Chameli and I just got done with the most incredible week in Greece. We met with 22 single people and couples for an all-out, nothing-held-back dive into the exploration of the Deeper Love. I think this was really one of the best weeks of our lives together.
The incredible beauty of the island of Corfu made this a magical experience, as well as meeting two or three times a day to explore relationship as worship. We also enjoyed one of the most beautiful beaches I’d ever seen, fantastic Greek food and hospitality, a clear blue Mediterranean Sea, and deep relaxation and fun. We’re be doing the same retreat again from June 9th to 16th, 2012. If you think you might be interested, you can let us know today. See Below.
During the training we played a little game called “ding.” We’ve discovered in seminars that most people get relatively little value from about 90 percent of the seminar, and then their entire life turns around because of the other ten percent. For some people it might even be 97% to 3%. There are just those brief moments when everything lights up, and when you get the insight that changes everything forever. We call those “ding” moments: we encourage people to stand up, wave and be generally disruptive every time they have such a moment.
Today I am going to share with you the mega-ding moment of the course: the insight that was most powerful for most people. Beware, this blog could end up a little longer than usual.
Its all about how blueberries can save your relationship.
So let’s start at the beginning. Every morning at 6:30 am I would wander down slowly through the olive groves, past the crowing cocks and the little whitewashed houses, each with their own vegetable garden, to the beautiful beach. There we would meet every day at 7 am for 75 minutes of Chi Kung. If you are not aware already, Chi Kung is an ancient system for energy balance and flow that originated in China more than 5000 years ago. I have studied Chi Kung with Mantak Chia and Lee Holden for the last 13 years. I offer some basic forms with people in workshops.
One day in Corfu I did a little demonstration on the beach, for everyone to see. I used the art of kinesiology, or muscle testing with a volunteer. He extended his arm out for me, and I asked him to resist my downward pressure. Like this we could measure his level of core strength. First we could test how adopting certain Chi Kung postures, making changes in the alignment of the body, would cause muscle strength to dramatically increase. But then we did some other interesting things as well. With his permission, I lightly touched him randomly on the sides of his body, so as to create the energetic feeling of distraction and overwhelm. When I tested him again he became incredibly weak. Then, again with his permission, I touched him on points on the front of his body: torso, chest, throat, chin, forehead, to center him, and tested again. He became really strong. This is already a valuable insight, to see how overwhelm and distraction weakens our energy.
But now comes the mega-ding moment.
I asked all of the rest of the chi kung class to stand behind me on the beach, so they could see my back and he couldn’t. I arranged a signal with them. If I was going to see him as strong, I would point towards the sky. This means I would just look at him, without changing my facial expression at all, and see a strong trustworthy courageous brother, someone I knew was doing his very best in every way. Or I would see him as weak, and would point behind my back toward the ground. This means I would just think of him as weak, untrustworthy and distracted.
We tested again. Every time I just saw him as strong, his muscle strength increased more than in any previous test. Every time I just saw him as weak, he lost all his strength. We tested this over and over, and then the participants tried this with each other. The same thing happened over and over again.
Later we reflected on what this means in one of our meetings. You only have to see your partner through the eyes of disrespect, you only have to think of that person as untrustworthy, unreliable, and distracted, and low and behold, they will become exactly that partner that you don’t want. Similarly, every time you see you partner as trustworthy, beautiful, loving, sexy and strong, you have just created your perfect mate. This is the unbelievable, awesome, incredible power of praise or criticism in relationship.
I know, I know. We have to add some caveats right away here! We can’t use this insight to get all syrupy and only say nice things all the time, while at the same time feeling that your partner is behaving like a jerk. You have to have a way to express frustration and resentment when it arises. But here is the key. We know, from our own marriage as well as everyone we work with, that a great deal of our communication can easily focus on the things we don’t want. “The kitchen is a total mess, again, and I hate it.” “We ran out of butter, you forgot to put it on the list, and now I can’t cook the dinner. Thank you very much.”
Even more damaging than that, and tragically frequent, we extend these descriptions of what we don’t want to broad stroke “character assassinations.” “You always make a mess in the kitchen.” “You’re never going to learn.” “I’m done with you, I can’t trust you with anything.” Sounds familiar? Unfortunately, most couples make these kind of statements to each other all the time. The next time someone makes a generalized character assassination like that notice what happens in your body. You might find a hollow, weak feeling in your belly, and a sinking heavy feeling in your chest. These are the symptoms that your “chi” has become weak and disconnected.
So here’s the simple formula: transform expressions of what you don’t want to requests for what you do want. When you walk into a messy kitchen you can say, while connecting with your partner eye-to-eye, “I love it so much when I walk into the kitchen and it’s clean.” Similarly, “when you show up on time for our meetings, it makes me so happy.” Of course this may still feel like a veiled criticism, but trust me, it’s going to have a very different effect on the circuitry of the body than character assassinations.
This may sound impossible because habits run so deep, we live with these energies every day. If you and your partner do slip into criticism it’s not the end of the world, you just need to agree on a quick remedy to turn it around. This is where the blueberries come in.
We made an agreement at that Deeper Love Retreat in Greece, all 24 of us. Couples made the agreement with each other, single people committed to practice this with people at home. And here’s how it goes. Anytime you feel criticized, when your partner has temporarily forgotten the destructive power of criticism, both to themselves and to you, you’re simply going to say the word “blueberries.” That’s all, no recrimination, no analysis, just “blueberries.” You and your partner create an agreement to shift the statement they just made from a complaint to a request, or from a character assassination to three statements of appreciation.
“You left the kitchen a mess again”, becomes “it means so much to me when you clean the kitchen after you’re done each time.”
“You never show up on time, you’re totally untrustworthy,” becomes “There are so many ways I can trust you. You’re a good, kind person doing your best and I appreciate so much that you’re willing to practice the Deeper Love with me.” You may be worried that these statements don’t feel “honest” in the moment. “What I really feel like right now is smacking my partner in the face, I don’t feel appreciative at all.” Honesty can easily be overrated, it has its place but sometimes we also need to connect our speech with what we want to create, instead of being honest about what we don’t like.
There’s one more piece that we all agreed to here. The criticizing partner actually has a choice, when they hear the word “blueberries.” He or she can do one of two things: either transform criticism to requests, and character assassination to appreciation, or hand over ten euro (about $15). There’s something incredibly persuasive about a small sum of money like that. The people who tried this and got back to us reported that it worked like a dream. They hardly needed to use the blueberry code word at all because something deep in the subconscious just learned that criticism was now off the menu, and it stopped happening on its own.
So there you have it, thanks for reading this far. Now you know how good blueberries are for your emotional health.
Perhaps you might like to join us for a deeper love retreat at a future time. We have three Deeper Love courses coming up. We will be near Munich, in Germany this October, in Nevada City, CA this December, and back again in Corfu next June. If any of that sounds good to you, you can reserve a spot, with no down payment, here.
Oh, one more thing, you probably know I’ve been teaching the Awakening Coaching Training in its various incarnations for 16 years now. We’ve just now shifted over to an online delivery with interactive live classes over the web, streaming audio and video, and written material. I’ll be offering a free tele-seminar about the online training this Thursday, July 14th. Please feel free to join me if you’d like to learn more.