Relationships on the Spiritual Path
Are you noticing that your relationships are struggling as you deepen your spiritual journey?
Do you find that you resist growing spiritually because you’re afraid it will ruin the stability of your marriage, your friendships, and your family peace?
Are you unconsciously using your spiritual practices to “spiritually bypass” conflict or intense emotions in your relationships?
Are you curious about how your relationships might become an intentional, alchemical spiritual practice?
In the past, spiritual life often meant withdrawing from intimate relationships. If you wanted to walk the spiritual path, you became a nun or a monk or a priest. You left your family and moved into an ashram to go follow a Guru and devote your life to God. Human relationships were seen as an obstacle to the spiritual path. But times they are a-changing. More and more of us are being called to use intimate relationships as the vehicle to spiritual life rather than abandoning intimate relationships in favor of
If relationships can be such a beautiful portal to Divine connection, why are those on the spiritual path struggling so much in relationships?
For many years, I’ve watched so many people who are on the spiritual path
If you’re committed to the ascetic path, that’s great. Everyone is entitled to their own journey. But if you sense that your journey is meant to deepen through your experience in relationship with others, this program is designed to help you facilitate that catalytic process, navigate the pitfalls, and open your heart and your capacity for intimacy as a gateway to the Divine.
This program is for you if:
In this program will be diving into some advanced and possibly confronting topics, so PLEASE READ THIS SECTION THOROUGHLY and take it to heart.
This program is NOT for you if:
This Is a Program about Love
We can’t talk about relationships on the spiritual path without talking about love, but we’ll be talking about it differently than the way many talk about love. The way our culture teaches us about love has been wildly distorted. In Power Versus Force, David Hawkins, MD writes:
“Love, as depicted in the mass media, is not love. On the contrary, what the world generally refers to as love is an intense emotionality combining physical attraction, possessiveness, control, addiction, eroticism, and novelty. It is usually evanescent and fluctuating, waxing and waning with varying conditions. When frustrated, this emotion often reveals an underlying anger and dependency that it had masked. That love can turn to hate is a common concept, but what is being spoken about rather than love is an addictive sentimentality and attachment. Hate stems from pride, not love. There probably never was actual love in such a relationship. [Real love] is characterized by the development of a love that is unconditional, unchanging, and permanent. It does not fluctuate because its source within the person who loves is not dependent on external conditions. Loving is a state of being. It is a way of relating to the world that is forgiving, nurturing, and supportive. Love is not intellectual and does not proceed from the mind. Love emanates from the heart. It has the capacity to lift others and accomplish great feats because of its purity of motive . . . Love takes no position and thus is global, rising above the separation of positionality. It is then possible to be One with another, as there are no longer any barriers. Love
When I first read this, I breathed a sigh of relief. Ah . . . yes. The false love is what breaks our hearts over and over. The real love—the unconditional kind—is rare and beautiful and deeply fulfilling. It connects us to Source and reminds us who we really are. Even when it shows up as tough love and fierce grace, the kind of love that sets boundaries and says “Hell no,” the heart remains wide open. This is Divine love, the kind we all crave. This is the love that heals and transforms. This kind of love will dismantle you and strip you to the core essence of Who You Really Are. This kind of love, not just for others, but for yourself and for the Divine, is a guidepost for how to navigate relationships on the spiritual path. But where in our culture does a love this big fit? Those of us who are parents or pet owners know it’s easy to feel this kind of unconditional love for your baby or your dog. But where else does it belong? And how do we put it into practice? What would it mean for our culture if we all loved each other this expansively? These are just a few of many questions we will be exploring in this program, which will be more about deep inquiry than lectures or answers. We will be entering the mystery together and exploring the leading edge of what is happening in relationships among those who are committed to the spiritual path.
