I love you. I need you. I want you. I cannot live without you.
All of us at some point in our lives have said or thought words like these. At the time they seem very real, as though this new person is the magical missing ingredient to make us whole. In fact, how did we manage to survive without them until now?
A few months later, just the opposite can feel true.
Leave me alone. I cannot stand to be around you. You drive me crazy.
This experience of “falling in love” is one of the most dramatic and powerful roller-coaster rides that many of us ever experience. It is more exciting, and pumps more adrenaline and endorphins through our bloodstream then bungee jumping or skydiving.Romantic love can also be the cause of our greatest suffering and disappointment.
Back in 1995 (Wow! That is 21 years ago!) I wrote a book called Relaxing into Clear Seeing, which includes a process called “Meeting the Beloved.” I must have conducted this session with hundreds and hundreds of people over the last two decades. It is a very simple way of taking the longing for romantic love and turning it inward instead of directing it outward.
Here is a quick synopsis of how it works:
The coach asks the client to lie down (and to wear earphones if the session is being done on the phone). Then the coach guides the client into a state of deep relaxation: something like mild hypnosis. The client is then guided to imagine herself in a place in nature. She describes this place out loud, and then is encouraged to walk down a path where the foliage becomes richer, deeper, thicker. The smells become more luxurious and the flowers become brighter. Sooner or later she comes to a clearing and sees that someone is standing there.
Because this session is usually conducted after talking about romantic love, what shows up in the clearing is often a romanticized, idealized image of what she longs for in romantic relationships. In some people it is very vague and hazy, just like a shadow or an image completely out of focus. For other people it is very sharp and precise, as real as meeting a living human being. For some people what shows up is an old boyfriend or girlfriend, in which case we must go through a process of completion, and then perhaps move to another new clearing, deeper in the forest to find the Beloved.
On one occasion, I worked with a woman who was in her mid twenties. She had never had a relationship. She was still a virgin and had always felt too shy and awkward to make any romantic connection, although she really wanted to. When I guided her along the path, she ended up in an industrial wasteland full of junked out cars and toxic waste. She looked around and there was definitely absolutely nobody waiting to meet her. I could hear in her tone of voice that she was not surprised. But I hung in there with her and we waited for a while. Finally towards the end of the session, a little boy rode up to meet her on a bicycle. He was only six or seven years old, and he carried a letter he had been asked to bring her. She opened the envelope and read the message. “Don’t give up. Wait for me.” She was ecstatic. I did several more sessions like this with her, and each time the image of the Beloved became clearer. Then, low and behold, she met a man, and a few months later they got engaged.
Whatever happens in this session of meeting the Beloved is an interesting and fairly reliable barometer of the client’s relationship to romantic love. When everything goes smooth and easy, it is a fairly reliable predictor that everything will go smooth and easy with romantic relationships in the outer world as well. If it is sticky or complicated or hazy, it is a sign that we should do more sessions together until it begins to feel clear and easy.
Once she meets the Beloved, they enter into a dialogue together. She might tell him how much she longs for him, how angry she feels that she has had to wait so long, or even how afraid she feels of coming closer and become intimate. She can tell him what she wants to give to him, and also what she wants to receive. She can share with him her vision of romantic relationship, and she can listen to his replies. This kind of meeting usually goes on for 15 to 20 minutes, and it builds a solid template for having healthy relationships in the outside world. Finally they embrace. She feels his energy merging with hers. When she brings her attention back to the room where she is lying, she feels more integrated and whole, she feels more loving and she feels more loved.
For a coaching client who is single, doing a session like this — once or repeatedly — makes it much easier and more likely to develop a healthy relationship in real life. Have you ever been to a party when you felt lonely, doubting if you will ever connect with anyone every again in a real way? Those are usually the times when things do not go too well. On the other hand, have you ever been to a party when you were already in love, but you did not take your partner with you? You feel satisfied, whole, complete, and you are overflowing with good feelings. Many people say those are the days when everybody wants to be your friend, everybody wants to dance with you, everybody wants to take you home. The Beloved session works like that: It creates an experience of fullness, an overflow of loving feelings that are generated within yourself. Most importantly, it has a powerful effect on what happens afterwards in your daily life.
We also do this session with those who are in a relationship. We encourage people not to meet their real life partner in the forest, but to meet the Beloved as an archetype. It takes the pressure off their relationship, letting their partner off the hook for having the exclusive job of providing happiness. Real relationships in the outside world go much more smoothly when you have a way of generating a feeling of well-being within yourself.
I made a 30 minute guided meditation of meeting The Beloved, way back in 1998, with luscious music, specially composed by Constance Demby. It is available now as a download on iTunes for less than $5. You can pick it up here. If you do get a chance to listen to the meditation, come back to this page afterwards and let me know your experience in the comments box below.