Better relationships in 10 bites


How not to use this guide:

Do NOT, under any circumstances, confuse these perspectives for being absolutely true.  Don’t make them your beliefs.  Don’t try to convince others they are “the right way to look at things”.  They are simply perspectives, not absolute truths.  Confusing the two can be tragic.  Don’t go there.  To the extent these perspectives illuminate more of reality for you, you will be able to embrace more of reality, and thus to experience more of life and more of your partner.  To the extent that you take these on as truths, your awareness will contract.  That goes for any opinions.  This is both practices and perspectives.  What you experience directly through the practices… your inner world, your inner experience… thats actually happening.  When you translate it into words, thats relatively true, at best.  There is a difference between absolute truth and relative truth.  Don’t confuse them.  Don’t conflate them.


(1) Notice more then your self


When your self absorbed, relationships suck.  You may as well be alone.  What is there to notice?   Here are some places to start.




You have an inner world.  Its vast.  Thoughts, feelings, intentions, preferences and so on.  Pay attention to it.  Notice it.


You have an outer world.  Circumstances.  Stuff.  And so on.


These are connected.  You can ignore the outer world and be a sage.  You can ignore the inner world and be a capitalist.  And you can pay attention to both.  Pay attention to both.  Then, when your being an ass, you can figure out why.


As we said, these two are connected.  Your intentions inform your behavior.  Your behavior generates feelings.  And so on.  There a valid and illuminating perspective in the space between each of these.  Try this practice:


  1. Notice what you feel in this moment
  2. Scan your body for sensations
  3. Notice what your intention is for reading this
  4. notice what motivated you to read this
  5. Notice how what you feel about what you reading affects how much more of it you will read…




(2) Own your shadow


If you don’t own your shadow your gonna project it on to your partner.  They will appear to suck when they don’t.   Own your shadow so you can actually see whats going on, instead of being stuck in some delusional fantasy.


Whats shadow?  Simply put, its fragments of your psyche, or your self, or of who you think you are, which are rejected, repressed and pushed outside of who you think you are.  How is it owned?  Sometimes, just by owning it.  Its helpful to identify what your trying to own first.  Its also helpful to relate to that part of you.  Try this:


  1. Identify the self aspect (eg. the manipulator, the self absorbed child, the controller, etc)
  2. See it (personify it.. closer your eyes, pretend its sitting in front of you, picture it)
  3. Relate to it (ask it what it wants, what it needs, how it would feel to get that, why its here, etc.
  4. When you feel like your getting at what its really about, become it.  Be it.  “I am a manipulator, etc).
  5. Witness it (imagine you are simply pure awareness, aware of it.  Notice it.)


(3) Be real


When your not authentic with your partner, you will both feel distant.   Whats real?  Its tough when you don’t know who you are.  If you think you know who you are you might be incorrect, so humility is important here.  Sharing whats happening on your interiority will help.  Thats called the unarguable truth.  “I feel, I am noticing, my intent is…” are examples.  “I feel like…” is a trap.  Thats not a feeling, its an interpretation.  Better to frame that as “my interpretation is”, “my perspective is”, etc.



(4) Don’t be an asshole


This is simple.  If your beloved thinks your being an asshole, look inside.  If you feel compassionate and open, receptive and vital, present and aware, he/she might be wrong.  If you don’t, and you feel uncomfortable with your partner thinking that, then you probably have some work to do.  Look inside.  When feedback from your partner gets to you, thats called a trigger.  When theres a trigger, theres some inner work.  If you don’t do that work, you will likely project onto them.  Thats when your disowned inner baggage gets put onto someone else.  Thats not good.  Do you think they are putting their garbage onto you?  Don’t try to explain that to them.  If the feedback you get is getting to you, you have some work.  Assume they are correct, own that shadow material, and look at them again.  When you look at your partner and feel compassion, empathy, presence and openness, stop your shadow work and just be present with them.


(5) Do what you say


You say one thing and you do it.  Then you say something else and you do it.  You make a promise and you fulfill on it.  Trust builds.  You can also say one thing and not do it.  Then say something else and not do that.  Trust disintegrates.  If you do what you say you will, you will build trust.  If you don’t, you will destroy it.  Trust builds relationships.  Want a long term relationship?  A quality short term one?  Do what you say you will.


(6) Be ethical


At some point in life you only considered yourself in your behavior.  It might be now.  At some point you may consider other people, like your family for example, in your behavior.  At some other point you may take into account your friends and your family.  Your community.  Your nation.  The world.  Think of concentric circles.  Theres some average amount of people you take into account in your behavior.  Thats called your center of gravity.  Being ethical means taking into account more people then just yourself.  The more people you take into account, the more ethical you are.  The more ethical you are, the more fulfilled you will be.