Warning: You Will Be Transformed
If your soul rings out “Hell yeah! That’s me!” then I invite you to consider joining us for what is certain to be a rich, deep, controversial, potentially explosive, seriously ass-kicking and soul-nourishing journey into the beautiful, messy, sacred, gorgeous arena of Relationships on the Spiritual Path. Please be forewarned. This program is not for the faint of heart. If your primary priority is maintaining the status quo, staying in your comfort zone, and doing whatever you can to avoid rocking the boat, you won’t want to sign up for this program. This program will transform you, and true transformation means you will not be the same when you finish this journey.
We will be entering into the territory of the unknown,
Exploring Unknown Territory
As spiritual teacher Adyashanti says, “Faith is taking refuge in the unknown.” As my spiritual mentor Rachel Naomi Remen says, “We trade mystery for mastery, and it’s a bad trade.” Relationships are a mystery and if we’re willing to humble ourselves before this mystery and allow relationships to transform us, we leave ourselves open for miracles of unconditional love, radical self-acceptance, seemingly impossible acts of forgiveness, and mystical states of union with the Divine, not just the transcendent Divine, but the Divine within another human being and within ourselves.
We will be entering into sometimes uncomfortable territory during this exploration. You may feel challenged, confronted, and nudged out of your comfort zone. You will be loved big and hard and invited to love others big and hard. You will not be able to prioritize your relationships at the expense of your own truth anymore. You will not be allowed to ignore your relationship with yourself or with whatever you call the Divine Beloved. Instead, you will be engaging with a mystical curriculum, getting a degree in unconditional love as a spiritual path. How that will look will differ for each of us. Your journey is your journey alone, though you will walk this path in good company with other pioneers and pilgrims.
Why Is Lissa Facilitating This Program?
I am not a therapist or a relationship expert of any kind. I am a woman who has been divorced three times, and I have a littered past of serial heartbreak. I have struggled with my sexuality for most of my life, explored a “polyamory experiment” that left my heart quite weary and embattled, and lost many relationships that I cherished. I have been in therapy for almost a decade, and one therapist said, “You are a doctor, so it’s in your nature to do CPR on dead relationships.” She was right. I have been trained as a doctor—not even a psychiatrist, but an OB/GYN and mind-body medicine physician. So it is in my nature (and my childhood conditioning) to have a “savior complex,” to overgive, to try too hard, to attempt to force relationships to continue when they have simply run their course. That has felt like
If relationships are meant to be my spiritual path, I welcome it—and you can too.
The most common questions I get asked from my online community are “Relationships on the Spiritual Path” related questions. When I work one-on-one with my mentoring clients, it is always the juiciest area of inquiry and deep inner work. When I engage with workshops, it is often the most sensitive topic that arises from the space of deepest vulnerability and trust. Even on my blog, where I’ve been writing a Relationships on the Spiritual Path blog series, this topic lights a fire under people.
In private emails, people reveal things they’ve never confessed to anyone before. It touches my heart that people trust me to disclose their deepest secrets, even when I have no credentials and no mastery around relationships. It has helped me to realize the gifts that I offer—my ability to hold space for what is true for someone without judgment, to love from my heart, to offer care and compassion when someone is suffering, to be vulnerable and be with someone else’s vulnerability, to accept whatever arises, to hold sacred space for someone else’s emerging soul wisdom, to ask transformational questions that make us all feel deeply, to illuminate the hidden growth edges within us, to initiate disruptive discourse, and to facilitate difficult conversations in a way that helps people dive into the essence of both light and shadow.
Perhaps my greatest gift is that I am, as described by one of my physician clients, “an amazing person magnet.” I have the ability to magnetize into my sphere the people who know more about the areas of inquiry I find myself exploring than I do. This online program will very much depend upon this particular gift. I will be calling upon those I love and trust, the mentors who have helped me, as well as the people I’ve been intimate with, the ones who have been my greatest teachers. I will not be positioning myself as any sort of expert during this program. As is usual for the way I lead, I will be a student among you, facilitating an exploration that I am still very much learning myself, and I will be calling upon the wisdom of those who have more mastery in this conversation than I do, including those who will surely arrive as “students” in this class but who will have as much to teach as to learn. I am humbled by the wisdom that arises in communities like this, and the format of this program will offer you all an opportunity to be both students and teachers.
