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Here is one of the most useful books on relationships you will ever read. This book challenges you to explore the unknown depths of the soul and claim your individuality, while learning to connect with others in a healthy way. The term "comfort zone" describes the internal sanctuary you create by developing and maintaining your boundaries. Only through conscious creation of your comfort zone can you develop the ability to be present in body, mind, and spirit in order to create healthy relationships. Only by ...
Here is one of the most useful books on relationships you will ever read. This book challenges you to explore the unknown depths of the soul and claim your individuality, while learning to connect with others in a healthy way. The term "comfort zone" describes the internal sanctuary you create by developing and maintaining your boundaries. Only through conscious creation of your comfort zone can you develop the ability to be present in body, mind, and spirit in order to create healthy relationships. Only by defining yourself can you connect with others.
Rokelle Lerner addresses the practical issues of maintaining both your separateness and your sacred domain of connection: she explains how you can walk a spiritual path with practical feet. Lerner has filled this book with her clients' personal stories, modeling potential problems that can arise in relationships due to unformed or violated boundaries. You will learn how to stop boundary intruders and boundary distancers; mend the body and soul; deal with shame; heal emotional, intellectual and spiritual boundaries; set limits; unlock bonding patterns; and sustain your comfort zones while you do the soul work required for further personal growth.
This collection of personal stories, taken from clients whom Lerner has cared for in therapy, models potential problems that can arise due to unformed or violated boundaries, and shows steps taken to heal painful situations. Lerner includes checklists to identify "hot spots" in one's own relationships and boundaries, plus step-by-step instructions for improving the relationship.
WouldnÆt it be wonderful to live in a world where people related with respect and even reverence for all living things? This would inspire us to honor others with a personal sacred space of respect beyond which we would not intrude by word or deed. Without that safety, we will be unable to bring the sacred and the spiritual into our relationships.
The term comfort zone describes that internal place of sanctuary that we create by developing and maintaining our boundaries. It is that internal sacred space that provides us with protection and solace, and enables us to find a sense of well-being that we can carry with us everywhere.
ItÆs very hard to establish an inner sanctuary if the self is unknown. So in some ways this book is a challenge to explore the unknown depths of soul and claim the totality of who we are. Only then can we experience a state of consciousness that allows us to soothe ourselves with the precious knowledge that we are separate, and yet infinitely connected. Through our conscious creation of boundaries we will develop the ability to establish a sacred container from which to contemplate our oneness. Without this knowledge we will turn desperately to anything that can medicate our dis-ease.
Boundaries allow us to feel safe in our world filled with personalities, demands and pressures. A comfort zone is the internal experience of peace and boundless connection that cannot easily be realized without boundaries. Meditation, yoga, prayer and other spiritual practices are useful in creating this place of comfort. But for some of us, these become only techniques and temporary solutions, particularly if we are victims or perpetrators.
Of course, there are those extraordinary people who have been able to create an inner sanctuary even while tolerating hideous violation. From prisoners of war to holocaust survivors, history is filled with incredible stories that testify to the mindÆs ability to go to any length to keep us from our pain. Others may dissociate—become psychologically not-present—and escape from their present experiences.
However, we need to be present in body, mind and spirit to create healthy relationships. We need to develop the capacity to be fully present, and still have the ability to access our internal sacred space where we can experience rejuvenation, calm, objectivity and the knowing of who we are. For that reason this book addresses both the practical issues of maintaining our separateness and the sacred domain of connection. This is not a duality, but a continuum of the whole. We must learn to bring the sacred in our everyday interactions and walk a spiritual path with practical feet.
Relationships are learning labs for the development of boundaries. It is through relationships that we are inspired and literally propelled to move out of our narrow definitions of self and meet those disowned parts that can contaminate all of our relationships. With the light of love we can illumine those dark places of fear, anger and abandonment. When we know how these feelings are triggered, then we can have choices about how we contain, react or respond to others. Until we open the doors to those unknown places of our souls, we will continue to do violence to others and to our planet. We will collectively and unknowingly project our rage and our fear in ways that collectively will destroy our civilization as we know it.
Without developing healthy boundaries we all have the potential to destroy as well as create. Without a comfort zone we are too busy defending ourselves to understand the presence of the sacred in all things. This has never been more evident than today. All we need to do is walk out our doors at night or turn on the television to witness the absence of the sacred in our interactions with others. We have become so conditioned to the illusion that the ability to violate exists outside of us, that we have abdicated responsibility for our actions. Fundamentalists would say that the devil is always lurking in our world, ready to influence us at every turn. While certainly we could blame the worldÆs travails on the devil, I find more realistic what Mohandas Ghandi said: ôThe only devils running rampant are the devils within our own hearts.ö If humanity is to survive, itÆs imperative that we recognize how each of us contributes to the violence in the world and learn how to change our responses. ItÆs time for all of us to manifest discipline and intentionality in all our interactions.
Several years ago, Soviet politician Mikhail Gorbachev said to then President Reagan something that was overlooked by most people. He said that the USSR was going to do something devastating to the United States: that Russia was ôgoing to take the enemy away.ö ItÆs tragic to realize that for communities to thrive, enemies have been just as important as friends. When we can project our disowned rage and terror on an enemy outside of us, it brings out the qualities of self-sacrifice and group cohesion. Without boundaries to contain our rage, without a comfort zone in which to experience the sacred, we may all be doomed to experience the violence that pervades our culture. As cartoon character Pogo said, ôWe have met the enemy, and they is us!ö
When first I heard of the concept of physical, emotional and intellectual boundaries, I thought that it was a theory created by bored graduate students, who sat around between Pavlovian seminars discussing what was new with the rats. As time went on, I noticed that boundaries was a word used often in recovery vernacular. People used this term to explain a host of situations from painful relationships to problems at work. I have a funny habit of questioning the value of a term that describes everything from indigestion to menopause. What started as casual curiosity to investigate the etiology of this term turned out to be a psychological and spiritual journey that led to the development of this book.
