Are relationships making you sick? – Optimizing health through sacred connections

We all know how important it is to have a strong and stable foundation of health. We need this foundation to be resilient, supporting the framework of our bodies through times of stress and strain, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually.
 
I’ve defined the foundation of health in terms of AIR (breathing), WATER (hydration), FOOD (nutrition), THOUGHTS (thinking), and RELATIONSHIPS.
 
Here, we are going to take a dive into relationships.
Pointing out the obvious
Some might find it easier to hibernate in a cave for their life, secluded and cut off from the world.
 
Sometimes I actually think this sounds ideal! No stress, no worries, no jobs, no deadlines, no argumentative spouses, no overpowering bosses, no mean siblings. Lots of peace and quiet… But isn’t there more to life? For most of us, I think so!
 
While relationships can offer a great source of Love, connection, and fulfillment, they can also be one of the greatest sources of stress. At this point, we know very well how stress can impact our physiology. Here are just a few of those points listed out to remind you:
  • Decreased immunity
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Weight gain
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Dysregulated blood sugar
  • Pain and muscle tension
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Dysregulated respirations
  • Heartburn / gastrointestinal issues
  • HeadachesInfertility
  • Decreased libido
Stress can be traced back to the roots of pretty much any physical or mental health condition.
 
A newer report says that only 64% of Americans are happy in their relationship. While this statistic doesn’t sound too shabby, apparently this number is increasing.
 
What’s maybe even more alarming is the fact that loneliness is now an epidemic in our world today. According to a recent survey, over 50% of Americans feel lonely. What’s more worrisome is the fact that this number is largest in young people.
 
I can’t help but think that this has lots to do with technology today. Online “social networks” today have become more of an “anti-social network.” While screens, websites, and applications can certainly be used to bring people together, far too often the opposite is true. I know I have felt alone and isolated at times when scrolling instagram, comparing the joy and beauty that I saw to the bleak reality of what was present in my world.
 
While relationship stress in undoubtedly harmful to health, lack of relationship stress may be even more detrimental! Feelings of loneliness and isolation have been shown to be a direct risk factor for premature death!
 
When it comes to supporting a sturdy foundation to your health, it is therefore exceedingly important to create and nurture relationships throughout your life.
 
My most challenging teacher
Maybe you are familiar with the idea of a partner in relationship being a teacher. I think it is beyond a metaphor, in fact an actuality.
 
Like most young men, I had a number of relationships with girls growing up. All were uniquely awkward, each bringing to light a different aspect of myself that I was uncomfortable with.
 
I found myself cycling through girlfriends pretty quickly. Put more accurately, I found myself being cycled through by girlfriends pretty quickly. Despite being the classic “nice guy” (I think!), I was the subject of many breakups. Midway through college, my heart was scarred. After so many breakups, I thought I was largely immune to the emotional hurt that came with rejection.
 
Enter girlfriend number 10, or so.
 
I felt a different draw to this one, much deeper and stronger than ever before. She was certainly a soulmate.
 
To make a very long story much shorter, she came in and out of my life a number of times. Each time she left, I felt more deeply rejected than the time before. But when she returned, I welcomed it. Even though I knew I’d be hurt again, I welcomed it.
 
At last, I was crushed. Wrecked. I hit a new rock bottom.
 
From this deep and dark place, and with new perspective, tools and resources, I was able to finally break free from this pattern.
 
I realized that in a strange way, I was actually addicted to this feeling of rejection. Each rejection offered me a portal to myself, my wounds, the places inside that felt hurt and incomplete.
 
Finally, through a graceful stroke of insight, I was able to give myself the love that I was seeking from another. I was able to simply be with my Self, unconditionally, and acknowledge the beauty of my divine essence.
 
The paradoxical ending to this story is that once I fully experienced my innate wholeness, once I was perfectly content with myself and unattached to ever having anyone else ever validate my worth, my future wife entered my life.
Earth School and Relationship Class
In Earth School, every class is a relationship. Friends, family, lovers, colleagues – every single human in life can be a source for learning and growing.
 
