Sivana Podcast: The Alchemy Of Loving Relationships- Spirituality, Gratitude, And 3 Myths You Need To know
The Full Discussion
How do we live a fulfilled life while engaging in loving relationships? What are some of the myths we hold onto about love, and how do they impact our capacities for loving relationships? Join us with Linda Bloom, psychotherapist, educator, author and relationship counselor, as we dive into a conversation about relationship. We’ll explore how relationships can become our greatest spiritual practice, and learn some of the possible road blocks and difficulties we’re likely to encounter along the way.
A really powerful question is how may I best love you? It’s important to be with our beloved whether it’s a friend, whether it’s our child, whether it’s our spouse, whether it’s our lover, and not assume that we know how they would like to be loved.
Namaste, you’re listening to the Sivana podcast. Join us on an exploration of eastern spirituality, yoga philosophy and conscious living for the New Age. This podcast is a production of sivanaspirit.com, where you can find a large selection of om and yoga clothing, spiritual jewelry and unique fair trade gifts from the Far East. Now here’s your host, Ashton Szabo.
Greetings everyone! Welcome to the sivana podcast. I’m Ashton Szabo,your host.
Today’s show is about relationship. About some of the myths we hold on to about love, and how as our guest today says “loving relationships are the foundation of a fulfilling life.”
Our guest today is Linda Bloom, she is a psychotherapist and relationship counselor and together with her husband, they’ve authored three books together. The first of which is the “101 things that I wish I knew when I got married” is currently in its eighteenth printing.
Linda, your husband has counseled and taught people across the globe, you guys also teach workshops and intensives with couples. We’re really lucky to have you on the show today, thank you so much for joining us.
I’m delighted to be here with you Ash, and thanks for inviting me.
Absolutely. So, on many paths of yoga relationship, in some cases just romantic relationships, in others all material relationship is seen as an impediment to ultimate fulfillment.
What is fulfillment to you and what role does relationship play in living a fulfilled life?.
Well, fulfillment for me is about living with a certainty, and a conviction, and clarity that I am giving and receiving love all day every day. And for me, that’s hitting the jackpot. And so, I will make a distinction between my spiritual practice that is being in service, or being in prayer, or being in meditation as distinct from my relationships with people.
All of the communicating that I do, talking with you on the show, speaking with my clients, teaching my students, even when I’m writing I’m thinking of the readership that them in service to. And it’s for me a mighty devotional practice that I feel that my efforts and my being in the world is enhancing more love in the world which I think the world needs a whole lot more of.
Absolutely. You talk about relationship as a spiritual practice, and I’m curious for people if we can dive into that a little bit more to realize like how does relationships become a spiritual practice instead of time away from spiritual practice? Because there is that that perception that like “Okay, well right now, I’m meditating and that is my spiritual practice” and now I got to go do my relationship thing and that’s not a spiritual practice, that’s time away. And you spoke to that a little bit, so I’m wondering if we can we can expand on that, really talk about how does that become a spiritual practice for you or what are some steps for people to start of like, “hey I don’t want to view my relationships as something that’s taking me away from my practice, I want that to be my practice itself”
Where would people start?.
Well, there’s a lot of spiritual teachers who will tell you that when you meditate in a cave, or if you’re in a sequestered environment in a nashra, or even in the meditation hall. That you can get sweeter and sweeter and sweeter and more open and more open and open. And then, when you leave that setting and you go back into the family with all of its demands and people’s differing needs and neurotic processes you can lose that sweetness. So I think it’s wonderful to be able to be in a sequestered environment than have pristine conditions around you. But most of us in the west are householders, were raising kids, were in the marketplace and we don’t have the luxury of spending large amounts of time sequestered that way.
So to see all day, every day as an opportunity to do spiritual practice. To be mindful, to be careful not to cause harm to other people and to be tuned in to what their needs are, the important people in our life, on the job, in our families especially if we live under the same roof with each other. To become more kind person, a more caring person, a more sensitive person, a more generous person. This is opportunity in our relationships to utilize our signature strengths that are already strong in us and to notice the places that are our weakness too, that we all have those too and that’s a profound spiritual practice.
If we’re impatient, we’re going to have opportunities in our relationships to practice patience. If we have a tendency to be judgemental, we have opportunities to practice holding back some of the things that want to come flying out our mouths, or even noticing in our mind and to be more gentle and kind in allowing intolerant in our mind. And so, all of this is of a piece of becoming more of who we can be, to evolve our own personal growth, our own striving towards enlightenment . The relationship practice is fraught with opportunities to become more. To possess that enlightenment, know that relationship is a fast track to enlightenment and I think he’s right on.