As it turned out, boundary problems do indeed impact personal and professional relationships of every kind. This word encompasses dynamics of interaction from the family dinner table to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiating table. The unavailability of emotional, physical and intellectual boundaries helps to explain the violence that pervades our culture, as well as our inability to form relationships that are life-enhancing rather than life-draining.
Nothing is more important in our lives than our connections with other humans. Yet, for all our advancement in science and technology, we still donÆt know how to get along with one another. Everywhere we turn there seems to be a glut of books and seminars on healing relationships. We are finally catching on that a dynamic part of healing Mother Earth is attending to what is happening between people. Truly, all the recycling efforts wonÆt save this planet unless we pay attention to the ecology of relationships.
The worldwide violence and destruction is a macrocosm of individual relationships. For that reason itÆs crucial to heal our boundaries and create our own inner sanctuaries. It is no longer a luxury, itÆs a necessity. The most profound way to do this is to develop our own comfort zones with the intention of learning how to feel at home with ourselves and experience safety with others emotionally, physically and eventually spiritually. We need to examine all our relationships, including our relationship to Mother Earth. Only then can we discover how to maintain deep connections with others that are whole, healthy and life-giving. Only then can we restore our planet to health.
In this book I address two primary questions that allow loving connections to thrive. First, how can I maintain my sense of self and still be in relationship with another person? Then as we long to go deeper into the spirituality of relating, the second question becomes, how do I bring forward respect and the intrinsic sacred in my relationships when the conflict and stress of everyday life occurs?
It seems a paradox to join autonomy with intimacy. ItÆs even more paradoxical to think of holding in mind the idea of our partnerÆs fundamental sacredness when weÆre so angry that we could induce a meltdown! While we donÆt have to sacrifice one state of mind to embrace the other, some of us have done just that.
We havenÆt been given healthy models that have shown us how to stay in a relationship with mutuality and personal integrity when the initial romance wears thin. Others canÆt discern when itÆs time to leave a relationship and tolerate hideous abuse because their boundaries are practically non-existent. The only examples we have for relationships come usually from our parents. For many, this is not exactly the ideal, loving relationship to inspire us.
In our society we tend to view relationships as a fix for loneliness and quickly become disenchanted when opportunities arise for us to really learn about our boundaries in a most profound way. For this reason itÆs crucial that we broaden our view of relationships to reach far beyond the initial romantic phase. We need a new vision of sustained relating that brings us into the quality of healing that only the power of love can manifest.
Most of us hold childlike images of relationships that we learned from myth and fairy tales. Although these stories are rich in metaphor, itÆs helpful to remember that most heroines had questionable boundaries. Snow White, for example, is about a young woman who was kicked out of her home by an abusive, narcissistic (alcoholic? we will never know) stepmother who daily talked to her mirror. Meanwhile in an attempt to escape, Snow White focuses her attention on a group of seven asexual little men, each with a major personality flaw. She takes good care of them, but eventually waits for some necrophile in the woods, in this case, a man who will kiss a dead woman in the forest. Some story! Certainly not one that teaches healthy boundaries or relationships. Are you sure you want to read such a bedtime story to your children?
In an age where the various media influence our judgment, itÆs easy to be confused about the two very different experiences of falling in love and of sustaining a long-term relationship. Often weÆre shown the lovely, romantic phase of a relationship, but never get to see what happens if the couple makes a decision to turn romance into a conscious growth-fostering relationship. There is no doubt why so many couples who experience the normal ebb of romance want to throw in the towel and call it quits. Far too often, if the couple gets beyond the romance stage, the story becomes one of violence in some form. Some get right to work on the day to day business of earning a living or sharing housework and never create an inspiring shared vision. Falling in love is the wonderful fire that invites us into the real soul work of relationships. Whether we accept the invitation is up to us.
Many readers are psychologically sophisticated already, but understanding concepts is only a small part of the challenge. Putting them into action takes far more. ThatÆs why sometimes it takes a blasting wake-up call to get us to focus our attention and move into understanding our boundaries deeply, body, mind and spirit. Sometimes our awakening is delivered in a form that is so wounding that it forces us to change how we exist in the world. Often it takes deep love and loss that cracks open our hearts so profoundly that integrity, identity and spirituality finally emerge. Through this kind of awakening many of us give birth to what Native Americans would call our sacred hoop, a comfort zone that previously we could only intellectualize but never quite experience.
For all of us, the healing and reclaiming of our boundaries enriches our lives with a greater measure of safety and serenity. Like anything else in life that is worthwhile, this work takes practice, persistence, commitment and courage. I wish for you the strength to sustain your work, even when the going gets tough. I invite you to borrow hopefulness from others who have walked through that darkness of despair and confusion, and out the other side. The many gifts that will manifest through your efforts will be beyond your wildest imagination!
¬1995 Rokelle Lerner. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Living in the Comfort Zone by Rokelle Lerner. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.
Posted January 21, 2012
I had no real understanding of just personal boundaries were and how important they are to all of us, in order to preserve our own integrity and maintain "Who we really are".
This book brought so much insight and helped also illuminate the statements, actions and consequences of not respecting others' boundaries that I personally ran into, recently.
I am on my way to ME again, after all these years. I have a guide and I can use the things learned to better myself and make all of my relationships more rewarding for all involved.
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