…being Of Service in our everyday lives.
I was recently lucky to be back in the gorgeous setting and powerful grace of the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, CA. This is the place that originally sparked my passion for bodywork and the healing arts, and I’ve had so very many magical, enlightening and heart-opening experiences, conversations and serendipities here over the last twenty years…
Soaking in their beautiful natural hot springs under a canopy of shooting stars, I got to talking with a relationship counselor beside me. After practicing couple’s therapy over forty years, I asked him what he believed were foundational to creating an exceptional, deep and lasting relationship. His answer was this:
Knowing yourself. Truly, knowing yourself. This means spending time alone… thinking, feeling, contemplating and spending regular time free from expectations, responsibilities and roles in order to feel and experience your wild, natural self. It is only when you truly know yourself, grow grounded and comfortable in your own skin and become confident on your unique path will you be able to give and receive at a deep and true level. Knowing yourself and what makes you come alive is step one.
Communication. Once you know yourself and what you need to be happy and thrive, how well do you communicate that to your friends, partner, family and the world? You must be willing to own and abandon your old tricks, distractions and the many ways we humans hide from being honest with ourselves and others. Being able to safely speak your truth, share your dreams and be vulnerable is the key to healthy, functional relationships and living.
51% Service… this notion is my favorite, and has lingered with me ever since. According to this therapist, the most successful, loving couples are willing to put their partner’s needs ahead of their own 51% of the time. The more I thought about this — and expanded the idea out to not just include our romantic partner, but ALL people and interactions — the more I fell in love with this inspiring idea.
People stop me on a regular basis to ask why we all seem to be so happy at Soulstice. Besides hugging, massaging, meditating and cracking each other up a lot, I have come to believe it’s because our amazing team of therapists, teachers and guides lead with their giving hearts and spirit of service, not just in their work but in their everyday lives. You’d think this 51% concept might be exhausting or unfair, but in reality it’s the opposite — living every day from a place of giving, appreciation and being of service to each other has a contagious, vitalizing effect. When you feel safe, cared for and held by everyone around you, it makes you feel generous, full-spirited and more openly giving in return.
When we live in devotion of others and outside of ourselves, it’s so much easier to be happy. Needing to get your own way all the time is way more challenging than making someone else happy and a one-way ticket to a life of regret. Focusing on someone else’s needs and devoting yourself to the service and benefit of another creates a cycle of positive energy, love and fulfillment that I believe is the essence of why we’re all hanging out here together on this beautiful spinning globe. The more fully we can trust and give to each other, the more we will create a freer, more fulfilling and joyful personal world and planet.