Our Journey with Conscious Loving
We met each other 22 years ago through a couples group called Couples Sojourn. It was initiated by a mutual friend, Kaariina, who invited us to use the book Conscious Loving by Drs. Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks. Our first meeting was in the woods at Kaariina’s home in Quebec. A lovely setting, near a lake on the side of a hill, lots of windows, hardwood-floored, open concept kitchen-great room. An inviting space for us to begin learning to be fully together without giving up ourselves.
Kaariina invited numerous couples to explore together and we all expressed our reaction to the invitation; some positive and some negative. In the end, nine of us committed to diving into the ideas of journeying to co-commitment as presented in Gay and Kathlyn’s book. These nine included the two of us, Marlene and Rabia, and our partners, Bob and Hasan.
The group met over a period of a year and a half, once a month for 10 hours partaking in delicious and healthy vegetarian food. We took turns facilitating the processes in Conscious Loving; sharing, expressing, moving, breathing, and supporting each other. We gathered in a circle with a talking stick (a sacred aboriginal tool) sharing where we were at and practicing authentic expression of our feelings without interruption or blame. We felt amazed at Gay & Kathlyn’s commitment to one another and knowledge of healthy relationship and the amount of play and communication skills they had created.
The book and the experiences in our group led some of us to deepen our relationship while others faced the truth that their relationships were over. Throughout the time, we became close, felt safe to be able to speak our truth, enjoying how other’s experiences were similar to what we were going through, how interconnected we were, how universal the issues were and how our ah-ha moments rippled through the group. There were tough times when the group hit its upper limits. Again and again, Gay & Kathlyn’s brilliant and heart-centred work brought us back into flow.
We were particularly struck by the concepts of commitment and re-commitment, the microscopic truth, making agreements, learning to love ourselves, the upper limit patterns and allowing more pleasure into our lives. None of us had any training in how to communicate about our feelings. Instead, blaming, defending, judging, withholding and projecting were our familiar patterns. We learned gradually to communicate directly, letting go of power struggles and learning to express ourselves in creative positive ways that were unarguable.
Over the years, we have used the concepts in Conscious Loving to re-commit to our relationships, to journey through our friendship together, to grow personally and in community. Bob and Marlene re-wrote their wedding vows to share them before a group of friends in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary, with Rabia and Hasan acting as witnesses. When Hasan had an affair, all four of us used the concepts and processes from Conscious Loving to clear the air and re-commit to intimacy and harmony. 10 years after being introduced to the Hendricks work, Marlene and Bob jumped into closer connection with Gay & Kathlyn by joining the Conscious Living and Loving community, and a few years later Rabia joined as well. She learned that taking full healthy responsibility for her 100% shifted her relationship with Hasan. It wasn’t about teaching him or coaching him or needing him to join the Hendricks community. Both of us have created relationships that have joy and openness, ability to express and listen generously; vital partnerships which enhance our energy, creativity and happiness.
We feel blessed with so many moments of self-discovery as well as learning something new about each other and how to be in conscious relationship as friends and partners. Thank you to Gay & Kathlyn for leading the way and introducing us to a new way of loving and living.