Category: Relationships

Mothering and Daughtering

Tami Simon speaks with Sil and Eliza Reynolds, a mother-daughter team who are leading a revolution to overturn the conventional wisdom that creates rifts between so many mothers and daughters. Sil is a therapist in private practice, while Eliza is a student at Brown University. With Sounds True, they have co-authored a new book, Mothering and Daughtering: Keeping Your Bond Strong Through the Teen Years. In this episode, Tami speaks with Sil and Eliza about ways we can heal the mother-daughter bond especially during the difficult teen years, the essential tools that both mothers and daughters need, and what it means for mothers and daughters at any age to “keep it real.” (66 minutes)

Relationship as spiritual practice

My husband and I recently attended a talk that Bruce Tift gave at the Shambhala Center in Boulder titled Relationship as a Path of Awakening. Bruce Tift, LMFT, is a private-practice therapist and instructor at Naropa University here in Boulder. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that Bruce is also a Sounds True author with an amazing audio program titled Already Free.) In his talk, Bruce discussed at length the both magical and disturbing nature of intimate relationships and how important it is to continually nurture and accept one another, while simultaneously and unabashedly encouraging growth. He highlighted common relationship patterns that he often sees in his private practice and helped trace them back to childhood—namely survival skills that we established upon first connection with our mothers, which no longer serve us. It should be noted that Bruce was not talking about survival skills which could be considered obvious reactions to abuse or neglect from a parent. Instead, he was referring to seemingly innocent details, such as our mothers’ own self-confidence, and how those nuances come to fruition in our adult lives and inform how we ultimately view the world, connect in intimate relationships, parent our children, etc. For me, discovering how much our lives are perpetually infused by even the minutest aspects of intimate relationship was both a beautiful and terrifying realization. How can we ever be fully aware of the implications of our behavior?

In his talk, Bruce also emphasized the need for couples to develop what he calls “healthy intimacy,” which involves building a strong connection, while at the same time fostering a sense of healthy separation. In Bruce’s opinion, the juxtaposition of connection and separation encourages couples to build a sense of individual independence and to shed their own self-limiting behaviors, while also fostering a depth of adoration and understanding for one another and their collective experience. What most resonated for me in Bruce’s talk is that individual development is only as effective as collective development—for in intimate relationship, the two are ultimately one. No matter how much progress we may make individually, if we’re not progressing in step with one another, our collective experience will be perpetually fractured. While this has always been obvious to me when it comes to goals and alignment related to our outer life—finances, health, travel, family, etc.—I’ve never viewed our inner spiritual goals as those that require the most attention and ultimately make our relationship work.

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As relative newlyweds, my husband and I are continually exploring relationship and the role that intimate relationships in particular play in one’s practice or personal growth. While people typically rely on those closest for nurturing and support, it is also those close to us who are best equipped to cast light on all our shadows. But how do we strike the balance between building the nest and deconstructing old patterns? How can we encourage one another to be vulnerable and to break our hearts wide open in relationship, while simultaneously using that same openness to examine and cast each others’ skeletons out of the closet? How do we prevent the very delicateness that we create within intimacy from also being used against us? In Bruce’s words, how do we negotiate the hard fact that our most beautiful and unconditional relationships can also be the most disturbing?

Love under the surface

One of the things I have been starting to notice is the “secret language of love” that can be felt under the surface of what is happening. I am noticing it with friends, with Sounds True authors, and with co-workers and with all kinds of people. I am calling it “secret” because it is not spoken about or acknowledged; I find myself noticing the feelings of love but not voicing them for fear that I will seem inappropriate or out of context or that there is no basis for me to be having the types of feelings that I am having, so better to just keep it to myself.

I can give a concrete example: Recently, I traveled with two co-workers to California to video record a lecture series. We met at the airport and spent 5 days basically glued together working on this project. One person in our group is a producer who has worked at ST for 13 years. The other is an audio-video technician who has worked at the company for 10+ years (interestingly, before this trip together, I knew both of these people had worked at ST for quite some time, but it was all a blur to me. I only found out their actual longevity at the company during this trip). And during this trip, we all found out a lot about each other, about each other’s personal lives and families and early upbringing. The curious thing to me was at the end of 5 days I felt so connected and bonded with these two men who work at Sounds True. Previously, I had been in short conversations with both of these people, in the hallways, in meetings, at Sounds True parties.  But we had never spent any real time together, let alone three meals a day for 5 days, traveling and working as a closely-knit team.

The experience made me reflect on what it must be like for people who play on sports teams together or even people in the armed forces or other groups of people who work closely with each other in intense, collaborative settings. I felt in my core how “tribal” I am by nature, how instinctively I become part of a group or pod. And most importantly, the huge amount of love that is potentially present right below the surface between me and other people if I am willing to take some time away from the “task orientation” that I usually bring to work and instead simply listen and tune to what could be called “the relational field.”

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And what I am finding is that whether it is through dreams (night dreams as well as day dreams) or spontaneous love eruptions that I feel in my being, there is so much love under the surface in so many of my interactions with other people, interactions which on the surface appear fairly tame and functionally-oriented. Underneath, there is a wild, upwelling of heart. It feels risky to say so, but how strange that what so many of us value the most – love—has become something that needs to be whispered or only voiced in socially appropriate ways. I want to sing about it from the rooftops. But since I can’t sing, I am writing this blog post instead.

Why does the love we feel under the surface for so many different kinds of people need to be kept secret and not voiced?  Because we are afraid that someone will think we are being sexually inappropriate or crossing a boundary? What if we could make our sexual boundaries so clear and reliable and trust-worthy that our voicing of the love we feel would not be misunderstood or misconstrued, but instead simply received as the heart’s outpouring of the recognition of how our souls are touching and co-creating. That is the type of wild love I wish to voice.

Brené Brown: The Courage to be Vulnerable

Tami Simon speaks with Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston’s graduate college of social work who has spent the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. Brené is the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Daring Greatly, and with Sounds True she has created the audio learning course The Power of Vulnerability: Teachings on Authenticity, Courage, and Connection. In this episode, Tami speaks with Brené about the cultural myth that equates vulnerability as weakness instead of recognizing it as the greatest measure of our courage. They also examine Brené’s research about the qualities that allow someone to live in a wholehearted way. (66 minutes)

Servant Leadership

Tami Simon speaks with Jim Hunter, a world-renowned business leadership consultant and author of the international bestsellers The Servant: A Simple Story About the True Essence of Leadership and The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle. With Sounds True, Jim has created the audio program The Servant Leadership Training Course: Achieving Success Through Character, Bravery, and Influence. In this episode, Tami speaks with Jim about the keys to leading with integrity and compassion, his best advice for implementing the principles of Servant Leadership in situations where change is difficult, the importance of authenticity in creating strong communities, and the role of love in organizational life. (63 minutes)

Orgasms and Beyond

Tami Simon speaks with Margot Anand, an internationally acclaimed authority on tantra and the cultivation of ecstatic states. A much-beloved teacher on the integration of spirituality and sexuality, Margot is the founder of SkyDancing Tantra and author of The Art of Sexual Ecstasy. Her programs with Sounds True include the 6-session audio course The Art of Sexual Magic: Cultivating Sexual Energy to Transform Your Life. In this episode, Tami speaks with Margot about techniques for harnessing orgasmic energy, how cultural dynamics affect multiple orgasms in men and women, the role of the heart in tantra, and how to use ecstasy as an energy for manifestation—what Margot calls “sexual magic.” (57 minutes)

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