What Does This Program Include?
Relationships on the Spiritual Path was originally launched as a live program and included a lot of audience participation as we dove into inquiry together. This is the edgiest, most controversial, intimate, and vulnerable group program Lissa has ever facilitated. It is also—in Lissa’s opinion—one of the richest, deepest, and most filled with genuine, pure, unintellectualized love.
We have repurposed this program as a
In this module, we’ll be dialoguing about what it even means to navigate relationships as part of a spiritual path. How is it different than engaging in relationships when you’re not on a spiritual path? What happens if one person is on a spiritual path but is in
When we enter into marriage, we promise to stay together until death parts us. But is this kind of promise possible when two people are changing over the course of a lifetime? What happens if two souls learn what they are meant to learn together and then find it is time to part ways? What about loyalty? What about using the difficult times that inevitably arise in relationships to be a crucible of transformation and an exploration of deep intimacy? How do you know when it’s time to stick it out and let your ego and your pride be dismantled by the relationship, and how do you know when to choose self-respect and the freedom of the unbridled soul by leaving the relationship? What if you are committed to a relationship but it becomes abusive? What if your values fly in the face of what is being asked of you by your soul? Is there a way to avoid the temptation to go “all or nothing” in intimate relationships? Can you dial a relationship up when trust is solid and dial it down when trust is betrayed without ending the relationship or violating your own boundaries? In a culture with a 50% divorce rate, how might we deal with commitment, marriage, family values, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to return to love without sacrificing the integrity of the soul or limiting our spiritual growth? Such will be the deep inquiry of this module, facilitated by Lissa and depth psychologist Anne Davin, whose experience living in an indigenous community while married to a tribal member of the Taos Pueblo informs her views on relationships and who also brings much depth, mysticism, interest in feminine spirituality, and experience as a therapist to the conversation.
Anne Davin, PhD is a licensed psychotherapist and executive leadership coach with 25 years of clinical and organizational psychology expertise. She received a Doctorate in Depth Psychology (which is the study of the soul) from Pacifica Graduate Institute. Her dissertation research, was inspired by her life as a young wife marrying into Taos Pueblo, a Native American tribe, and focused on the role of psyche and culture in the marginalized voice of the feminine. Presently, Anne directs the nation’s largest comprehensive systems change project for the California State Department of Education. Anne resides in Marin County where she also maintains a private counseling and coaching practice for local and international clients.
When you’re deeply committed to the spiritual path, you may find that others really don’t want you to wake up. Maybe your entire friendship was built on eating ice cream together, but now you’re committed to conscious eating and you’ve gone vegan. Maybe all you did was gossip together, but now you’ve gotten out of your victim story, and it doesn’t feel good to gossip. Maybe you were the perfect key wound to his lock wound, but now you want to heal the wound instead, and he doesn’t. What do you do? How do you save those relationships? There’s a conscious way to commit to your soul path without alienating your entire social circle, but even when you navigate this process with supreme sensitivity and consciousness, you may find that those you love are dropping off faster than you can handle the emotional
Joan Borysenko PhD, is a distinguished pioneer in integrative medicine and a world-renowned expert in the mind/body connection. Best-selling author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, her work has been foundational in an international health-care revolution that recognizes the role of meaning, and the spiritual dimensions of life, as an integral part of health and healing. Eloquent and inspiring in settings that range from hospitals to hospices, from theaters to conference venues, and from boardrooms to houses of worship, she is a credible bridge between faith and reason. Her brilliance, humor, and authenticity—in combination with the latest research—make her a compelling and inspiring speaker and writer.
Dr. Borysenko is the author or co-author of 13 other books and numerous audio and video programs, including the Public Television special Inner Peace for Busy People, she is the Founding Partner of Mind/Body Health Sciences, LLC located in Boulder, Colorado and the Director of The Claritas Institute Interspiritual Mentor Training Program.
