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Cultivating Spiritual Relationships by Liz Whalen

Too often, when we experience pain or discomfort on the physical level, we either look for something to relieve the pain or only look at the clues closest to the surface when trying to determine what’s wrong. What we often fail to realize is that we are multi-dimensional beings, existing on many levels at once, and that each of these levels affects the other – either adversely or positively. This is why it is important to determine the driving force behind the imbalances we face.

Relationships are a key component to our health and well-being, as we spend much of our time interacting with others and these relationships affect us on all levels of our existence – from the spiritual to the physical.

As humans, we exist on five different levels simultaneously, beginning with the physical or Annamaya kosha. Next is the energetic (or pranic) plane known as Pranaymaya kosha. After that is Manamaya kosha, the emotional or lower mental plane; Gyanamaya kosha, the causal or higher mental/intuitive plane; and finally Anandamaya kosha, the spiritual plane.

Positive Relationships as a Key to Good Health

If we look at the different planes on which we exist, it will be clear that relationships with others affect several of these levels. The emotional and mental planes are the most obvious. When something affects us on one of these higher levels, the effects trickle down to the lower levels, many times without our awareness.

For instance, suppose you just had a disagreement with your partner. What begins at the mental level, such as something not fitting with your beliefs, creates an emotional response (i.e., anger, fear, worry, etc.). If these feelings are left unresolved, they are stored, and move down through the energetic level into the physical body. If we don’t process and release them, they stagnate and eventually lead to some form of pain, discomfort or disease.

Emotional Reponses from an Ayurvedic Perspective

In Ayurveda, there are three doshas, or constitutions that combine in different proportions to make up an individual. These are vata – comprised of the air element, pitta – the fire element, and kapha – earth and water. Depending on our unique combination of these three, we may have different emotional responses to situations, including interactions in relationships.

A person who is predominantly of vata constitution often will respond to a situation with worry or anxiety. Someone who is mostly pitta may become angry easily or impatient. A kapha individual may become sad or possessive. By understanding our unique constitution, as well as that of our partner, we can begin to selfobserve and lessen the chance of reacting without awareness.

Take the case of a pitta individual who is about to confront a vata individual. If the former is aware that the latter is prone to react with worry or anxiety, they can rephrase what they were going to communicate in a way that will be less likely to trigger these emotions. In the same essence, if the pitta individual is aware that they are prone to becoming angry or irritable, they can bring mindfulness into the situation and begin to observe their reactions before they create conflict.

Cultivating Compassion through Mindfulness

Through self-observation and compassion toward others, we can bring more harmony into all of our relationships. Being open to understanding how others perceive the world will allow for empathy in our interactions.

All of our reactions stem from past conditioning and pre-conceived notions that we’ve accumulated. In order to be able to see the true nature of things, we must go within and work on ourselves so that we can be more mindful of our reactions.

Some wonderful practices for supporting this effort include yoga, meditation, chanting/mantra, pranayama, deep relaxation and properly caring for our bodies through healthy eating and appropriate exercise. As we work to purify the body and mind through these practices, we come into closer contact with the divine within and allow it to shine forward.

So each time we interact with someone, let us try to see them as a divine being, just trying to do their best in this world. Cast aside all judgments and open our hearts. If a reaction arises, take a step back and observe it. Recognize that it is not this person causing us to feel the way we do, but rather the fear and judgments we are holding onto and then let it go. We are love, so let us be love. And in doing so, all of our interactions will become more spiritual.

Liz Whalen is a certified yoga instructor, ayurvedic wellness coach, Reiki practitioner, and Vedic astrologer. She teaches yoga and meditation throughout Rockland County and sees clients privately at her office located at 466 Piermont Ave. in Piermont. She incorporates multiple techniques in her approach to well-being and designs custom plans to help bring balance back into one’s life. She can be reached at 201-344-4580 or at

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