You can also lose yourself in trying to do this.  If your not really ethical and you try to be, you can get lost in that.  You can disconnect from what you care about, what you feel.  Don’t do that.  Ethics grow over time.  Just take into account more people then you normally do without forgetting what you care about.  Thats ethical growth.  Try this:


  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Bring to mind an image of yourself
  3. Extend loving kindness to yourself
  4. bring to mind an image of your family and closest loved ones (if you have them)
  5. extend loving kindness to them
  6. Bring to mind your larger community or town
  7. extend loving kindness to them
  8. Bring to mind the whole world
  9. extend loving kindness to them
  10. Bring to mind the whole of the Kosmos (inner and outer of all that is)
  11. extend loving kindness towards that
  12. Notice what you notice


(7) Let your relationships be your spiritual practice


Got a spiritual practice?  You may.  If so, let your relationships be part of that.  If not, let your relationships be your spiritual practice.  Spiritual practice is how the finite connects to the infinite.  Its how the self connects with that which is bigger then the self.  Regardless of how you relate to spirituality or don’t, you can let your relationships be your spiritual practice.   One example is learning tantra.


(8) Learn Tantra


Theres sex and then theres tantra.  When I talk about tantra I don’t mean the Tantric Buddhism branch of esoteric spirituality.  I mean sex that wakes you up.  Try this practice.


  1. Be present with each other
    • allow yourself to simply be present with your partner.
  2. Breathe together
    • sync your breathing with your partner.
  3. Circulate your energy together
    • imagine a cycle of energy moving from the top of your head down the front of your body, around your sacrum and back to the top.
  4. Combine these


Heres an example of combining them.  Start by breathing together.  Then, with your breath, cycle your energy together.  With your exhale moving your energy up your body, and your inhale moving it down the other side, allow each breath to be synchronized with your subtle body energy.  Imagine your physical boundaries extend only so far as your physical body.  With an exhale, extend your physical boundaries infinitely in all directions.  As infinitely expanded awareness become aware of your self, your partner, the union between you two, the space between you two.  Repeat until your breath, each breath, is in sync with your expansion and your subtle body movements.  THEN, allow very subtle movements at your hips to begin with your breath.  Stay present to your breath, your subtle body, and your partner as you let energy build between the two.


Each perspective (physical: breath, subtle:energy, causal:witness) correlates with a different state of consciousness.  Inhabiting each trains your being into being able to navigate these states of consciousness.  Simultaneous inhabitation of all three correlates roughly with what is commonly called non-dual awareness.  In the sense of states of consciousness, and mastery of them, this is a practice which one might use to move towards them.  State mastery is a common theme or element is most esoteric spiritual practices.  Esoteric refers to practical versions of spirituality, vs. Exoteric, or more fundamentalist practices.  Fundamentalist versions of spirituality lean away from practical application and lean into rigid belief systems, which actually inhibit the development of awareness in many ways and stagnate spiritual growth.



(9) Give a fuck


Sometimes you don’t care.  Sometimes you do.  When you don’t care, relationships suck.  When you do, they can be infused with meaning.  I am not saying to care so much about the relationship that it becomes your everything.  Thats a disaster.  Don’t do that.  Instead, let yourself care about this one.  Try this practice.


Part 1


  1. picture your partner (if you don’t have one, imagine one)
  2. notice what you feel
  3. allow yourself to feel that fully
  4. feel what you feel in your body
  5. adjust your body position so that it matches what you feel
  6. turn up the volume on that
  7. feel more fully
  8. notice what you feel


Part 2

  1. If you still cant connect to the part of you that gives a fuck, then allow yourself to feel apathy.  Thats the part of you that doesn’t care.  Numb.  Feel that.
  2. Turn that up.
  3. Feel it more.
  4. Express it.
  5. Move about the room.
  6. Make it big.
  7. Growl. Grunt.  Make it bigger… feel nothing, even more.
  8. Notice what you notice.  Then go to part 1.


(10) Let Go


When your attached to something, when your resisting something, relationships suck.  Instead of maintaining your attachment, let go.  Don’t worry, the idea that your clinging to something other the present moment will get you what you want doesn’t actually do what you think it will.  Just let go.  Try this:


  1. Identify what your attached to
  2. Let it go.
  3. Repeat.


Not quite working?  Try this:


  1. Identify what your attached to
  2. Imagine someone asking you “could you let that go?”
  3. Sit with the question.
  4. answer them.
  5. Imagine someone asking you “would you be willing to let that go?”
  6. Sit with the question.
  7. Answer them.
  8. Imagine someone asking you “when”?
  9. Sit with  that.
  10. let go.


Still cant get yourself to let go?  Try this:

  1. Feel what your attached to.
  2. have someone look you in the eyes and say compassionately “let go”
  3. sustain eye contact with that person
  4. sit with the prompt
  5. let go


Don’t know what your attached to?  In most cases our attachments are about either security, approval or control.    Ask yourself, is this about security?  If so, let go of your attachment to security.  Use the above processes.  Ask yourself, is this about approval?  Same deal.   Control?  Same deal.


Theres definitely more, but this is a starting place that will probably bring you better relationships.  Try it out.  If it works, do it some more.  If it keeps working, do it more and more.  If you get hungry for the next level, holler at us.  Theres more.




Got thoughts, feedback, beef for the author?    Comment below


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