Waking Up Together: Awakened Relating

Welcome to this ongoing column on awakened relationship. I am very excited to share my experience and insights about being awake together in relationship. I am also looking forward to hearing your experience. I hope that we can all engage in a dialogue about this topic, which is an important one for all human beings. I encourage you to post comments, and by doing so, enjoy more awakened relating right here, in community.

Awakened relationship is a topic of great interest to me, one that I have explored extensively for the past twenty years through my work as a psychotherapist as well as through being in a committed, intimate partnership for twenty-two years. For the past two decades, I have also been immersed in nondual teachings. These teachings have deeply informed my experience and understanding of relationship.

I would like to begin this column by defining what I mean by awakened relationship. Actually, I prefer the term “relating” to relationship because relating is dynamic and actual. Relating implies the present moment ongoing-ness of what occurs whereas “relationship” is an abstract reification of a process that has never actually been a “thing.” Therefore, the term relating more easily allows for a discussion from the perspective of nondual wisdom.

I will start by distinguishing awakened relating from “conscious relationship.” The idea of conscious relationship has been around for at least twenty years. This brought about a new level of relating. Intimate partners became “mindful” of their behavior and began looking at their conditioned patterns and aking responsibility for them. What had previously been unconscious and projected on the other was now becoming conscious. Yet it is possible to have a conscious relationship without being awakened to our true nature. Also, a conscious relationship may still be believed to be between two separate individuals—more conscious, but still two. In addition, conscious relationship has mostly been a bout changing and fixing all the patterns we became conscious of, which keeps them reified and appearing real.

Now is the time for relationship to take another step in its evolution into awakened relating. Relating becomes “awakened” when one or both in a partnership have awakened to their true nature. When awakened nondual awareness or being is on board in relationship, that changes everything. Not only is it possible to become more conscious of our conditioned patterns that interfere with harmonious relating, but also it is possible to truly allow them to be as they are. No longer is the focus on changing or fixing the conditioning or each other, but allowing it all arise and dissolve in the vastness of our true nature. This only becomes possible when there is direct experience with nondual being. The presence of our deeper nature provides the safety, wisdom, compassion, patience, love and detachment to make this possible. It is only through resting in being that we can allow the feelings, beliefs, project ions, etc. to arise and dissolve. As that is allowed, appropriate action or communication is spontaneous, obvious and inherently beneficial.

Awakened relating involves knowing through direct experience that the love we have sought in each other is what we most essentially are. It is an awakening to what is already whole and complete—that which lacks nothing, needs nothing and seeks nothing. To truly know that our partner is not the source of love gradually relaxes and dissolves all the ways we don’t allow ourselves and others to be exactly as they are, which is what true love is all about.

In my own experience, direct knowing of this truth has allowed me to let my partner be as he is, more and more through the years. When there is no need for him to be a certain way in order to get love, then he can be allowed to be as he is. And, when that does not happen because I begin to believe a story about him needing to be different in some way, that becomes obvious. I am fortunate to be in a partnership where both people are committed to embodying what is most true. Therefore, it just takes one of us reminding the other of what is true, and most often it is dropped right there. It becomes easy and effortless when there is a 100% commitment. Yet, it was not always that way! Embodying the truth of our being in intimate relationship is an evolutionary leap and challenge. I believe that it does take a 100% commitment. It must be the first priority, and our nondual nature must be rested in and relied on with whatever arises, no matter what. Challenges with this are what I am interested in writing and dialoguing about in this column.

I invite you to bring your own experience and questions so we can explore this together.

About Lynn Marie Lumiere, MFT

Lynn Marie Lumiere, MFT is a transpersonal and somatic psychotherapist with over 20 years experience in private practice. She has been actively involved with the community of therapists exploring nondual wisdom and psychotherapy for 15 years. Lynn Marie is one of the authors of the first book on that topic, The Sacred Mirror, Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy. She is also co-author of The Awakening West, Evidence of a Spreading Enlightenment. www.therapyforawakening.com

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22 Responses to Waking Up Together: Awakened Relating

  1. Hi Bob,
    So nice to hear from you! We miss you and all the VF group too. Thank you for staying in touch and for sharing my work with the group.
    Sending you lots of love,
    Lynn Marie

  2. Bob Bartz says:

    Hi Lynn,
    Would like to be at the satsang, but can’t get away. So I did the next best thing and checked out Undivided’s website and read your column on non-dual relating. I really liked it; so I sent links to our VF Conference Call group. Really miss you and John. (He popped up on my slideshow screensaver today and made me realize how precious you guys are.

