? Shallowness, or depth? That, in itself, could solve most common problems in building and maintaining relationships.
RJ further elaborates that a within a relationship there are two things:
Trust also touches upon issues of safety. If I trust someone, I feel safe and comfortable with them. Ideally, we want to have both of these in balanced proportions. Often enough, these two components are out of balance. If I am approaching a relationship - no matter what stage it may be in - with an objective already in mind, I should look at what that is doing to the other person, or people, involved. How is it essentially, mentally, emotionally, and physically effecting them?
We’ve see a crude example of a ‘man with an objective’ before. A neanderthal advances on a woman, “You. Me. Sexy-time. Now.” Many times we laugh at hearing such a statement, either because of its ridiculousness or because actually somewhere deep down we wish it was that easy and clearcut. It absolutely can be, and a growing populace is actually enforcing that mentality. That is choice. Freedom of choice, and every choice has a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual repercussion. Problems arise when we do not see this for ourselves, or do not take responsibility for our actions. No judgements, simple facts.
Through stepping back and looking at any style of interaction, we can separate, quantify, and qualify what sort of respect, trust, and connection is taking place in the exchange. In stepping back we can create the opportunity to see ‘how’ we communicate with one another. Then we can discern if that exchange is serving the relationship, or taking away from it.
Often enough, there is a hidden voice of, “Me! I want this and I am going to ‘do’ this to you.” There is an imposition, a ‘doing to’, an objective. With this cloud in the forefront, there is no space to simply “be” with someone. In order to observe and learn someone’s behavior, we have to know how to “be” with them. RJ showed this to me through the vehicle of live horses, which are herd animals. Doing something, anything, to one horse thus automatically effects the whole herd. It is where I got to see how my relationships effect those around me, and vice versa. We have to learn how to put our own stuff aside, separate out our own incentives and the enforcing of our demands - both overt and even deep down within our psyche - so that these things severely step back from influencing our interactions. That is how I was taught to “be” with someone.
How many stereotypes and cases are there in men imposing their desires - subtly and or coarsely - on a woman? And how many times do you hear about women (or those playing a socially dubbed feminine role in the relationship) expressing the wish that their counterparts - “masculine” - would honor and respect their space, body, emotions, mentality, and or deeper self?
This isn’t rocket science. This is learning how to communicate effectively, so both parties in a relationship feel respected, trusted, and honored on all levels of their being. To me, there is a cultured classiness that goes into being a ‘gentleman’. I think that every true gentle-man is someone who is amorously and gallantly attentive to his partner. Being attentive and present is said to be the key to good communication.
Communication is described in Wikipedia as:
“Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning "to share") is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, ideas, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures.”
For us humans, it is the equal sharing and comprehension of an idea or concept between two people. If there is a miscommunication, somewhere along the line, the idea or concept shared between the parties involved has developed incongruity. If there is a dissonance observed on either side, that needs to be checked out asap. And should the need arise to take time to clarify the situation, regardless of whether or not the people involved want to do it or not, it is imperative to do so. In order for them to get back on track to understanding what is the mutual idea or concept at hand, and each person’s understanding of it, they need to take the time to communicate. Some references on what to clarify comprise of: our physical needs, emotions, mentality and perspective, and spiritual callings or essential nature.
Assumptions are the termites of relationships.
So how does all this tie into building a conducive atmosphere for intelligent introspection? In order to holistically comprehend and integrate all of the tips we have so far discussed, as well as their principles, we have to cover them from two viewpoints:
For outrospection, it means we have to observe, intently and consciously, the other person, people, or sentient being. To observe them without judgement, and with an intention to understand and connect with them on multiple layers. We need to come to a clear understanding of ‘what’ makes them them, and why. This is the art. It does have science to it - biology, sound-wave vibrations, chemistry, physics, wavelengths - but putting them all together with class and suave, is art. And that is what makes it fun. Yet, there is something vital to take into consideration when only focusing on outrospection. How do we clean the lens we use to observe through? If my lens is dusted with jealousy, greed, idolization, adoration, fantasy, frustration, you-name-it, then is that affecting the quality of my observations?
We come to the crux of the issue. What is a time-honored and proven way to cultivate skills of keen observation and focused awareness? Yes, introspection. Intro referring to inside; -spection, to looking at, sight and vision. In-sight. So, what are we observing? What are we trying to relate to and establish a connection with?
Introspection is the forerunner of true meditation. Through introspective meditation, we train in combining the body and mind. And that is considered the true affair, romance, and relationship. Why? Through meditation, we are observing the connection between body and mind. We are beholding who we are; perceiving and discerning the connections between the awareness and the thoughts, the thoughts and the emotions, the emotions and the inner atmosphere, and how that influences our actions. Since our actions make us who we are, by properly meditating we develop an understanding of how to have a deeper relationship with ourselves. If we can do it with ourselves - commonly referred to by the wise as the most difficult thing in the world to do - then we can successfully and wholly develop a relationship with someone else. When we already know who we are, what makes us us and we are at peace and happiness with that, then no one can take that away from us.
