I love practicing Ayurveda because it truly is a holistic form of medicine. When I meet with a new client for the first time, I don’t just ask them about their symptoms. I ask them about how they are feeling, what they are thinking, and how their relationships are. My clients are often surprised when I explain that their relationships are a key factor in regard to their health. Allow me to elaborate: Your stress levels affect most every function in your body, including immune function, digestion, reproductive function and sleep. When we are in a constant state of even moderate stress, it can negatively impact these systems. If left untreated, stress eventually can lead to disease.
Now ask yourself, what are some of the things in your life that cause you the most stress? Perhaps it’s your job, perhaps its finances or perhaps it’s a strained relationship with a spouse, family member, friend or coworker. It’s not realistic, or even beneficial, to expect a relationship in which there is never any conflict. Relationships are a powerful catalyst for personal development, and without some conflict we will never grow into our full potential. However, there is a way for this conflict to be productive rather than destructive.
The most important thing to keep in mind during our interactions with others is that we are all viewing the world from our own unique perspective, and we are all trying to do the best we know how. When we remember this it opens us up to becoming more compassionate.
Key Elements of Productive Relationships
Compassion: When we introduce the element of compassion into any relationship, it helps us look at the person in a different way, especially during times of conflict. No longer is this person the enemy, but rather, they become a fellow human being who has feelings and emotions, just as we do.
Empathy: Remembering that everyone is experiencing the world from their own point of view, we can introduce the next element of empathy. To empathize with another, we take a moment to put ourselves in their place; to experience the world as they see it, and through that, to understand the driving factors behind their behavior. If we truly take some time to do this, we may be surprised by what we find.
For example, the boss you can’t stand who is always barking at you may be experiencing something that is very stressful in his own life, which carries over into how he interacts with others at work. While not condoning his behavior, when we see where it’s coming from we won’t react as harshly to his outbursts.
Non-judgement: Now that we know that everyone is coming from a unique viewpoint, who are we to judge what is “right or wrong”, “good or bad”? By maintaining a non-judgmental perspective, we can put the other person at ease and allow for the next element to develop.
Communication: When we truly listen to another and begin to understand how they feel, we can communicate in a way that will better resonate. For example, if you are in a heated argument with your spouse and you accuse her of something, she will likely get defensive. No one wants to be attacked.
However, if you communicate from a place of love and compassion, and express how you are feeling in a non-threatening way, she is more likely to respond with love and compassion in return.
So often, we get caught up in our own world and misjudge situations based on our own biases. By taking the time to be present, open and non-judgmental, we can start to see things as they really are. And through this, we can cultivate deeper, more meaningful relationships, as we view our role as one that is meant to support and nourish, rather than defend and destroy. And through the cultivation of more harmonious relationships, we can experience lower stress levels and better health. Who doesn’t want that?
Article originally published in Natural Awakenings Rockland County, Feb 2017 edition.
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