How can we apply the teachings of yoga to improve the quality of intimacy in our relationships?
Often, when we study yoga, it is a practice focused on exploring the inner self. We learn of discipline, honesty, equanimity, and many techniques that aim to bring us to a higher state of consciousness. While this practice is deeply enriching, it can be difficult to integrate these new teachings into our day to day lives, especially in our interactions with loved ones. How can we apply the teachings of yoga to improve the quality of intimacy in our relationships? Together, we are going to create the Ultimate Bliss Ball! This magical, nutritional treat consists of peanut butter, cacao, seeds, and other nutritious bits, and is coveted by yogis and yoginis far and wide. How to make this Ultimate Bliss Ball? Using the yamas of yoga, we will begin by creating a safe container. Next, we will discuss three healthy practices; honest communication, independence, and Divine Union. We will explore what each of these looks like in a healthy relationship, and ways that it can fall out of balance. Lets get started!
Step 1 – A Safe Container
Here we are, standing in the kitchen, about to begin making Bliss Balls. All of the ingredients are out on the counter…But we seem to have overlooked something. What are we going to mix them in? We need a sturdy, reliable bowl, or “safe container”. What does a safe container look like within a relationship? I have identified three necessary components. Both partners must agree to uphold these standards in order to create and maintain a safe space. The first component, ahimsā, “being firmly grounded in nonviolence” (Patanjali 2.30), means both partners will do their best to apply self-awareness of how their actions affect each other as well as themselves. Second, it is important that both partners are committed to a common intention. In this case, that would likely be spiritual growth, or samādhi. Third, we can apply the yama of asteya, or “non-stealing” (Patanjali 2.30), as a commitment to not take energy away from one another. Maintaining a balance of effort and surrender between partners will keep us from becoming overly dependent or emotionally exhausted.
Step 2 – The Gooey Glue
Now that we have found a bowl in which to mix our Bliss Balls, it’s time to add ingredients. Let’s start with peanut butter, the glue. In this case, the glue is the satya, or “truthfulness” (Patanjali 2.30). We will apply it to our Bliss Ball in the form of honest, non-violent communication. This requires us to make ourselves vulnerable in order to speak our truth. It also means listening to our partner with the intention of understanding rather than solely listening to respond. This becomes challenging when what is spoken is not necessarily what we want to hear. These difficult truths will draw us in for some self reflection. Because of this, it is important that we practice non-violent communication, a way of expressing ourselves kindly and compassionately, from the heart. We must be true to ourselves. Suppressing our feelings or shying away from sharing in order to avoid conflict in a partnership does not create an open line of communication. When we are truly honest, we become an accurate mirror for our partner and an encouragement for growth.
Step 3 -The Necessary Nuts
Now that the peanut butter is in the bowl, it’s time to add the nuts and seeds. No one really likes this part, but we eat it because we know it’s good for us. The nuts and seeds, in this case, are also known as aparigrahā, or “non-grasping” (Patanjali 2.32). In a relationship, this translates to independence, specifically, emotional independence. What does this look like? A wise friend once told me: “It is loving somebody so wholly that you just genuinely want their happiness, whether or not it benefits you.” This alludes to a practice of loving somebody without expectation or attachment. Easier said than done! A lot of suffering in relationships is rooted in fear–a fear that the partner could disappear from our lives in some way. Another way that we can practice aparigrahā is by bringing awareness to the expectations placed on our partner. Sometimes, in relationships, because the other person is there, we ask them to fill holes within ourselves that may actually be work that is intended for us. Loving with the intention of making the other happy–rather than with the expectation that they need to make us happy–is a practice that will pull us away from this grasping. That being said, it is important that we check in with ourselves to ensure that our needs are being met within the relationship. Sometimes, we can overcompensate and begin to sacrifice parts of ourselves in an attempt to love. Be honest and check in with yourself!
Step 4 – The Divine Ingredient
And now… it’s time to add our favorite ingredient! Drumroll please… Cacao! Also known as brahmacharya and can be interpreted as “preserving our vital life force”. In this situation, brahmacharya is translated, not as sexual moderation, but as creating the space within the relationship to go inward. If we view our partnership as Divine Union, we can have a more fulfilling spiritual experience. Imagine that your union is a golden cup. What would you like to put inside that cup? Likely, only the finest of liquids! If both partners approach the relationship with this attitude, we open a door for great spiritual transformation. This can be challenging because when we love someone it’s easy to want to be with them all the time. However, if both partners bring enriching experiences from outside the union, it becomes a fast track for growth!
Last But Not Least – Mix It Up!
Now that our bowl is overflowing with the finest of nutrients, all we have to do is toss in the final goodies and mix it all together! Have fun with it, adjusting to taste the peanut butter (satya), nuts and seeds (aparigrahā), and cacao (brahmacharya), being blended together with love, patience, and intention within a safe container of ahimsā and asteya. It’s not an easy process, but i can promise you that it will be worth it. When will The Ultimate Bliss Ball be ready to eat? According to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 1.22, the time is near, “How near depends on whether the practice is mild, moderate or intense.” Have a ball!
Suggestions for Cacao Ball Recipe: (To Taste)
Ground Hemp Seed
Ground Flax Seed
Moringa or Spirulina
Toasted Sesame Seeds
Toasted Coconut Flakes
Raisins or Dates
Mix Together into balls and enjoy!
—Contributed by Kendall Rae Moyer