Integral relationships

This is going to be another simplistic skeleton post (as so many others here), but that is what comes out these days…

William Harryman, eBuddha and others have had a discussion going on integral relationships, and although I am interested in the topic, I must admit I haven’t read many of the posts (maybe I will in the future).

I don’t really know about integral relationships, but I know what comes up for me around more mature relationships, and I can always filter it through a simple aqal framework…

  • It involves working on myself (upper left, inner/one) and directly on the relationship with my partner (two, inner/outer) including in a social and cultural context (many & inner/outer, aware of impacts of norms, expectations, etc.)
  • It involves awareness of a range of levels of being, and the impacts and processes going on at each (evolutionary psychology, depth psychology, group processes, social psychology, cultural/social impacts, etc.)
  • It involves seeing my partner (intimate and otherwise) as a mirror for myself. Whatever I see there is also here in myself (projections, shadow work).
  • It involves recognizing when beliefs and identities are triggered/threatened (contraction, tension, stress, unease, sense of something off) and knowing how to work with it (question/explore the beliefs/identities)
  • It involves deepening into the evolving fullness of who I am, as a human being, with a widening embrace of all of what I am, and the shared humanity I find in that way.
  • Working with beliefs, identities, projections and shadows invites a more open/receptive mind and heart, and a deepening recognition of (and empathy for) the other and myself, especially for the areas where we are still stuck and blind.
  • It involves holding the space for myself and the other to notice and explore all of this (when we are ready for it).
  • It also involves recognizing what level each of us operate from in the moment… ego/ethno/world/kosmocentric… which has to do with (a) the type of belief we are caught up in, and (b) the strength of the grasp on the belief (tends to be a lighter touch as the circles widen, allowing for an easier recognition of the truth of the reversals)

According to eBuddhas suggestion, I may be qualified to say something about this as I have been in a committed relationship for about a decade, and have been into (or at least interested in) integral frameworks and practice for longer than that, but I don’t feel all that qualified (not at all, actually).

I can’t even say I know what a successful relationship is. At one point, I thought I did (especially as I was well aware of many of the conventional definitions from psychology, family therapy, etc.), but not anymore. It may sound radical, but the more I explore my relationships (through Process Work, The Work etc.), the more genuinely I see any relationship as ideal, as it is. It is life working itself out, in its immense wisdom. Sometimes it looks beautiful to us, and other times ugly, but neither of those are even close to telling us how “successful” it is…

As useful as frameworks and models are, life is always more than and different from any of them… and sometimes it feels inappropriate to even try to apply neat frameworks and models to life, and especially certain areas such as intimate relationships. It is something that is far too alive, too mysterious, working itself out in ways hidden to me… trying to make it fit into a framework can too easily stifle its life and mysterious unfolding (not really, but it sounds good), which has an inherent intelligence that goes far beyond my own (if there is one thing I have learned about relationships, it is just that).

It is a too technical approach to something far too alive, mysterious and inherently intelligent. I guess it is that way with all of life, but for me it is especially clear in relationships.

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