With February upon us, thoughts of love and loss are likely on our minds. For those of us not in an intimate relationship, we might fantasize about the stability that we hope to experience once matched with the right partner. For those of us already coupled, we might have private dreams about more passion, spontaneity and fun with a different partner. More often than not, we tend to look for either stability or freedom because we have been told that these paradoxical qualities are not symbiotic. What if, though, we didn’t have to choose? What if we could have both stability and freedom in our relationships? Security and spontaneity? Safety and passion? With a conscious commitment and the proper tool set, intimate relationships provide the best opportunity for us to both heal old wounds and grow into the fullest expression of ourselves; in essence, to become whole. Our wholeness, however, does not lie in our partner or in being perfect or in being conflict-free. Wholeness is found in the integration of the many internal contradictions we experience on a daily basis; that we are loving and cruel, honest and dishonest, courageous and cowardly. In relationships, like in life, when we integrate the both/and of our experiences and avoid the trap of ascribing to extremes we experience real love.
So, how then can we experience both stability and freedom in our relationships? My wise yoga teacher answered this question recently by instructing, “The more you ground and find stability in your legs, the more freely your heart can open.” This was profound for me. Here’s why:
Stability is a sense of being grounded and flexible (which, by the way, is different than rigidity which is brittle and inflexible). The way we incorporate stability into our relationships is through boundary setting. A boundary is something that separates one person from another and flows in two directions—inward and outward. Stability is achieved when our boundaries are clear regarding what we protect against or absorb such as abuse, love, or our partner’s emotional state (that’s the inward direction) and what we are capable of containing such as our impulses to blame, shame, or criticize our partner (that’s the outward direction). When we have clear boundaries, we experience stability; a groundedness in ourselves. This stability allows us to consciously choose to let go of past grievances, expectations, and resentments. Letting go and anchoring on our internal foundation opens the heart and is the gateway to ultimate freedom; the freedom to be self-expressed, spontaneous and fully alive.
On my yoga mat I realized that the only way to experience freedom and open my own heart is through my own stability. And, the more I opened my heart, the more stability I needed to anchor upon to remain undefended. Finding our stability, rather than clinging to rigidity, is the foundation that actualizes our vulnerability, connection, and aliveness. This month may you find your stability, clarify your boundaries, open your heart, feel boundless freedom and experience your whole-est you.