Life is a Relation-Ship

Hanna Maria
Mindfully Speaking
Published in
6 min readSep 17, 2020

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Or, an ode to relating consciously and to living kindness

Photo by Diana Parkhouse on Unsplash

What is relationship?
We can look at it as the ‘ship’, the space, in which we sit together with someone or something and relate, for however long or short. We find ourselves in such ‘ships of relating’ not just with our children, our lover, or our friends.

We also relate with everything else that we have a connection to, a touch-point; with everything that is in our life.

In every moment of our lives we are in relationship with something, even if it is ‘just’ our breath and the air, that ‘thing’ that keeps us alive, of which we are mostly unconscious of.

We have a relationship to ourselves and our body. How do we relate? How do we speak to ourselves? How do we see our body? We have a relationship with our ‘stuff’, like books, musical instruments, clothes, cars. We live a relationship with the resources of the earth. Everything we buy and use is made of it. We have a relationship with our neighbours, sharing the same living space. We have a relationship with our work and our colleges. We have a relationship, even if only for a few moments, with the lady at the till, or the child on the street, asking for money.

We even have a relationship to our waste. How present am I with, and how do I respond to there being something I want to ‘throw away’, while there is no ‘away’ here on earth?

All aspects and parts of our biosphere, of life and living are inter-connected. I see it like a wide web of connections. However brief the interaction, there is a relationship, a point in time in which we are weaving a thread together, in which we share a moment, or a breath.

And all the difference is in how I am choosing to relate in such moment with someone or something.
Am I present?
How do I speak and what do I do?
How aware am I — of the other and myself?
What do I see, or perceive?
Can I find the courage to be truthful?
Can I let go and forgive?
How important is it for me, to be right?
Can I find empathy and understanding?

… all this will make a big difference in how the situation unfolds, how it feels and it will impact the outcome.

This difference of ‘how’ I relate fits into seconds. It’s not about time investment. It’s about awareness. To relate consciously does not require more time; it requires more presence in the same time.

My life is a fabric of connections, a landscape of relationships. The way this landscape looks and how it feels to walk through it, partly depends upon how I’ve been showing up in my relationships, which are always a co-creation.

How am I co-forming the relationships that form my life? Which kind of ‘me’ am I mainly bringing into these relationships? How much do I care about the other, how much about myself? — both equally important.

The more presence, care and kindness I can offer into my relationships, the healthier and happier they can be. The healthier the relationships are that form my life, the happier and richer my life is.

Or at least, that’s what it looks like to me so far …

That with which we grow and feed our relationships is what ultimately becomes our reality, because all life is nothing but a web of lived relationships.
What I put in — empathy, presence, truth, acceptance, forgiveness, self-love, etc. — is what will shape the relationship. And that of which the relationship is made of in turn becomes the life I live, the reality I experience.

It also ‘feeds into the collective’. That simply means that

the more people act lovingly, the more loving the world will begin to feel for everyone, and the more people will feel inspired to act in loving ways.
Each action (even a smile) adds a certain ‘colour’ or ‘flavour’ into the threads of connections we are constantly weaving that form Live on Earth.

We live in a world of much disconnection of various kinds, where the many relationships in our lives are ‘ignored’; overlooked, as if they did not exist, nor mean anything; like the ones I mentioned above (our relationships to resources, neighbours, shop-keepers, homeless person, …).

Many are living lives as if there was no connection between how they are in the world and how the world is, and remain unaware of how life responds to them. I find it really important to remember: Every time I am relating (whether to my partner, or my waste), my choices have an impact on the person or ‘thing’ I am relating to.

There is a consequence — to what I say, do, choose, even think.
And from that consequence further consequences ripple outward.

I believe that much personal, collective and environmental repair and renewal is possible when we become conscious in and of the many various relationships that form our life, and when we use that consciousness to choose ways of acting and being that echo that which we want to experience as our reality.

Mostly, change, growth or transformation happens from the inside out. So we can begin by meeting ourselves like our best friend. This means, for example, offering patience, acceptance, forgiveness, appreciation, compassion, … towards ourselves. That alone is a whole ‘journey’, and for many people (like myself) a real revolution!

From there we go outward and, where we can, show up in all our other relationships with that same openness to being kind, caring, empathic and present.

And there it is: the shared joy of caring connection. Yay!

Life just does feel so much nicer when we live from care and kindness, no?

And because this kindness includes ourselves too, living kindness does not mean allowing others to take advantage of me, or putting other’s needs above my own all the time. Neither does it mean not speaking my truth, or standing up for myself, in order to not upset someone else.

Living Kindness can be as simple as picking up a piece of plastic when walking in nature, giving a warm smile to the waiter bringing my food, or being understanding when the cashier made a mistake. (There’s a person sitting, doing their best, with joy and challenges in their lives, just like me).
I have the choice to make a real difference, in this one moment. I can add something like “I care. I see you. I appreciate your work.” into the web of our relating.

From serving tables and sitting at tills in supermarkets, I can tell you, it really does make a difference — whether someone sees you or not, appreciates you or not!

And the really cool thing is: awareness and kindness are for free and living it makes me feel good, happy and …. present.
One of those ‘fun things’ about life that I just love.

Meaning, when you were able to be supportive and patient with the cashier at the supermarket, you will probably walk out with a sense of peace and connection, instead of still grumbling about what went ‘wrong’. You benefit. The lady who continues with the next customer will not be agitated now, because a challenging situation was met with understanding. She and following customers benefit.

If you appreciate meditation and mindfulness practices, you could make ‘relating consciously’ a very real and down-to-earth way to weave your practice into everyday living. Inviting life to be an ongoing lived meditation — a space where I do my best to be present to the moment, myself and the relationship that is currently most prominent.

I always like to remember our ‘tree friends’, who live in well-connected communities, following the Ubuntu principle: I can only be a happy, abundant and healthy tree if the forest I live in is healthy, abundant and happy. Meaning: I want life around me, and my ‘tree neighbours’ to be well. Trees support each other when sick, they feed their young, who can’t harvest enough light yet, they warn each other when ‘tree predators’ are around, etc. Their roots weave a web of supportive connections, making sure, everyone is doing well, or as well as possible.

When we relate consciously and come back to living and embodying the profound truth that ultimately and forever — because everything is connected! — ‘your happiness is my happiness’ and ‘your pain is my pain’ (be it the earth or my neighbour), there will be much healing in the fabric of the forever weaving relationships and connections that form and shape our shared Life on Earth.

Relation-Ship. Good to remember that we’re always sitting in the same boat, with the other. Good to remember that all Life on Earth is sitting in the same boat, together. Life is a Relation-Ship.

Hanna Maria — Cape Town, South Africa
www.embodiedconnection.co.za

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Hanna Maria
Mindfully Speaking

I love the earth! I like to see a healthier and kinder world that honours all life and I know that any change in the world always starts within, with me ...