I love it, I think Ram does as well, “if you think you’re enlightenment, go home and live with your family”. It’s one of those great ideas, it’s really easy in some cases to do the cave thing and just be with yourself and not have to deal with that realm of relationship which acts as such a powerful mirror for us all. And when you go into people that know you really well and know how to push your buttons, it can be that huge challenge of like how do we hold on to. I know that’s that’s something that I’ve struggled with.
I lived abroad for a number of years, I spend a lot of time doing my practices and then now being a father and a husband and having to interact all the time. It’s challenging to really lean into a lot of the things that I could much easier or much more easily hide away from when I was just on my own doing my own practices.
What are some actual sort of tools or exercises people could do to start with the stuff? because the challenge is to say, “Okay, well I hear you, and if I’m judgemental, I can look at that and all these sorts of things.” But instead of it being an actual intellectual practice, how can people start to really create habits or develop tools to start to move down this path a little more skillfully, a little more thoroughly, than just thinking it in their head like “I want to be more present in my relationships or work”.
What are some things they can actually do and put in act?
Great question. My husband and I teach together and we model a lot for the groups. Because they sometimes haven’t seen it in their own families, with their parents, where they were growing up. So people are really hungry for models.
And so, we demo for them about how to do it with differences, with there’s real listening going on, where you don’t get thrown off your seat with reactivity, where you ask clarifying questions. Very important to bring the spirit of curiosity and wonder particularly of the emotional laden subjects.
And when there isn’t heavy emotional content that comes up, when we were having differences or afraid we’re not going to get our needs met generally speaking, to practice checking in with self and reporting out to other. So it’s alarming to me how many people get up in the morning, dash out to their job, work all day, come home tired and their giving minimal time and attention to their relationship and career may get much more, children may get much more, even their spiritual practice of the sitting on the cushion, silent meditation, or reading spiritual books may get more and the relationship gets leftover crumbs.
So, we’re always encouraging people to prioritize their relationship, to make a daily practice, a daily ritual out of checking in with self and checking in with other, and there was a spiritual teacher who have tremendous admiration for name Sylvia Bourse. She’s very practical, she’s in the Buddhist tradition, she teaches with Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock in the bay area, and she talks about talking meditation. And I love it since I’m such an extrovert and love to talk.
When you slow down the rate with which you interact with another person while you’re talking, you can really deepen the nature of the communication that you have with each other. So you have a contemplative pause before you deliver your message and then you allow contemplative pause on their part before they respond to your message. And you’re really having this communication maybe with our eye contact, maybe with touch, and that there is some depth in what you’re contacting that you’re perhaps sharing on a feeling, maybe you’re communicating to them, that you appreciate their being in your life. And I think that particularly with couples, but also with parent child, with close friends and family members to take the time to really show up and to be fully present with that person and to communicate it in a way that they really get you when you really get them and that’s satisfying. And I think, it’s profound spiritual practice when you’re not doing superficial relating, just minimal relating.
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And you kind of mention this presence as well with when we look at children, and children being this amazing practice of presence where especially young children, They don’t care what your past was, what your future is, the bills you’ve got to pay. They just want you to be present with them in that moment, and they’re quite willing to scream or get radical to demand that in the moment, which I think that as a parent, and something that really draws us in. It’s like, “oh I can’t be thinking about that thing that’s coming up. My child needs me to be fully present here”. but as you said a lot of times we don’t really practice that in the same way with our partners. The partner again can sometimes be the distracting thing from the spiritual practice, the work and all this and that. That’s absolutely unfortunate.
Alright, children can be our spiritual teachers, they are so precious in the moment.
And they’re not hung up on the past, and they’re not living in the future, they’re here in the now.
Which is part of our challenges, to show up at the present moment where life is going on.
So you’re a mother and you’ve experienced a pretty major tragedy with one of your children.
How do these difficult moments play into the realm of relationship?
Relationship to ourselves and to our romantic partner, to our family?
Maybe could talk a little bit about the tragedy. Explain how these big moments really work into the realm of relationship.
