from BARDO

The stars are in our belly; the Milky Way our umbilicus.

Is it a consolation that the stuff of which we’re made

is star-stuff too?

– That wherever you go you can never fully disappear –

dispersal only: carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen.

Tree, rain, coal, glow-worm, horse, gnat, rock.

Roselle Angwin

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

five guidelines for mindful loving

We know there may be no ultimate irrefutable answers to the big questions to which we as humans have access. We know too that in some ways the process of questioning itself is the answer – the willingness to be uncertain, to take nothing for granted, to be open to possibility,  and to journey (ie to change).

One of the Big Questions, of course, is to do with LOVE: what it is, what it means, how to do it better. Don't we all want to be clearer? Don't we all feel we should have been born with a map to the territory of the human heart, and the right eyes to read it and mind to apply it at all times? And definitely with a roadmap with detailed topography in relation to our Significant Other/s? Don't we sense that there must be some consensus of wisdom from those humans who've spent their lives up that mountain, staring love, its psychology and its ways in the face?

Increasingly I am feeling that the truth is probably more accessible than we like to think; it's the fear of the possible cost that puts us off. I also sense that the guidelines for a well-lived integrated life, and a healthy relationship, may truly be a great deal less elaborate than we feel they are.

So when I stumbled across this, I thought the five guidelines were succinct and possibly useful. I'm not sure they're unique or particularly profound; but that doesn't mean they're easy to put into practice, of course.

Various thinkers have pointed out that love is not some blissful state into which we stumble or fall, but an active verb. This guy's take is similar.

'Most people think of love as a feeling,' says David Richo, 'but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.' In this book, Richo offers a perspective on love and relationship that focuses not on finding an ideal mate, but on becoming a more loving and realistic person. Drawing on the Buddhist concept of mindfulness, How to Be an Adult in Relationships explores five hallmarks of mindful loving and how they play a key role in our relationships throughout life:

   1.  Attention to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
   2.  Acceptance of ourselves and others just as we are.
   3.  Appreciation of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
   4.  Affection shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
   5.  Allowing life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache, without trying to take control.

And I see in another of his books that he also uses the motif of the Hero's Journey as a model for growth and transformation towards individuation and integration, as do I in my book Riding the Dragon (mentioned here before). In case I can tempt you, I will be working later this year – finally – to create a course programme based on the 8 stages of development and growth as mirrored in myth, as I see them.


  1. Great list! Funny how each point seems so self-evident when it's written down but so easy to forget when we (I) get absorbed in thoughts and emotions.

  2. Yes - so easy to 'lose ourselves' in each moment, isn't it?? Thanks, David.


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