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Relationship Boundaries an Ayurvedic Lens

This is a hot a topic at the moment: keep your relationships in check and ensure you have healthy boundaries. This is very good advice but it can swing too far one way. Where we hyper-guard ourselves. No judgement here, I have been on this path and swung into saying yes to everyone, then went the other way and said no to everyone. I’ve learnt a lot along the way. One thing being: always saying “no” is not setting boundaries and was not a healthy balanced way of living.

In Ayurveda your wellness is a result of what you live, you take in the qualities and the energetics around you all the time! This includes the people you are around, the people you have an interaction with, the people you communicate online, everyone around you basically. That is a lot to keep in check right?! So we let ourselves off the hook of trying to keep everything balanced and peaceful at all times, but what we can do is develop our self-awareness and become more attentive to what we need. Here we have informed choices which is empowering!

The Ayurvedic way of setting a boundary:

1. How are you feeling right now? What is your mood/ energy? Chilled and mellow? hot and flustered? Grounded? Ungrounded? …Just some examples.

2. What is “X’s” energy or nature usually like? Are they intense, hyper, easy going, supportive, dramatic, down, unmotivated?

3. What is the exchange in your relationship usually like? The energy of your relationship can be different from your energy and the other persons energy. The relationship itself have its own quality. For example: You and your partner could both be very ungrounded and scatty ( Vata energy) but your relationship is nurturing and stable (Kapha energy).

4. What do you need right now? From observing your current state, will the interaction support you or deplete you? This is not to say we always avoid those difficulty characters in our lives (although sometimes we might need too) but it’s to be more reflective and realise you have a choice. Maybe you feel overwhelmed already, X’s energy is usually intense and your relationship consists of drama and gossip, so you could make the choice to postpone your catch up for when you feel more grounded in yourself.

Taking radical responsibility for yourself and self-care can sometimes seem selfish or feel selfish but from Ayurveda’s point of view: you are a part of the energy of the planet. If you do not tend to yourself, your imbalance will have the potential to ripple out. Likewise, when you are feeling good, when you have made choices that support you, you have a positive ripple effect on those around you and the planet. Everything is in relationship and your number one job is to take care of yourself first, with the understanding that is directly tied into taking care of everyone.

The every-day simple alternative to what healthy boundaries can look like:

1. Saying yes but defining the limits, an example might be: “ Yes I can help you next Monday but only until 2pm.”

2. Saying No but giving an offer, “ I can’t do tomorrow, how about next Wednesday?”

3. Take your time and pause before responding, this is my personal favourite. “ That sounds cool, but let me check my diary when I get home”

The Bhakti Yoga path would give us another perspective: We think our cup is empty, yet we have only forgotten that our cup is always full and overflowing. Therefore, in this context we should always be and feel available to help others. Beautiful, and on the spiritual path this is one of the ultimate states we want to reach, with such an open heart, with such love regardless of the situation, with such trust in the divine, with such awe of every human being because we are all expressions of the sacred. Truly beautiful. But, and it is a big BUT most of us have not devoted our lives to a spiritual life and so our nervous system and psychology COULD go into Fawning, this is a trauma response in the nervous system where we appease because we think we “should” rather than acknowledging what we need. Behaving in a way where we feel we “should” but ignore our own needs is usually coming from a primal part of us that is scared of rejection and even more primal, fearful of our survival.

Can you feel the difference? Bhakti Yogi’s have dedicated themselves to a fully open heart where they see everything and everyone as an expression of God/Goddess. Although we can aspire to this, we as “householders” ( that’s what “normal” peeps get called in Yogic terms) have to go on a dedicated path of studying a spiritual discipline to get to this place, otherwise it could slip into spiritual bypassing, neglecting your own needs. This has really just offered a taste of insight about boundaries, relationships, community, expectations, nervous system and the self. I believe this topic will continue as I have much more I want to say and share. If this interested you or sparked any questions, please let me know, I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, peace and love! x

References and influences:

Elizabeth Earnshaw @lizlistens

Redemption: Kimberley Ann Johnson and Steve Jenkinson

Ayurveda for Yoga Teachers and Yoga Student: Dr. Siva Mohan.

Rādhikā Dās

Photocredit: Sam McNamara

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