When we are committed to the spiritual path, it is a common mistake to inadvertently apply spiritual principles to how we navigate relationships in a way that can actually harm us or damage the relationship. Psychologist Robert Masters,
Robert Augustus Masters, PhD, is an integral psychotherapist, relationship expert, and trainer of healing professionals. His work blends the psychological and emotional with the spiritual. He holds a doctorate in Psychology and is the author of 14 books, most recently Emotional Intimacy and To Be a Man, and numerous essays. In 2000 his essay “Wrathful Compassion” won the Editor’s Award for the best article of the year in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. In 2011 Robert and Diane established the Masters Center for Transformation, a school through which their work and teachings can be optimally shared and embodied.
So many on the spiritual path find themselves without a committed romantic partner. Why is this? How do we deal with the longing for union with the human beloved when we’re still without the partner of our dreams? Calling in The One and Conscious Uncoupling author Katherine Woodward Thomas will help us explore a series of questions that relate to conscious co-creation in relationships. Is finding “The One” all about attracting the right person? Or is it more about becoming the person who will magnetize the Beloved? Do we need to practice our “law of attraction” practices? Or do we need to surrender and let go of attachment to outcomes? Or both? How do we avoid the ego’s desperate grasping for that which we desire so deeply without demonizing our deepest desires? How do we surrender this yearning to the Divine and trust Divine Will even if it means being alone? How do we consciously hold both the vulnerability of the longing and the trust in surrender in paradox, avoiding the tendency to either force the wrong relationship into being or the tendency to use the spiritual bypass to skip the pain of the deep longing? Is there anything we can do to facilitate calling in “The One?” Or are we meant to let go completely and give up our dream of partnership in resignation? Is the story of “The One” outdated, or is a new story emerging that allows us to have many “The Ones?” One Facebook reader asked the following question. “One of my greatest challenges is dealing with this idea floating in the self-help yoga spiritual world that if you do all the internal work and you are ready, then your soulmate manifests like magic, the implication being that those who are partnered are more spiritually evolved and those of us who are single are just lousy on the spiritual front. I resent this idea so
Katherine Woodward Thomas, M.A., MFT is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Conscious Uncoupling: 5 Steps to Living Happily Even After and the national bestseller, Calling in “The One:” 7 Weeks to Attract the Love of Your Life, a licensed marriage and family therapist, and teacher to hundreds of thousands of people from all corners of the globe in her virtual learning communities.
She is the co-creator of the Calling in “The One” and Feminine Power online courses, as well as certified coaches trainings, the originator of the Conscious Uncoupling process and creator of the Conscious Uncoupling online course and certified coaches training. To date, Katherine has trained and certified hundreds of coaches in her highly transformative work.
Katherine has appeared on The Today Show, the Mike & Juliet Show and Good Day L.A., and her work has been featured in the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The London Times, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, People magazine, Women’s Health and many other media outlets throughout the world.
The story of the romantic dyad is a strong program in our culture. Boy meets girl, they get married, and they live happily ever after without ever being attracted to another, without being tempted sexually, and without ever falling in love outside the monogamous union. Or boy meets boy, girl meets girl, and they enjoy monogamous bliss. But this idea of “The One” doesn’t seem to be working so well for many in our culture. Half of
Ted Esser has been the Director of the Spiritual Emergence Network (founded by Stan and Christina Grof in 1980) for eight years. He has had training and experience with several spiritual traditions in both hemispheres, with expertise in the areas of lucid dreaming, kundalini, nonduality, altered states of consciousness, and other things transpersonal.
He is an Adjunct Professor teaching graduate-level Consciousness Studies and Transpersonal Philosophy, Theory, and Research Methods courses at Sofia University (formerly the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology) and Consciousness & Dream Studies courses at John F. Kennedy University.
He holds BA & BFA degrees in Communications (New Media) & Photography (Video Art) from the University of Washington, and an MA in Philosophy & Religion (Philosophy, Cosmology & Consciousness program ) and a PhD from the East/West Psychology program (Consciousness Studies track) from the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. He is married with three children in Marin County, CA where he has a spiritual counseling practice.
