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SPIRITUAL GROWTH AND PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS - ARE THEY COMPATIBLE?

· Wisdom I Insight

As active meditators, we can be quite comfortable alone or left to our own devices for long stretches of time. Solitude is no longer scary. The "need" for a romantic relationship can sometimes be replaced with personal fulfillment and a contentment with life just as it is. It's a pretty sweet place to be. While we look to stay focused on personal growth, is it fine to remain single and let that be where our time and energy is invested? Or, what happens if how we feel about our single status changes? For some of us, we reach a certain point in life where partnership becomes important (i.e. the desire for marriage and kids or even just to experience companionship). It is here that our personal growth may become tied to growing with someone else.

Do we choose to remain single in an effort to maintain
a deep and growing spiritual life or does our spiritual life become
enhanced with the introduction of relationships?

The answer to this question is "Yes, and..." It's not black and white because each of our paths are unique and shift over time and circumstance. We hope that wherever you fall on this conversation, or if you're like many who dance between these two opinions depending on the day, there is something in here that resonates with you. Since everyone's got love on the brain this month for Valentine's Day, we'll start with those looking to get boo'd up soon or are currently in a relationship.

The key to keeping your connection with your significant other or including your soon to be boo on this journey of self-discovery with you, is to keep them in the loop! Let them know what you're excited about and what small things you've noticed along the way as you grow. It seems like a simple thing to do, but so often when we grow personally we tend to grow separately from our partner. Being happy by yourself can sometimes make the other person feel insecure. There's an acknowledgement on their side, even if on an unconscious level, that they are no longer needed to fill this capacity in your life. And if you're just starting out with someone, there's an unspoken understanding that a partner is a "nice-to-have" rather than a "must-have" in your life. If the age-old adage that our significant others want to feel needed is true, then you can see why at first glance a fulfilling spiritual life can cause conflict.

At the end of the day, you growing personally doesn't mean that there isn't still plenty of room for relationships in your life. In fact, the more we tend to our personal growth, the more whole, happy and healthy we become as individuals. We then take this offering to our significant other (or to the ones that are in the running for the position) it naturally creates a balance. The other person is no longer put in a position to prop us up, but can now be at our side while we run our spiritual race.

Marriage too can stretch us and help to bring out our best self. Relationships have a pretty dynamic way of forcing us to apply what we're learning "on the mat" (patience, kindness and compassion just to name a few) into our daily interactions with others. It allows the qualities we're cultivating in our spiritual life to fully express themselves in the context of our relationships.

Now, for the single folks. If you are dating, there are a few roadblocks to be aware of as we mindfully seek out potential partners. The biggest culprit - settling for "situationships" that do not benefit our progress. Trust us, sometimes it's better to be alone than to expend energy on dating duds. For this camp, the hilarious 10 Love Habits to Throw Away makes sure that we are composed and discerning in our attempts at finding (and keeping) that special someone. For those singles who are consciously choosing not to couple up in any capacity, know that relationships and companionship are still very possible and fulfilling but may just take different forms. Fulfillment can come from pursuing your spiritual life with singular focus.

No matter where you find yourself on the spectrum from being happily single to craving companionship, remember we are constantly evolving and it's important to give ourselves space to change, room to grow, and continuous permission to focus on our spiritual lives whether we are coupled up or not.

“Any lifestyle - religious life, ordained life, single life, married life - can be about loving deeply. It depends on where you feel called [and] the particular contours of how that love seeks to express itself." -Sister Julie

THE BLACK ZEN TEAM

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