While we may struggle at times in any one of these classes, we cannot fail. We have as many opportunities as we need to succeed, to learn the lessons that are set in the curriculum of life.
 
Today, even in a happy and healthy marriage, issues continue to bubble up. I know this is a true sign of a soulmate – a lifelong teacher. An important ingredient to healthy relationships that my wife continues to remind me of is a light heart. Learning in earth school can seem like a serious and inordinate undertaking. Susanna reminds me that it can actually be fun! In fact, as with most things, earth school becomes easier as we take the pressure off for success.
Toxic relationships
 
Toxins are everywhere in our world today – food, personal care products, cleaning supplies, water sources, air pollution. Apart from living in a bubble, it’s pretty much impossible to escape them. Some of these toxins might even be in your bed! I’m not talking about your mattress or bed sheets (though they may be toxic as well), I’m talking about the human!
 
Relationships are a give and take. It isn’t uncommon for their to be toxic energy in the exchange of a relationship.
 
Just like relating to environmental toxins, there are clean and simple ways to detoxify a relationship. The most potent and powerful tool is honest, open, and compassionate communication.
 
What’s also important is a clear intention, shared by both parties, to maintain a clean and pure relationship through constant compassionate communication.
 
Sometimes, despite our best efforts and clearest intentions, toxic energy persists. When this is the case, it should be noted. It is important to come clear and honest to the truth in this way, understanding the consequences to health and wellbeing.
 
While all relationships are a classroom for learning and growth, you may simply find that you’ve learned all there is to know from one teacher. Only you can know if this is truly the case.
Your Thesis
The most important class, your thesis, so to speak, is the relationship to your Self.
 
The great thing about this most sacred relationship is that every other relationship serves as a mirror to reflect inward, back to the true Self. We are always guided to access expanded self-awareness and heal unresolved issues. This class is one of self-mastery.
 
As you connect with others, triggers and upsets are common – especially if you have really good teachers! As each lessons surfaces, it is an opportunity to look inward. The other half of the relationship helps to shine light to illuminate aspects of your Self that seek healing.
 
It isn’t uncommon to become bogged down and overwhelmed by the demands of life and the relationships therein. Part of every earth school curriculum is a lesson of self-compassion. Treating yourself with kindness and respect, even during the hardest, darkest times, is an essential key to your optimal health and wellbeing.
 
Additionally, extra credit points are offered in earth school when we infuse challenging moments with joy. Bringing the lightness of your heart can add an element of grace to any demanding situation.
 
Through and between relationships with others, feelings of loneliness and isolation may surface. These emotions take on different flavors under an umbrella of sadness or depression. It’s important to know that these feelings are nudging you inward. While it can be helpful to connect with supportive loved ones, we are also invited to connect within. As you nurture the most sacred lifelong relationship of them all, you discover that you are perfect, unbroken, lacking nothing, completely worthy. You will see that this has been the truth since the beginning of time.
 
For me, this was the case during my experience of heartbreak and rejection. Rather than running into a new relationship to seek love and approval from another, thereby perpetuating a pattern, I turned to myself. I gave myself the love that I was seeking all along. I naturally experienced a deeper state of self-compassion. I felt more healthy, whole, and alive than ever before.
In Summary
Here are a few notes to take away…
 
When it comes to your health and wellbeing, take an honest inventory of all relationships to which you invest energy.Consider taking a look into these relationships from a spiritual vantage point, maximizing your learning by seeing every issue or upset as a lesson.Note any toxic relationships in your world, and cleanse them appropriately and compassionately.Allow each and every relationship to point you towards the most sacred connection you have; the connection with your Self.Learn to relate with every aspect that is revealed with the unconditional Love and Compassion that you share with others. As you nurture your connections with others and with your Self, you fortify a foundation of health and wellbeing.
 
Blessings of Health.
Dr. Benjamin
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