When Lissa and Dennis met at a Christmas party at the Institute of Noetic Sciences in 2013, the two scientists had no idea what was about to hit them. Within a month of meeting each other, they entered into a mystical realm neither even thought was possible. Laws of physics were being broken. Experiences they didn’t understand cognitively were happening. Dennis, who woke up psychic, channeling, and paranoid, ran away, scared that Lissa had put a spell on him. Dennis’s “spiritual emergency” became a gateway into a relationship others have described as a “twin flame” or “
It’s easy to practice our spiritual values when we’re in the honeymoon phase of a relationship. But what about when things get rough? What if things don’t go as planned? What happens when we grow apart or experience betrayals and conflict? What if it’s time to break up? Is it possible to break up and stay in love? Is it possible to navigate the minefields of divorce without turning into raving lunatics who forget our spiritual practices when we become afraid and feel threatened? What if you’re going through a divorce and you’re committed to unconditional love and forgiveness, but your partner is trying to screw you? What if the legal system is making you forget everything you learned from your spiritual teachings? What if you’re so reactive during a
Tosha Silver graduated from Yale with a degree in English Literature but along the way fell madly in love with yogic philosophy. For the past 30 years she has taught people around the world ways to align with Inner Love. She’s the author of Outrageous Openness and the recently released Change Me Prayers: The Hidden Power of Spiritual Surrender. She lives near San Francisco, where she runs an online school about these ideas called, “Living Outrageous Openness: Think Like a Goddess”. This offers an ongoing way to support those who truly want to live these beautiful, ancient practices. She particularly enjoys finding fresh, funny ways to invite and embrace the Divine, while avoiding conventional jargon and cliches at all cost.
She particularly enjoys finding fresh, funny ways to invite and embrace the Divine, while avoiding conventional jargon and cliches at all cost. She loves how the sacred and the mundane are truly One. The guidance from the Inner Divine begins to lead when it is sincerely invited . . . by anyone.
As our culture wakes up together, the nature of relationships is changing, and this can be confusing. Fewer and fewer relationships fit in the old boxes established by the patriarchy. Does marriage still make sense, or is it part of what Charles Eisenstein would call “the old story?” Is the story of “The One” still valid? What about relationships that don’t fit in a culturally acceptable box? What if you love someone deeply and the love doesn’t fit in a standard checklist of appropriate relationship models? What if you’re married and you fall in love with someone who isn’t your spouse? What if someone has no blood relationship to you but you feel like they’re family? What if you’re so intimate with a friend that it goes beyond the average friendship? What if you’re straight but you feel an erotic charge with someone of the same sex, or what if you’re gay and you feel
Private Facebook Group
You will be invited to join a private Facebook group where you will have the opportunity to dialogue on Facebook during the live modules, and the team will be screening this dialogue to follow the flow of the direction of the dialogue on the live calls. You will also have the opportunity to dive deeper into these conversations together and to interact with one another in between calls. You never know where new friendships, romances, and soul tribe connections will arise!
BONUS Module 1: “Expectation Hangovers” in Relationships
Led by Lissa and Christine Hassler
If we’re all supposed to meet “The One” and live happily ever after, stay close with all our family members, cultivate friendships that last a lifetime, and be in conscious relationships with all our colleagues, how come life is so full of disappointment in relationships? How do we
BONUS Module 2: Sacred Sexuality
Led by Lissa and Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD
In many Western religions, sex is perceived as profane, while spirituality is sacred. Sex happens below the waist, but spirituality happens above the neck, right? Yet this sexuality/spirituality split happens more in the West than in the East. In many Eastern cultures, sex and spirituality are seen as inseparable. Most likely, you have at least glimpsed this possibility in your own sexuality, when the borders between two humans can dissolve and you feel yourself becoming One with another human being, when you gaze into the eyes of your beloved and you see God or Goddess, mirrored back to you through the eyes of Love Itself. How can we be separate from God when we are coming into such deep union with another human being? Why has the church threatened to cut us off from sexuality as an ecstatic path to the Divine? What would it mean if we embraced sexuality fully as part of our spiritual practice, not just in sexual union with another, but in our own masturbation practices? What if we can make love to the God within ourselves in a conscious way? As a physician, wife, and co-author of The Multi-Orgasmic Woman about Taoist sexuality with Mantak Chia, Rachel Carlton Abrams will surely have many gifts of wisdom to share with us as we dive into this stimulating, sexy territory together.