    Metta and much success next sunday.


  3. Irion says:

    Bob Bartz says: May 15, 2013 at 12:52 pm
    Lynn Marie Lumiere answers: April 20, 2013 at 9:11 am
    How did you manage that? To answer Bob 25 days before he made his comment 😉

    Anyway, what I can find troublesome in a relationship is when one of the partners goes into a pain-attack and becomes a whining 2-year old and forgets everything they ever knew about Oneness and Being.
    The Pain-Demon does not want to hear bout Advita or anything that doesn´t concern their own Ego and how sorry they feel for themselves because they are sooo wonderful and everybody else is terrible and hostile.
    It´s so fascinating to see how one can forget everything one knows.
    What can you say in such a situation?

    • Dear Irion,
      Yes, “pain- attacks” can lead to forgetting the Truth one knows. This is the challenge of embodiment. It is one thing to recognize the pure Awareness that we fundamentally are, and it is another to emphasize and rely on that in relationship and daily life.

      The challenge of relationship is to keep the focus on ourselves. Your judgment of your partner is a form of “pain-attack” also. Did that result in you forgetting what you know about Oneness and Being? Your only responsibility is to commit to remembering that within yourself–no matter what your partner does.

      The most we can do for our partner is accept them exactly as they are. This is facilitated by resting again and again in the Aware Space that underlies all of our pain-attacks. We don’t have to wait until they pass to do that. They are essentially the same Awareness. Rest right in the midst of it, and allow your natural compassion and acceptance to flower.

      I invite you to continue the dialogue.
      With love,
      Lynn Marie

      • Mina Martini says:

        Dear Lynn and Irion,

        Beautiful reply Lynn! To be alert and attentive to oneself is the only ‘solution’ to a problem that does not then exist in the first place! -Yes, interesting, at the moment any experience of a separate self in us arises, (which is hurt really isn’t it) only then can we judge the other. The judger was never separate from the judged.

        I gather commenting replies to others is also allowed. If there are some regulations against it, (which I doubt 🙂 ) then let me kindly know.

        Love to you both

  4. Mina Martini says:

    Dear Lynn,

    I am so fortunate to have come across this article of yours, forwarded to me by my friend Per Götberg.

    All that you say sinks into me without any interpretation, any thought. Indeed, one with you and your words.

    Very good, love the word ‘relating’ instead of a relationship, for the latter describes something static which is not what a living relationship can ever be about! To talk about relationship suggests, does it not, that it would be some separate thing standing on its own, independent from the real act of relating to each other at this moment. But it very much seems to me that only the act of relating is true, the other just an image.

    Loved also how you distinguished between ‘conscious relationship’ and ‘awakened relating’. Yes, ‘conscious relationship’ may still happening in duality, both partners obviously more willing to question and acknowledge their own conditioning, but that is still not the same as relating to one another in freedom where one is not even conscious of any problems or unresolved issues. 🙂 It could be however, that being conscious in the way described here may be a necessary step, even if still a relative one.

    There is something I would like to share with you. I have rather recently divorced from a long marriage of twenty-three years. The divorce appears to have been a consequence of my spiritual awakening, and that i consider the point worth exploring.

    Of course, if fully awake, it is impossible have any expectations of, or demands for ‘change’ in the other. One has no idea of how anything should be, so no idea of change either. What my husband was (or what he thought he was with all the expressions that a mind caught in duality is able to do) was embraced in silence instead. However, not only was he not willing to share this absolute need for ‘the evolutionary leap’ as you put it, but he also started consciously and in any way he could, to try to prevent that from happening, to drag me into unconsciousness with him. Threats, accusations, judgement, attempts to provoke fear, all the manifestations of a divided mind clinging to itself and trying to pull others to the same uncosnciousness with it in order to feel ‘safe’ and ‘peaceful’, became more and more intense as i became more and more unaffected by the ways of the mind and its limited intentions.

    His experience of not being able to affect me with any of that made him even more desperate, even more reactive, so that now he is almost psychotic in all the mind manifestations etc. which are all projected onto me who is perceived to be the one and only cause for all his suffering, and i have been forced to cut any connection with him.

    Yet my heart is with him, you understand. Yet every time he calls now and i have to reject the call, my heart silently blesses him. And now that i do not hear all that sickness of the mind in him, what i see and feel in him is only space and love even if he has not discovered that himself. This is because i am unable to cherish impression of him, ideas of him, no matter what he is doing at the level of the mind. Taking him as a example but of course this is applicable to all others also. Yes, feeling the true nature of him that his mind so frantically and neurotically is trying to cover and deny.

