Have you ever been to the Hot Springs? If you have, you remember how great it feels to be standing neck-deep in the warm, caressing water letting go of all your daily concerns, feeling weightless, held by something so powerfully stronger than you are?
If you haven’t experienced it, I hope you’ll have a chance one day. For now, just let your imagination take you there.
Standing in the warm bubbling pool, caressed by the element so powerful that it has not need to assert itself. It is just there, all around you, holding you so you can let go.
Have you ever tried forcing your will on this element as you stand in it neck deep? Have you ever tried to get to the other side of the pool by running? How fast can you move? About as fast as the tortoise, correct?
Oh, you could swim of course, but that would be accepting the rules of the water. Doing it on your own terms, however, the way some of us like to do things, by wading through whatever life throws our way, by overpowering it, by ignoring the flow… not so easy, is it? Suddenly you find yourself barely able to move at all. Even if you are a skilled athlete, a runner, even a triathlon champion.
Not here. The rules are different, and you can either flow with the current, in which case it will hold you and gently deliver you to wherever it is that it is taking you, or - you can continue to fight the current, in which case it will be an exhausting and most probably losing battle.
And even if you succeed after all that struggle, wouldn’t it have been better if you hadn’t sustained all the losses you did on the way to your success?
By now you may be wondering where I am going with this metaphor.
Imagine yourself on vacation in the Hot Springs with your loved one.
There you are, standing in each other’s arms, being gently held by the warm caressing, bubbling water. Your eyes are closed, your thoughts are floating away, you are losing all sense of time and space, being transported …
Now notice your arms around your loved one’s body. And also notice his or her arms around yours.
How tight is your embrace? Are you gripping each other or holding each other gently? Is one of you holding on stronger that the other one or are you exerting the same pressure? If your hold is tight, how long until you release it and let your arms just be there, touching the other one lightly?
Why am I asking you to do this mental exercise in the midst of this bliss?
Because this quick “pay attention” moment will show you so much about yourself and about your relationship.
Do you honor each other and each other’s space? Do you respect and honor each other’s freedom? Are you attentive to each other’s needs? Do they matter to you more than your need to be together? More than your fear of being alone?
The way you are being in the water with each other is a perfect demonstration of how you are in life with each other.
Are you gripping too tightly? Are you suffocating the other one with your “love?” Are you being suffocated by them?
Do you feel you have to hold on with such force? Why?
I once knew a woman who was very much in love with her husband. And yet she couldn’t sleep in his arms at night. As they would turn off the light and settle into their sleeping poses, she would always move away from him as far as she could, so that he could not hold her. “I can’t fall asleep, unless I can toss and turn by myself” was her explanation which she believed to be true and which he accepted without a problem since he had no reason to doubt her love.
Years passed and the marriage that had started so happily began to falter and eventually fell apart. They divorced and after a few years the woman met, fell in love and married another man.
To her utter amazement, not only did she not feel any need to move away from him in bed prior to falling asleep, but quite the opposite. She could never sleep close enough.
“I press my body into his back as closely as I can every night,” she told me. “I crave this, I still do, after all these years. It is the best moment of my day, the perfect way to fall asleep. I feel such peace, such contentment. We can sleep like this all night, with me - glued to my husband and his arm gently reaching over to my side.”
“And yet you told me you couldn’t sleep next to your first husband, even at the time you were so in love with him,” I said.
“I am still puzzled by this,” she answered. “I believed I needed space around me when I slept, but apparently I don’t anymore.”
As I thought about this later, the reason for her different experiences became more and more apparent. I had a chance to observe both her marriages and I knew both men well.
In her first marriage, her husband took care of everything in their life. She was not treated as his partner, but more as a child. He commented on her every move and was involved in everything she was doing.
She could never make a decision on anything without his approval or even permission.
Night time was the only time she could escape his “loving” grip. Thus she couldn’t make herself sleep in his arms.
In the second marriage she and her husband are equal partners. It is a very harmonious and naturally flowing relationship. It is probably among the best I’ve seen: two adults loving each other and honoring each other’s needs.
And so – she can’t wait for the night. For the intimacy of shared sleep. The miracle of it. The safety and peace it brings her.
Think of this example as you take your mind back to the Hot Springs.
Standing neck deep in the caressing water, holding your loved one in your arms.
Notice your hands and relax them. Loosen your grip. Let go of your fear. Hold each other in your love, but don’t hold too tightly. Let your heart, not your fear, be your guide.
Listen with your touch and let your touch be light.
And feel your loved one begin to very gently move closer and closer to you. Don’t pull them close, don’t help them move. Respond by moving towards them with the same gentle speed. And experience what it feels like to know that they are coming to you solely out of their own desire.
Because there is no place they’d rather be.
And the moral of the story?
If you don’t want to lose the love - set your love free.
If you want to keep your love - let your love breathe.
Let it inhale - and then – exhale. Let it wax and then – let it wane. Love is alive and it has its own rhythm. Let it come to you out of its own desire, in its own time.
Control the love – and you will kill it. Let it be free - and it will blossom.
Let your embrace be light.