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Keep Your Spark Growing: Rethinking the Western View on Commitment

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I was traveling to Phoenix to do a TV interview on forgiveness when the news broke that a politician was found to have cheated on his wife. He made a public declaration that he was sorry, and that he was wrong. But the news reports focused on this politician's prior and vocal stance condemning cheaters and infidelity. Needless to say, I knew I was in for some questions!

The sad part is not the fact that a politician cheated on his wife. The sad part is that unless I gave you a date or a hint as to which politician this was, you would probably have no idea who I was talking about. There are too many names you could plug in! Even worse, this has become so commonplace that some of you reading this are probably even saying, "So, what else is new?"

Many of my students have asked: How can we keep the spark in our relationships from going out, as we see it going out in relationships all around us? And why is it that some people (like this politician) claim to be so committed to their spouse and yet have indiscretions? How can some very public figures, or anyone for that matter, one day look so connected to their spouse only to turn around and behave in the opposite way? The answer, I believe, is very simple: We are missing the bigger picture of what commitment in a relationship truly means.

Our Four Bodies

"Look but don't touch," is a motto I have heard thrown around over the years. It is a Western concept that defines commitment in a relationship. The problem with this concept is that it makes thinking about and emotionally connecting with another person OK. It says that as long as the physical body remains pure, it is OK for the mind and the heart to stray. It means that our mental focus and emotional attachment within a relationship are disconnected or separate from the physical.

Let's ask, is this model of "look but don't touch" really working? Not according to the high divorce rates in our society. So maybe it is time to look at a more holistic view of commitment.

We are past the point of arguing over whether or not the mind and body are connected. Research on stress and coping has clearly shown there is a connection between the two. In fact, people more and more are realizing that the mental, emotional and physical are all connected. There are more trainers and speakers than I can count that teach mind/body/spirit concepts.

It is clear that the mind and body are connected in discussion about health and well-being, so why not put this concept in place within the framework of relationships?

You're More Than You Think You Are

Huna, which is a modern label for an ancient system of empowerment for the mind/body/spirit, teaches that you are more than just a physical body. You are multifaceted, and these facets can be explained rather easily. In addition to the physical, you have an aspect that is spiritual in nature. This aspect can be also experienced by some individuals as religious or as higher consciousness. You have a mental aspect, which is your thoughts and focus. And finally, you have an emotional aspect that is your heart, emotions, and feelings. Huna teaches that there is a trickle-down effect in that the spiritual aspect influences the mental thinking, and the mental influences the emotional feelings, and the emotional influences the physical.

Now what about that spark? Papa Bray, the person who taught Huna to my father and in turn taught to me, explained that the spiritual aspect of who you are is related to the mana (or energy) of fire. Fire is the spark. When the trickle-down effect is flowing well, you have a spark in the relationship. This is because the fire becomes focused on your significant other by your mind. This in turn increases the emotions, which when dedicated to your partner allows the energy to connect down into the physical.

When a person enters a relationship, at first the spark/fire is there. But if they make it OK to look and focus (sometimes even sexually) on others, the fire begins to get directed away from the relationship. At first this may not seem like a big deal. However, soon it is not enough to just look, so they begin to emotionally stray. The mental has now trickled down to the emotional, and the person is getting feelings, meant to be sacred in the relationship, from other sources. In the worst-case scenario, cheating can sometimes be the next step when this trickles down into the physical.

Keeping and Growing Your Spark

In Huna, when you would make a vow to a partner, you would make the commitment on all four levels. In addition to making a commitment to keep the appropriate physical connection pure, you would commit to keeping the emotions that are meant to be in the relationship, in the relationship. The looks and thoughts you only give to a partner would only be given to your partner. And you would cultivate the fire or spark to keep it burning strong with your partner.

One of my kumu (teachers), Uncle George Naope, explained to me that in life everything happens for a reason. Whatever happened in the past happened for a reason. Uncle George explained that, in ancient times, there were no judgments in relationships. Therefore, you can take the time now to forgive your partner (even if nothing was done wrong) to focus on your path and relationship.

If keeping the spark is important to you, make a new commitment. You can start by planning a date with your significant other. Take time to make a Huna vow. Commit your fiery spark in your relationship on all levels. Focus your thoughts, emotions and physical desires on your loved one alone. And enjoy the time together.

Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is president of Kona University and its training and seminar division The Empowerment Partnership, where he serves as a master trainer of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), a practical behavioral technology for helping people achieve their desired results in life. His book, The Foundation of Huna: Ancient Wisdom for Modern Times, details forgiveness and meditation techniques used in Hawaii for hundreds of years. He carries on the lineage of one of the last practicing kahuna of mental health and wellbeing. To reach Dr. James, please contact him via his Facebook fan page or his blog.

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