Have you ever thought to ask the question of why certain people are in your life? In one of OWN’s Super Soul Sessions, Marianne Williamson, author of Return to Love and many other NY Times Best Selling Books, evaluates the “Spiritual Purposes of Relationships”.
At tonight’s “Super Soul” Share Class/Happy Hour, our discussions centered around Marianne’s thoughts on the elusive topic. This particular talk is near and dear to my heart for so many reasons but I thought I would try and narrow it down and simplify it as best as possible:
We are ALL connected.
Seeing ourselves as separate from each other is a core belief that makes us not in relationship with others, it separates us. Just like in Dirty Dancing when Patrick Swayze famously says, “Nobody puts Baby in a Corner”. We aren’t meant to be separate. Marianne Williamson in the Spiritual Purposes of Relationships states, “We are not separate waves in the ocean, we are the ocean.”
Realizing that we are all one and the same – all souls on this earth, no different, no less, from each other is such an important realization to have and an eye opening way to see each and every person around you and how you ultimately interact with them.
Marianne says in a Return to Love, “When you meet anyone, remember it is a holy encounter.” “As you see her, you will see yourself. As you treat her, you will treat yourself. As you think of her, you will think of yourself…Never forget this, for in her, you will find yourself…or lose yourself.”
This quote reminds me of something I’ve learned through parenting, “our kids are mirrors to our souls”. They reflect back to us our own selves – the good, bad and the ugly, which brings every emoji possible to mind but the crazy ones stick out in my mind.
Looking at what Marianne says, we can all realize that how we show ourselves to anyone, not just our kids, what we say to others, what we say to ourselves, what we think about others, what we think about ourselves, is really a reflection of who we are at our core. Everything you say, think about, do to others, you are actually doing to yourself. Let that one soak in….and gulp, that can be a tough one to swallow if you are willing to see yourself for who you really are and open your heart and make room for where you need to grow. What you feel, think, say, seek in others is really just a mirror to your soul. As Marianne has said, “Every time you attack another person, you are attacking yourself…You realize that in every moment that you have blamed someone, you could have blessed someone.” I know you all are thinking, “Oh dear God, I have a lot of work to do!”
Marianne says, “God is in everyone or God is in no one. We are all in this together and the company of spiritual friends helps us realize our interconnectedness. When you realize that we all are connected that “I’m just like everyone, just as wounded, just as hurt”, you develop compassion and empathy for others.” Learn to operate from that space of knowing we are all one and the same is a very powerful healing tool and a much gentler way to walk in this world.
Shine Your Light
Marianne asked us to see the universe like it’s a house wired for electricity. We are all lamps in many shapes and sizes. Our light is meant to shine and light the universe. If we stay unplugged, darkness fills our lives. Learn to “plug in” through spiritual practice. With every prayer, every thought of forgiveness, every act of love, we plug in to allow our light to shine through and see the true beauty of each and every soul.
Always know that you are shining brightest when you plug in and shine your light alongside everyone else. No blowing anyone else’s light out thinking yours will shine brighter. Help them shine in their own right.
This takes me back to Seattle when Oprah demonstrated this lesson during the “Live Your Best Life Weekend” when she gave us all bracelets and one by one in a dark arena filled with thousands of people, the bracelets lit up one-by-one showing us that we are all the light.
We talked more about this during the Share Class by using a flashlight demonstration. If we hold the flashlight above us and shine it down, it only illuminates our self. And really sometimes that’s okay because we all have to learn that we each have our own light but our true purpose is to take our own light and shine it outwards onto others. You see, when we recognize our own light and light others up, we give them permission to shine in their own right. And guess what happens, you not only light up others, you light up a room, you light the world. If you ever forget this and darkness gets the best of you, go outside in the darkest of hours and simply just look up. The stars in the sky show you this very principle. This simple act of looking up at the night’s sky this way, will make you never forget the potential of “shining your light”. [Unless, of course, it’s a cloudy night and there’s not a star visible, that happens you know so I’m thinking of those rare occasions so if that happens to you, not to worry, hop on over to google images to get your star gaze fix and you are right back with us!)
Operate from a place of love, a heart space of love.
Glance over that quote again – what is not love is a call to love. When you are not being loving to yourself or to another person, it is a wake-up call. It is the 5 am sound of the phone, where we are flailing to answer, to awaken up out of our own deep slumber, to answer the call, telling us to BE LOVE to ourselves and to others. That simple.
It’s really about no longer living out of fear, being in judgement, finding fault, blame or simply avoidance – it’s all one and the same. When we are blaming others or offloading to others, we are craving deeper emotional connections. It’s single-handedly laying down the armor, piece by piece, all that which has shielded our hearts, to then bare our pure souls to the world and operate from a place of love where there is no shame, no embarrassment, just ourselves, who we really are…basking in the glory of the full and whole truth of ourselves and no longer projecting our thoughts about others…it’s time to look inwards.