    I am writing this dear beautiful Lynn to point out that it may not be possible always to stay in a relationship and that the ‘leaving’ may not be a matter of reaction, of ‘wanting something else’. It IS sad, but i feel that in order for the 100% commitment you talk about, that commitment must be shared with another, or otherwise it cannot fully flourish and be the radical change the world so desperately needs.

    What do you say?


    • Dear Mina,
      Thank you for your insightful response to my column. Yes, it is not always possible to stay in a relationship. Sometimes leaving is the right thing to do. However, it IS possible to maintain a 100% commitment to Truth, even if our partner does not share this. Nothing is truly an obstacle to the deeper Truth of who you are, and its flourishing, unless you believe it is. As you commit to allowing everything to be as it is and emphasize the deeper underlying Awareness over all the mind phenomena, these seeming obstacles vanish on their own. This eventually reveals that the pure Awareness is ever-present, in all situations, no matter what.

      I invite you to continue this dialogue.
      With love,
      Lynn Marie

  5. Erin Reese says:

    dear Lynn Marie:
    Thank you for this engaging and important column. I look forward to reading more from you on this topic!

    Can you say more about relating in which one partner is awakened to their true nature, and the other partner is not (either in the case where the partner has no interest in awakening, or, they are still seeking)?

    Kind regards,
    Erin Reese

    • Lynn Marie says:

      Dear Erin,
      If one partner is awakened to their true nature and the other is not, you can still be committed to your own awakened relating moment to moment. As you rest more deeply in your awakened nature repeatedly, you will gain the clarity, compassion, and wisdom to know what to say, or not to say to your partner. When we rely on the source of all Wisdom, it will provide us with whatever we need to relate to anyone in a kind and harmonious way. If we rely on our conditioned mind, we just get the same old reactions.

      If you do not have support with this from your partner–or even if you do–it is important to get as much support as possible. I am plugged into a support system for nondual awakening that I engage with daily. There is no such thing as too much support. We are all very entrenched in the conditioned mind, especially in relationship, and need all the help we can get with staying awake.

      Feel free to ask any questions or give further comments.
      With love,
      Lynn Marie

  6. Per Gotberg says:

    Thank you Lynn for this inspired reading!

    What you say about awakened relating also holds true for “awakened family therapy”. I would say that therapy/healing takes place as you meet in communion and any sense of separation is dissolved into silent understanding. This silence may utter words, act and speak but it never loses its connection with wordless understanding. The therapists contribution to this is his silent presence and his allowance to let whatever action manifest that springs spontaneously from that inner silence. It is all about trusting “beings doing” rather than maintaining “doings doing”, if you see what I mean? Relating is a movement in the unknown, in wholeness, and this relating is a healing process.. Heal, whole and holy is more than just a play with words..

    Warm regards


    • Lynn Marie says:

      Dear Per,
      Thank you for your inspiring words. Yes, awakened relating is a movement in the unknown. It springs forth spontaneously from the silent understanding. Our Being knows exactly how to relate with love and clarity. We just need to truly rely on that rather than our conditioned ideas and patterns of relating.
      Warmest regards,
      Lynn Marie

      • Mina Martini says:

        Dear Per, Lynn and all participants here,

        Per points out that ‘awakened relating’ also hold true for ‘awakened family therapy’ (smile coming now as one writes these words, because if they are seen as words only, they can appear as complicated, even boastful-looking concepts, 🙂 which, however, leave behind nothing but the Unknown when understood in the Unknown 🙂 )

        What Per says is related to what was felt here yesterday concerning the holistic nature of awakened relationship. Its essence is one and the same for all, be it communion between me and Lynn, Per and Lynn, Per and me, plus all/any combinations of all people in the world which i am not attempting to cover in words :-).

        So, there are no borders, no limits. Each specific relationship has its own flavour, as we are all unique individuals, (not in our conditioned images of ourselves but rather in the lack of them), but the essence is the same for all.

        Yes, and this One Awakened Relationship is sheer therapy in the sense that it is healing, discovering wholeness Now, despite or beyond all the past scars, traumas, hurts, fears, agonies, worries, confusion, all that is involved in and maintained by our experience of separation and exist in the past only, in time.

        Feeling so fortunate to be relating to you! Thank you!