I don’t need anyone to rectify my existence.
The most profound relationship we will ever have,
is the one with ourselves.
That victory is ours. More importantly, we are no longer dependent on happiness and fulfillment from an outside source. Then, eventually and as we practice further, the walls melt and there is no separation between the inside and outside. There just is. But first step’s first.
The body and mind are separate yet somehow inter-dependent. They are connected. Properly practicing meditation exposes the true nature of this dynamic relationship, and how we as humans have the unique and auspicious opportunity to discover it for ourselves. Personally, that is one of the most beautiful benefits of meditation. We get to learn about and come to terms with who we are, who we really are, and what is the true nature of body and mind. What could be more beneficial that that? What could be more essential than that?
The Gautama Buddha is quoted for saying:
manasa ce pasannena
bhasati va karoti va
tato nam sukha manveti
All things have mind as their forerunner [basis]; they have mind as their chief; they are mind-made. Thus, if one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness (sukha) follows him like a shadow that never leaves him.
-Dhammapada Verse 2
What this means is that the origin of all things, let alone relationships, stem from the mind. Should that be the case, then understanding ‘mind’ would be a crucial part of our life and reality. And should we want to prove or disprove this, then the way to do that is through proper meditation.
Once we come to understand and experience this inner connection, we can only then truly understand the ‘blue-prints’ and DNA that compose healthy and powerful relationships, either romantic or otherwise. We can then begin to see the interweaving patterns and matrix behind our social paradigms and systems. Then we see how that influences the creation of cultures, races, and worlds.
“No message could have been any clearer.
If you wanna make the world a better place,
you take a look at yourself,
and make that change.
I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”
It all comes back down and in, to introspection. By sparking intrigue and interest amongst the body and mind, eventually they meet and connect. In the beginning, the goal is to coerce the ‘awareness’ into one place by giving attention to the atmosphere around it. In order to calm the mind and nestle it down in repose with a continuing stillness in one place, then one way to achieve that is to first give some attention to the mood you are in. Why are your favorite places your favorite places? Is it the ‘vibes’ of the place? People create vibes. And the state of mind - including mood, emotions, etc. - that people are in is what creates the vibes.
Calming down to a gentle and steady internal focus causes the components - khandas - of the mind, citta, to enter a more malleable state. When something is more malleable it is easier to work with. This is a very important stage, as it is a precursor to samadhi.
This leads to the big question of our interior design: what atmospheric elements are we developing for an inner environment conducive to harboring samadhi? Put another way: what tools are we using to coerce the mind into settling down and nestling inside the body?
The answer is in another question. And in order to understand the depth of what goes into this question, it required the preface that is everything aforementioned. The question is: what kind of atmosphere and mood would you build for your loved one? Why not apply that to yourself, to your meditation practice. Here is a list, taught by many meditation masters in Asia (Luang Por Dhammajayo being one of them), as the atmosphere established when a healthy relationship is progressing between the body and mind for meditation:
-Equanimity, Non-reactiveness, Non-responsiveness
-Letting Go / Surrendering
-Enjoying the process, Embracing the practice
Be your own artist, your own chef. Test and discover ways to combine and portion out these elements so that they consistently give the result of spontaneous ‘Stopping Still’. There are two types of stopping still: forced and allowed. Forcing a stopping of the mind is something frequently asked on how to avoid, as it is unstable, and unpleasant. To allow the mind to enter stillness on its own, we simply empower the causes that automatically generate the condition of stillness, and sit back to watch the process unravel before our awareness’ eye.
Why is there all this talk about stopping still in meditation? Once we learn how to stop still, we can fully observe. When we are still, there are no distractions directing our attention somewhere else and we can thus fully ‘be’ there; we can be fully-present. By practicing on ourselves first, we develop the toolkit to then ‘be’ with any other sentient being. To bring in a bit of terminology, training in observation and stillness leads to what is referred to in Pali as Ekagattā, “concentration” or “one-pointedness”. Ekagattā is essential for meditation. Without it, there is no meditation. There is no jhāna, no samatha, no vipassanā. The state of concentration is how we truly connect, how we truly become aware - cultivate sati. Properly formatting and setting the building blocks of our inner atmosphere is how we intelligently design our life’s outcomes and value. Relationships being an experience along the way. See the connections. Know the process. Be your own master and mold your own destiny.
Atta hi attano natho
ko hi natho paro siya
attana hi sudantena
natham labhati dullabham
In service, Joshua Jayintoh
"In the divine scriptures, there are shallows and there are deeps; shallows where the lamb may wade, and deeps where the elephant may swim."