When we learn to intertwine our fingers, wrap our hands in others, practicing compassion and generosity, guess what happens? Love walks right alongside with us, surrounds us and is there for us, like a best friend, and shows itself in everything we see, feel, touch, think, hear, do and say.
Marianne says that in every relationship, and really in every moment, we either teach love or we teach fear. If we learn that we are loving and lovable, we learn how to love more deeply. If we do the opposite and demonstrate fear or negativity, we learn self-condemnation. We ultimately learn what we have chosen to teach. Simply put, choose love.
Marianne says that, “We have been infected by a spiritual malignancy…We make it all about ourselves and then wonder why our relationships don’t work.”
When you are in the right relationship with God, you will be in the right relationship with others. Our highest intentionality is for us to receive that higher love and extend it outward. If spirit is your primary relationship than your relationship with other people will be correct. If your relationship with spirit is unaligned than your relationship with other people will be unaligned. When your relationship is aligned, you can ask to be used as an instrument of love. Then you don’t go into relationships to try and use people, exploit them, manipulate them, sell them something to get what you want.
Marianne stated a known elephant in the room of our society today is that people’s intentions have become “transactional instead of relational.” What can you do for me, what can I say or do to make you want to do what “I want” or how can I coerce you into thinking like I do. This quote sums up that concept beautifully, “Grace will take you places that hustling can’t. People who hustle are trying to hustle their worthiness.”
What if instead we came at it from a place of love? How would our world be different?
I shared with the ladies a very personal story about my own vertical alignment and how it brought me out of the gallows of heartache that seem to hang above me and brought me up into the light and down a road of living out of love (mind you it wasn’t a day long journey, something like a twenty-five year journey of a return to love). It’s no secret that the title of my cookbook is “Sharing Our Life, Love and Food” but what you may not know is that the reason it is called that is that for so many years, I built a wall around my life and sheltered my ability to fully share life and love because I operated from a place of hurt. I danced in and out of my relationship with God (with love) from a young age after losing my first boyfriend to a tragic farm accident when I was 16 and turning against a God who would do such a thing to than years later, learning that this whole time God had been with me, right beside me, I just didn’t know it until I learned to look up and align with that higher power and operate through his eyes and not seeking it from other places. This is where one of my “authentic angels” gets a double high five and the biggest hug in the world for nudging me down this path.
Turns Out We All Need to Be Doing A Little More Yoga For Some Maximum Soul Growth!
Marianne says that relationships are like an assignment, and each person is the lesson. Growth comes from putting focus on our lessons, not someone else’s lessons. Life uses other people to show us the truth of ourselves and/or where healing needs to happen. Marianne says the purpose of the relationship assignment is to lift and lead each of us to the highest level and give us the maximum opportunity for soul growth.
To achieve that ultimate soul growth, Marianne share that we are here to do three things:
- To Be the Best We Can Be, to realize our full potential, to become the highest manifestation possible for ourselves in this one lifetime (Learning To Actualize…”To Be An Instrument of Love”)
- Learning to Work Alongside Others, to work jointly, interconnectedly, we are not meant to walk alone. What we give to others, we give to ourselves. What we withhold from others, we withhold from ourselves (Learning To Collaborate)
- Share Your Gifts, Talents, Abilities, to be used for the greater good, to make your life’s work an expression of love and in service to mankind (Learning To Be of Service)
Makes me think of Mitch Albom’s book, The Five People We Meet In Heaven”. So fun to go back in time and think of everyone who has crossed each of our paths and what they have taught us and how they have impacted our lives in some way. I know deep within my soul that some of the ladies who have showed up in my life have been my biggest teachers, greatest blessings in happiness, love, pain, trust and friendship.
Marianne reminds us that when we forget the purpose of relationships, we reject people, refusing to see that they are revealing their wounds that often show up as character defects. We think, they are so rude, so needy, so controlling, to the point that we can’t stand them. That is not love…it is a call to love.
Marianne takes us through a process on learning to deal with relationships that aren’t so easy as we all know it’s so much easier when we get along with someone. It’s even more telling when we don’t. She says to ask yourself a few questions in these situations:
#1. For me to actualize – for me to say about myself, would God have me reject you because you are wounded. Is that what love does? If my right relationship is to be love, then I am to stand in the presence of your wound which you are showing me. In order to be in my right relationship with love and spirit is to stand here not in judgement or blame but rather to ask that I be an instrument of love.
#2. How can I work with this person, collaborate with them?