Well, my son even was twenty two when he had that freak accident and he was killed. My husband and I had a very strong sturdy relationship by the time we lost our son. And the grief was very heavy and we took times, took turns being there for each other. There would be a time when I would hold my husband, he would cry and would talk about how much he missed him, and then he could put his grief aside, and he could show up for me and hold me in all the crazy things that go through your mind and the anger. Grief is just not sadness about missing them, it’s all kinds of craziness that goes on during that time.
Fortunately, we were in a strong place in our life as individuals and as a couple. Because sometimes when a child dies and a couple is not in a good place, it could even you end up losing the marriage as well. And if we had lost one of our children when our marriage was shaky, we probably wouldn’t have made it through. But we were able to show up for each other in a very meaningful way which buffered some of the grief that we were completely swallowed up by it. And I have had other difficulties in my life as well, my husband and I are both cancer survivors and so it was scary that we might lose our lives or I was diagnosed at forty four years old I haven’t finishing raising my kids. My youngest child was only twelve at the time I was diagnosed and had an aggressive form of cancer, metastatic cancer. So, I didn’t even think I was will live till fifty. I just wanted to try to get her through school before I had to drop my body.
There was a period of time where our marriage was shaky. Fortunately, that was decades ago but we dangled close to the edge of divorce. And all these traumas in our life, serious traumas in our life, we learned how to use them and to mutually support each other to get through them. And I think when people have a concept of post-traumatic growth, the difficulties that befall us in our life, many of which we have no choice about things just happen. That we don’t have to be ground down by them, or worn out by them, or diminished by them, that we can use them as growth opportunities and we can’t do it alone. We have to do it in relationship with this someone at least someone else more is better. To have a women’s grouped up, to have the men’s grouped up. To have a friendship network, if we don’t have biological family to have family of choice. Because some of these things are just almost impossible to get through. That the people in our life just hold us up, while we stagger through them. So I always like to speak with people about holding the vision of coming through, not only not diminish to at least step back to your pretrial misstate. To be wiser than before, to be more aware of how precious people are to us, that we could lose them and any time our life can change in a moment, to express our appreciation, gratitude to each other because we don’t know that we’re guaranteed to have them in our future. And to let people know how much they mean to us.
And how important is gratitude in the realm of relationship?
I think it’s huge, mostly the courses that my husband-teacher relationship oriented, we teach secrets of great relationship, we teach a course called love, sex and intimacy from conflict to connection. These are all relationship courses. But we also teach them courses on happiness and well being. And we studied the positive psychology literature and they talk about gratitude and counting our blessings and cultivating that mind state of looking what is rather than what isn’t. Being the essential ingredient to having well-being in our life. And I love what they use in the positive psychology movement, they call it a joy jolt. That if you take a little time at the end of the day to journal or to say out loud, or even just to think you know inside your own heart about something that you’re grateful for during the day, being a LOT, of being healthy, that your children are healthy, that they’re alive, that you’ve got a partner even if you argue with them that day that they’re still with you, that you can practice your forgiveness with each other. That if you take the time to see how exquisite it is to be in a body, to live in this country, were so many people are trying to flee their countries because they’re afraid for their wives, they’re risking their lives to go on these flimsy boats because they have to take a chance to make their life better.
We have so much to be grateful for if we stop and really one by one go down that list. Not just a little blessing before we do a meal, although that’s a beautiful ritual to do it out loud with our family members. But to take the time each day, wouldn’t be too much to say, “I have so much to be grateful for” and when we say it out loud, with witnesses that amplifies it, it strengthens us. It really anchors it in our consciousness, so we’re looking at our life through rosier glasses not the dark ones that wack.
It’s interesting too how often people like “oh I just don’t have time or I forget all the time to sit down and have those few moments of gratitude”. But you figure that there are things like brushing your teeth that most people have just created that ritual of doing it every day, so it’s not even really like, “Oh of course I’ve got the time to do that because it’s important”. During that same time than to set time aside to say, “hey I’m just going to sit and be grateful for a couple of minute and list out the things that I’m grateful for”. I think it’s a wonderful practice.
Yes, this is a myth, do you know that in our newest book that just came out in April, it’s all about myths there are forty of them in there. And this is the myth of “there’s just not enough time”. And we hear it a lot, don’t have time to do my spiritual practice, I don’t have time to do my gratitude journal, I don’t have enough time to devote to my relationship and it’s a lie. We have the time, it’s what we choose to do with our time.
If we want to prioritize our gratitude practice, we will have the time and if we want to prioritize making room for talking meditation in our relationship, we will have the time.