  7. Mina Martini says:

    Dear Lynn,

    In your original article you say:

    “Embodying the truth of our being in intimate relationship is an evolutionary leap and challenge. I believe that it does take a 100% commitment. It must be the first priority, and our nondual nature must be rested in and relied on with whatever arises, no matter what. ”

    It comes to be wondered and asked if we are focusing on awakened intimate relationships here, which appear to be a lot more challenging that relationships without a physical dimension. And it is seen that especially because that is the case, there is also an increased possibility to learn through the increased possibility of challenges. It appears that if two people together can truly rely on our nondual nature, as you say, it seems almost impossible that such a relationship could ever break or end. What is there to break or end? This must be reflected in the physical commitment also, beyond the reach of ‘promises of faithfulness’ or ‘marital vows’ etc, which the mind is busy creating in its fear of losing the other. It appears that the very desire to limit and tie IS to lose oneself/the other in essence.

    What do you and others have to say, I am curious to know..


  8. Constance says:

    Thank you, Lynn, for a great essay and for relating as a next level to the relationship concept.

    I occasionally get barnsided and go down. Out the window go all concepts of the awakened state I felt to embody just yesterday. It’s traumatic. I surrender (as though I could do anything else) with a strong Witness presence, and cry and sleep.
    In the background I know this interruption is only temporary. Upon recovery, there’s clearer understanding on the nature of my early life, still embedded in my cells here and there. Huge compassion for my “attacker”, and for the aspects of myself still in process, especially in areas of self-respect. Below the surface of behavior and emotion is a profound knowing he is she is me, blameless accomplices on our journey.

    I’m happy to get away from the verbiage of psychology, pop-psychology and non-duality in favor of more everyday language. I’m at last fully committed to my own awakening through a lengthy, expensive, actively engaging course, whose selling point is to find one’s soul mate (I no longer blush at these words) but it’s the same journey to Self. Thank you, Lynn, for emphasizing the need for support and guidance. It’s what I had most lacked. The work of un-doing is gargantuan, “requiring no less than everything.” It’s also easy, exhilarating, and all there is. How lucky are we to be doing it in numbers.

    • Dear Constance,
      Thank you for sharing so openly. This helps others a great deal. The truth is that the “awakened state” is shining through your eyes at all times. It is always readily available. However, in my experience, it does require “no less than everything” to train ourselves to rest in that no matter what is arising. This is especially true when what is arising is deeper emotional turmoil held in our body and psyche from the past. This is where it is important to get as much support as possible from teachers, therapists, teachings and community.

      What has helped me tremendously is to just rest in what I know to be most true in myself for short moments repeatedly. We can do that for a moment, even when highly disturbed. And if those moments are repeated many times, they become more continuous.
      Lynn Marie

  9. Lynn Marie says:

    Dear Mina,
    It is possible for an awakened relationship to end. Our Essence is eternal and can never be lost, but human relationships come and go. To focus only on the absolute is not nonduality. Nonduality includes everything–including impermanence.
    Lynn Marie

  10. Don Salmon says:

    When we speak of being “awakened” it may help to keep in mind we may have glimpsed an infinitesimal bit of what Krishna was teaching Arjuna **early** in Chapter 2 of the Gita (which, by the way, is 18 chapters long).

    Or we can use nondual language to fool ourselves into thinking that such distinctions don’t matter.

    Which of course, is another form of dualism!

  11. I invite you to view our interview with Jean Klein on Youtube talking about this subject.
    My Best,

  12. Gail Storey says:

    Thank you, Lynn Marie, and all of you for your insightful comments. In an awakened, ever-awakening relating with my husband of 25 years, I found much in your column that resonated. The present arena of awakening for me has to do with a dimension of my work, not with the people involved, but with some confusion over what is driving its expression–ego or Awareness. There’s an exhaustion that may be springing from old egoic drivenness, or from the birthing of a new awakened relating to work in the world. I would be grateful for any clarification you might offer, if this isn’t outside your focus. And if it is, perhaps you might suggest someone who illuminates it? Thank you.

  13. Mark says:

    “To truly know that our partner is not the source of love gradually relaxes and dissolves all the ways we don’t allow ourselves and others to be exactly as they are, which is what true love is all about.”

    I’ve noticed it works both ways, you might endeavor to be the “source of love” and of course that doesn’t work too well, at least in the context of relationship. Still, there may be this longing to make an offering if you will, so I wonder if you might speak to that Lynn Marie? It seems to me there is something beyond just being exactly as you are, an inspired creative potential to bring in something new.

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