BONUS Module 3: When Death Doesn’t Part You
Led by Lissa and Kris Carlson
What happens when you love someone so deeply and with such a purity of heart connection that you cannot be cleaved, even by death? Heart Broken Open author Kris Carlson experiences this ever since her husband Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, died unexpectedly a decade ago, leaving behind his young wife and two children. How do we handle it when death doesn’t end a relationship? How can we navigate the loss of a loved one in a conscious way? If love never ends, why does it hurt so much to lose someone’s physical presence? How do we allow the heartbreak of grief and loss to break us open rather than shut us down? When you’ve experienced repetitive heartbreak, whether through death or breaking up, how do you keep the heart open and resist the temptation to lock down the heart? How do you avoid what Brene Brown calls “foreboding joy,” that tendency to shut down your joy because you can’t stand the vulnerability of how much you have to lose? What does it mean to keep giving your loved ones permission to break your heart, even when you’re experiencing so much pain? What if your dead loved one still communicates with you? Does that mean you’re crazy or in denial, or is it true that love never ends? When is it time to move one and let go? As conscious, evolving beings of love, how can we handle the pain in a way that grows us, rather than contracts us? We’ve all lost loved ones, whether through death, abandonment, or rejection. These painful soul lessons are potent opportunities to move through the pain, to let the pain course through your body and your heart like waves of the ocean, and to let the pain soften the soil around your heart so your heart can blossom.the pain, to let the pain course through your body and your heart like waves of the ocean, and to let the pain soften the soil around your heart so your heart can blossom.
BONUS MODULE 4: The Divine Feminine & The Sacred Masculine
Led by Lissa
What does it mean to be a conscious man in support of the Divine Feminine? What does it mean to be a woman moving beyond the “profane feminine” shadow into the archetype of the Divine Feminine? When the feminine is rising, how can men step fully into the masculine in a way that doesn’t further support the out of balance patriarchy? What about those with gender fluidity? Is it all about biological gender, or are we all meant to balance the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine within us? Let’s explore this sometimes touchy subject of gender roles with consciousness, openness, curiosity, and the willingness to not know.
BONUS MODULE 5: Calling In Your Soul Tribe
Led by Lissa and Lisette Schuitemaker of the Findhorn Foundation
Relationships aren’t just about two people. They’re about networks of people who come together and exchange as cells in one larger body of humanity. When we are socially isolated, our nervous systems go into 'fight or flight’, the body’s self-healing mechanisms are disabled, and we become prone to illness, depression and what the shamans call 'soul sickness.’ Loneliness is the #1 public health issue in our society right now. Yet we have a choice. In this module, we’ll dive into inquiry around this topic. What lies at the root of loneliness? Why is it possible to feel lonelier when you’re surrounded by crowds of people than when you’re alone? If social isolation is bad for the body, what about introverts? Is it better to be in community? And what about living with the “wrong” people—is that an option or is it preferable
We’re confident that you’ll be completely satisfied with your investment in this program. That’s why this program is backed by our personal, 14-day 100% satisfaction guarantee.
You have a full 14 days to participate in the program, and if, after 14 days, you're not fully satisfied, you can just let us know and we’ll process a complete refund of your purchase price. Simply contact our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not sure whether this program is right for you, we suggest you surrender it to the Universe, then pay attention to any guidance that shows up. We trust that your body’s wisdom, your intuition, synchronicity, your dreams, messages from other people, and other forms of spiritual guidance will help you know whether this program is right for you. Trust yourself and don’t let the Gremlins talk you out of what your heart knows is true for you. We trust that the right people will be drawn into this soul tribe. If you’re one of them, WELCOME!
With love and gratitude,
Lissa & the Relationships on the Spiritual Path crew