So we are really about myth busting with this book, that there’s a carnal of truth, but the mind takes it, blows it up to vast proportions. And when we’re inviting people in the book to look more deeply into their belief system, we’re not saying you need to give up your beliefs, but we want you to deeply examine them and see if they’re working for you or they’re tripping you up. Particularly if your relationships aren’t working well, instead of hang it in on the other person to take responsibility for, “oh I think I might have something to do with this, it may have something to do with my beliefs about limiting beliefs”.
Well and that’s actually where I want to go to isnext. To talk about your new book the title in which series “Happily ever after and 39 other myths about love” and I was wondering, you just spoke of one and that’s the myth of not having enough time.
What would you say the top three myths about love are and how they impact our capacities for relationship?
Where we lead with the really popular one about happily ever after and put it right in the title because it’s such a setup. It’s such a setup that when you hit the inevitable rough spots and every relationship is going to have some. You cannot live in the Garden of Eden forever. Every couple is going to have an infatuation stage but they’re going to have to leave that infatuation stage eventually. And I think that’s when the relationship really gets interesting and matures and deepens. Because you see that the other person isn’t the perfect prince charming and Princess Charming and that you all have flaws, we all have flaws we’re all a mixed bag and let’s see what we can do with this, let’s see if we can assist each other on our growth path to strengthen some places where maybe weaks it. But if we have an expectation that we’re just going to be happy all the time, then we’re going to believe there’s something wrong with them, or there’s something wrong with me, or I got the wrong partner and there’s something wrong with this relationship.
I have to cut this one loose and go find somebody else and we see a lot of broken relationships even after people are married and have children together. And not every relationship deserves to be saved, they really are so mixed, mismatched pairs but not as many people who are breaking up.
A lot of people who are breaking up have tremendous raw materials, good potential that have the wind for relationships. but some of their beliefs may be really getting in their way.
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That idea of the soul mate as perfect partner meaning that like there will be no problems because they’re my soulmate is so damaging and that comes from that heavily ever after type of mentality that like, “oh well I’m going to finally meet someone and when I meet that person there won’t be arguments and will just fit in seamlessly together” that so does not being in the realm of reality of human relationship. Whether it’s romantic partner or otherwise, you’re always going to come into those conflicts at times and how you work through them and resolve them I think is really as you say, what creates the really deep relationships at that point, instead of ending it at that point which a lot of people do. They go, “oh we’re arguing so therefore it’s not perfect anymore and therefore we shouldn’t be together.
What are two other big myths that you know….
I will share one that was particularly difficult for me in the early years that we were together and I never even thought that this was a myth. I didn’t have any idea. I just accepted it is true. If he really loved me, he would know what I want and I wouldn’t have to ask. So we call this one the myth of mind reading. Even if your partner loves and adores you and they’re completely committed, most people don’t have that kind of E.S.P. that they can read your minds I believe that there are some people who have that gift in the world, but not that many. It’s a garden variety folks.
We have to ask for what I want and I spent a lot of time feeling very sad and kind of lonely and unloved because I took this as the truth. I didn’t have any clue but it was something that I made up my mind and it’s such a popular belief that a lot of people, they operate from this. And so, I thought well he loves me some, but too bad he doesn’t love me very much because he’s not that demonstrative, it doesn’t take my hand when we go walking in the forest, on our hikes, he doesn’t spontaneously rush over to me and give me that many hugs and kisses and if he really love me he’d be so demonstrative like I am, he’d be more like me.
And what I didn’t know at the time, that I was suffering like that is my husband was loving me very deeply all the while but he’s a more self-contained system and he isn’t that demonstrative. He’s more introverted and when I started to take more responsibility, if I wanted to hug, go hug him, if I wanted to kiss, go kiss him, if I wanted to hold hands while we were walking, take his hand or to ask for what I needed if I would just come, he would be forthcoming and he would lavish some love on me and I would be a happy camper.
What I didn’t know is that I was fearful of being vulnerable and asking for what I desired and asking for what I need for fear of being rejected. And when I became braver and more responsible and started to ask, I got a lot more love shown to me. So I got to be wrong about that belief, happenly so. And our relationship took a big jump forward.
Wonderful. To bring this all in, let’s say you’re walking up a flight of stairs with someone and they’re going through some trouble with the relationship and what we can say a romantic relationship or a partnership and you know you’ve got a minute of conversation before you reach your floor.
What would you say to that person?