#3. How can I be used in service? Learn to give your gifts away in service to the world.
She says, “Our purpose here is to be used for something higher than ourselves and to greet everyone we meet with that Namaste consciousness where we know this is something holy, a holy encounter, if I intend it to be so.” The highest power thought is that I’m just like everyone else. I’m just as wounded as everyone else. I’m just as hurt as everyone else. I’m just as hungry for love as everyone else. That gives you empathy, that gives you compassion. Then being in relationships isn’t something you have to strive for, relationship than is a primal state of being. And, then we heal, our wounds begin to heal…
She gave us a great example of all of this when she works with couples who are begrudging one another in marriage counseling. She would say to the spouse, “Did you pray for your spouses’ happiness when they left the house this morning”.
[Insert inner dialogue thought bubble, “Uh…NO! Of course, we didn’t, we said some other not so nice, choice words…Why would I ever pray for &**%$#?”].
Praying for someone else’s happiness, wishing them well and good thoughts – is what the “plugging in of the lamp” is. In any given moment we can practice it. Just like in yoga or any other physical practice of building our external muscles, with spiritual practice, we learn to train our “attitudinal” muscles and learn to discipline our thoughts. In that downward dog or pyramid stance, you learn to discipline our internal and external muscles at the same time and learn to rest in that “uncomfortable” place learning to move into a peaceful state. Mind you, sounds so easy but oh it’s just not so simple, trust me, hop into a downward dog and hold that pose for a good several minutes (see diagram below if you have forgotten the pose, see look how helpful it is. Now hop to it…start some downward dogging and not just for 3 seconds, hold it for as long as you can.). You can thank me later as you start to curse out loud!. It takes constant practice, redirection and focus.
Who knew! A 2-for-1 practice of calming our minds, all the while building and flexing our inner and outer muscles. I’d say that’s a win-win! I knew there was a reason I love yoga so much…let’s all go get to our downward dogs…remember no cursing…just Namaste those thoughts!
BTW, shout out to all the amazing yogis out there who inspire us all at each and every practice! Love you for all that you do and bring to this world!
Through that spiritual practice/exercising of the mind, here is what we learn:
It’s a matter of discipline and training our thoughts (just like yoga). If you start to walk up to someone, and judgmental thoughts about yourself or them creep in, stop “your thoughts” in their tracks. Choose Love. Stand for Love, Stand for God, Stand for Enlightenment, Stand for Self-Care, Stand for Love. Don’t beat yourself up if you mess up. We all can start again.
Showing us that which is possible
Our generosity, our love towards others is key to our experience in the world. Whatever it is you are wanting to do, give it away in service to your community. I want to believe that we all love being around people who are feeding their mind, body and spirit. People who are serving, who are giving, who are sharing, not hoarding, not limiting, not fighting but people who are bonding over the good in the world, celebrating the triumphs, championing others to be their best. Those type of people are what make this world beautiful and there is enough room and need for everyone to be beautiful in this world in their own right.
The authentic angels I mention in the cookbook who inspire others to reach higher in their life, the teachers of the world, remembering and recognizing those who have gone before us and the light, lessons and blessings they have shed into our lives and how they made us better for it, those people who are the Oprah’s, the Ghandi’s, the Mother Teresa’s of the World who have actualized themselves, those who have succeeded in any of the areas we have mentioned above, what have they all done?
They have created more of a possibility for us all. It’s the reason we are grateful and feel blessed to/for these people – they have shown us through relationship, through love, that which is POSSIBLE “for” and “in” us all. Not just you, your neighbor, your kids, but for all the souls out there… it is possible!
Hope you enjoyed this summary of a “Return to Love”. Obviously touched on a lot of the talk but certainly not all of it so definitely feel free to go back and watch the full Super Soul Session and share any thoughts you might have on it as we are all here learning, loving and growing ourselves with the consciousness of not trying to making any one practice right or wrong just offering a new consideration, a unique perspective on things, exploring, digging deeper, bringing any “aha” moments that may help you in your own life and the possibility of sharing it with others.
“If there is one take away from this post, I hope you will walk away living, thinking, breathing love and offering it to others.”
With much love,
P.S. As always you can find more at Sharing Our Life, Love and Food. Our next “Super Soul” Share Class/Happy Hour is Tim Storey’s, “The Heart and Soul of a Comeback” on March 4th. Thanks to Kathy for agreeing to open up her home to all of us in March.
When you operate from a place of sharing, your world opens, it is magnified in every possible way. Hope you enjoy the gifts. As it said, remember to “open a card whenever you need to remember your own potential, share with someone who always, makes a difference for the better…and…go give your gift to the world.” Thanks ladies – what gifts you all are!