It's the Relationship That Changes You by Sophia Chang

In counseling psych grad school we took a yearlong class exclusively on therapeutic communication. The most important lesson we learned was that the client healed not from some specific technique or information - but from the relationship with the therapist.

In fact, one of the most healing things that could happen was the inevitable therapeutic break: when the therapist messes up and doesn't say what the client needs to hear. At this critical juncture, the therapist has the opportunity to hear the client's hurt, to make amends, and let the client be cherished as vulnerable - often for the first time in his/her entire life.

This is life changing.

We come from families where our needs and feelings were squashed. We had no model for healthy communication and even fewer examples of how to listen.

To have someone see your pain - to witness your wound - and non-defensively hear your feelings provides a kind of wholeness that is sublime.

relationships that heal

Harville Hendrix and Helen LaKelly Hunt, seminarian Ph.D.'s and pioneers of relationship therapy, hold in their groundbreaking book, Getting the Love You Want: A Guide for Couples, that the very purpose of relationships is to complete our needed healing and development.

Relationship is the context in which you get healed…and we think couplehood is the most powerful source of healing there is.
— Harville Hendrix

They've since expanded their theories and practice to include all kinds of relationships.

This, of course, applies to the the most important relationship in your life - the one between you and Spirit.

letting love change you

We were made for intimacy. That is how God lives in us.

It is how God relates to us, and how we're to relate to ourselves, each other, and the world at large. Every connection is meant to change us in some way - to open us up, to heal, to teach us something that no other way can.

Smile, It's Just Spirituality by Sophia Chang

Photo by Megan Pangan

Photo by Megan Pangan

Ten years ago I took a ballet class in West L.A. I was still a night owl and the class was on a weekend, in the morning, much too early to be doing tendus.

The instructor called out the counts, looked at the frown knitting my brow, and said cheerfully, "Relevè, and then smile - It's just ballet!"

We burst into laughter.

As humans we can make ANYTHING a life or death matter if we tried - even pliès. But frowning and furrowing our way through isn't a comfortable method - or an efficient one, whether we're dealing with dance steps or religion.

Yes, spiritual wholeness is a serious concern (my main one, in fact), but we're not going to convince anyone of that by going red in the face. And you certainly won't get there yourself by stodgily refusing to have a sense of humor about it.

When my ballet teacher reminded us we weren't performing brain surgery, he did more than break the class tension. He shook us out of rigidity and into ease. He took our pressures and expectations off the dance, and let us release our bodies to do what they were perfectly capable of doing all along. 

Plus he let us have fun while doing it.

I don't discount the power of a single smile to turn a day around. Or the lightness of a heart to touch another heart - and possibly turn someone's life around. 

In the very least, it can make the ride go just a bit smoother. And isn't that one step closer to the very peace we seek?

Which Direction Are You Praying In? by Sophia Chang

Some people have this view of me as fearless and independent. From the outside I understand it: I had purple hair at my Harvard interview, I travel solo, and I've been known to depart from a crowd when I preferred a different activity - sometimes trailing fellow renegades.

But from the inside looking out, I've almost never called myself independent because of this: 

I spent so much of my life worried about what people thought of me. 

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