What is some distilled wisdom or what is a great practice or something that they could do to really start to lean into their relationship more and really dig in and get greedy with things a bit more?
You know a really powerful question is how may I best love you? And I learned this from Teknaham. And he says, it’s important to be with our beloved whether it’s a friend, whether it’s our child, whether it’s our spouse, whether it’s our lover and not assume that we know how they would like to be loved. It’s very different for different people, some people like a lot of touch I admitted i’m a total touch-a-holic. Some people they have to have the words, they want those words of affirmation. I like the words too, that’s my second, well of language my husband says I love me, he says I love you, I say give me the details, honey here are the specifics. In some people it’s tangible, they want the gifts that really means alot to them and some people it’s acts of service, they say talk is cheap, I don’t need to hear that I love you so much, I want you to cook my favorite dish, I want you to show you love me that way.
So there are a lot of different ways that love can be shown, but to be sure to check with the other person and to ask them, what is it that you would like for me? what is it that you need from me?
Hey you know when we wrote book number two, we interviewed the happiest couples we could find. Its “Secrets of Great Marriages” and there were twenty seven stories in there and they’re all different. They’re creative people and so they built a relationship that is just specific to their needs. And one of the people that we interviewed for it, for that book, said,
I strive to be a better husband than I was the day before and I asked my wife “How can I be a better husband to you to day than I was yesterday?”
and she said, “Oh you asked me about that all the time, you’re in that hundred percent I can’t even think of anything else”
And how lovely is that he’s been so committed to loving her in the way she wants to be loved that he doesn’t take it for granted that he knows that he checks in with her.
That’s so beautiful. Well Linda I really appreciate your words of your wisdom and I appreciate the work that you and your husband are doing out there. You have your website bloomwork.com, is that the best place for people to reach you? I know you’ve got a lot of video clips up there, you’ve got links to your books that you have all kinds of stuff, the services that you offer.
How can people find out more about what you’re doing is that the best place?
That place is the best place. There is the phone number on there, our e-mail address is on there, so if people want to communicate with us they can call and they can e-mail. And sometimes people like to get on our mailing list because once a month, we send out a newsletter, we blog a lot and so we pick our favorite blogs and once a month we send them to everybody on the e-mail list as a booster shot of inspiration to keep their well being level up and to remember to take really good care of their relationships and do that kind of devotional practice to the people that are important to them. So they can sign up for our email list, they can join us on facebook, we have our links to the four blog sites we blog for Psychology Today, Psych Central, How do I date and Huffington post and all of our newsletters. And there are all kinds so people can go back and read them if they want a hit of inspiration and they can buy our books on our site, sometimes people like to have inscribed by the author copies that makes it extra special for them and they can get a lot of free teachings from our blogs and our videos right on the site.
Well I know that in prep up to our conversation. I was watching a lot of your videos and gained a lot from what you guys have up on your site. So it’s definitely appreciated, being a husband and a father it’s really inspires me to want to be a better or the best version of myself and show up as much as I can for my partner and for my child and not just be caught up in my own stories and head all the time. So I definitely encourage our listeners to go check out your website because you guys do have so much, there’s so many resources available for people that I think are such a blessing and gift for people who are in a relationship in the world so thank you for that.
Thank you! and if anybody wants to join us for a workshop, we’re teaching from conflict to connection here in Santa Cruz in September and Valentine’s weekend, we teach you desolate in Big Sur and every January we go out to Accra Palu on the in the East Coast in Massachusetts.
Awesome!, Well, wonderful! Thank you so much Linda for being on the show today. I really appreciate everything and maybe we can get you back in talking about more stuff with relationships sometimes. Maybe we can get Charlie on with you some time and I really enjoyed our talk today.
I enjoyed it too. I had a great time. Thank you for having me.
Thank you and for all our listeners out there, thank you so much for listening and joining us today. We hope you have a blessed moment, blessed relationships.
Hey everybody, thanks for listening to this show today. Please go over the iTunes, write a review, and let us know what you think. It helps us in creating new content for all of you. It also helps new listeners get a sense of what to expect from the show.
We really appreciate your feedback. Thanks again for listening. Namaste.
You’ve been listening to the Sivana podcast, to find out more about Sivana, go to sivanaspirit.com or follow Sivana on Facebook at facebook.com/sivanaspirit. For daily inspiration, check out our blog at sivanaeast.com. Be sure to join us next week for a new episode and thank you for listening to the Sivana podcast.
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