The Relationship Handbook: A Path to Consciousness, Healing, and Growth

The Relationship Handbook: A Path to Consciousness, Healing, and Growth

by Shakti Gawain, Gina Vucci


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781577314738
Publisher: New World Library
Publication date: 10/28/2014
Pages: 168
Sales rank: 1,237,411
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)

About the Author

Shakti Gawain emerged as a pioneer in the field of personal growth with her bestselling books Creative Visualization and Living in the Light, which are still popular and in print after more than thirty years. She has led workshops in the United States and internationally for decades. She lives in Mill Valley, California.

Gina Vucci has been coleading workshops with Shakti for nearly fifteen years. She has worked in several fields as a counselor, mentor, and coach for individuals and small businesses. She lives in San Rafael, California.

Read an Excerpt

The Relationship Handbook

A Path to Consciousness, Healing, and Growth

By Shakti Gawain, Gina Vucci

Nataraj Publishing

Copyright © 2014 Shakti Gawain and Gina Vucci
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-60868-361-1


The Path of Relationship

Most of us have a desire to connect deeply with others. We long to give and receive love and to share with each other in many ways. Often, however, we find the closeness we desire to be elusive. Relationships of all kinds may come and go, or they may change. At times, relationships can be very painful. Many of us have not had very good role models for relating to others, especially within our families or among those closest to us. We are all doing the best we can to figure out how to be the best parents, friends, partners, brothers, sisters, daughters, and sons to one another. As the old adage goes, "When we were born, they forgot to send the manual!"

Fortunately, we are living in a time of great change and discovery. We're learning new ways of living more consciously, and one of the main ways we are learning is through our relationships. More and more people are seeking help and understanding about how relationships work — not just our intimate partnerships but all our relationships. Many people who seek help for their relationships want to improve them (although we tend to secretly think it's the person we're having trouble with who needs to do most of the improving!). A desire to relate to others in a healthier and more fulfilling way is a worthy goal, and learning to communicate effectively can improve all our relationships. Communication is a tool we are continually developing, especially as we grow and change and learn more about ourselves.

Countless psychologists and teachers, with a variety of perspectives and different types of wisdom, focus on helping people improve their relationships. Many of these teachers are extremely effective and very helpful to their clients, but they usually focus on the relationship itself.

There is a different approach to relationships, however. This perspective is not found in popular relationship models, and yet it is the most powerful path to increased awareness that I have ever experienced. It is the understanding that our relationships are our teachers and can guide us through our lives if we know how to use them that way. This approach shifts the focus away from the relationship itself and instead looks at what we are experiencing in the relationship and what that can teach us about ourselves and our inner process.

Regardless of whether we stay in a relationship or move on from it, every relationship is an opportunity for us to learn about ourselves and to grow. Working with my relationships in this way has been the most powerful and comprehensive path to consciousness I have experienced, and I love to pass it on to other people.

When we view relationships as a path of consciousness, we recognize that the most important relationship we have is with ourself. Ultimately, this is our primary relationship, the one that provides the foundation for the rest of our life. All other relationships are mirrors reflecting back to us what we may or may not know about ourselves. The process of using these reflections to learn about our development and ourselves helps us to become conscious, integrated beings. And each of our relationships, when viewed in this way, can become a powerful journey into healing and wholeness.

In this book, you will discover how you can use your relationships as a path to greater awareness. You will find out exactly how problem areas in your relationships reflect valuable lessons you need to learn so that you can experience more fulfillment and satisfaction in life. If you are conflicted about a particular relationship in your life, you will come to recognize that it, like all relationships, offers an opportunity for you to find healing and growth.

In addition to recognizing how you can use your relationships as a path of consciousness, you will also learn how to use tools that bring clarity and healing to your relationships, including creative visualization, affirmations, and Voice Dialogue and facilitation exercises.

Some issues we will work with include the following:

• Becoming aware of and healing our unconscious patterns

• Understanding how to use the "mirror of relationships"

• Using the trouble spots in relationships to guide us toward healing

• Communicating more successfully

• Balancing closeness and independence

• Experiencing more fulfilling relationships with everyone in our lives

The path of consciousness is never-ending and always an adventure. The universe is constantly revealing more to us as we continue on our journey. This book will serve as a guide that you can refer back to time and again as your path continues to unfold.

I wrote this book with Gina Vucci, my longtime manager, friend, and workshop coleader. The book is based on the format of the Relationship Workshop that we have been leading together for years. I open our workshops with an introduction that includes my story, and then I turn it over to Gina to lead exercises exploring creative visualization (which begin and close our workshops) and the transformative work with the selves. The Relationship Workshop is typically held over a weekend, and it has been one of the most powerful workshops we've offered. I am thrilled to be able to share this important work with you through this book.


Shakti's Story

I have been fascinated with relationship, family, and community all my life. As I look back, I can see that at certain times I have deeply longed for closeness and connection. I believe that much of this yearning came from experiences in my early childhood and family.

One reason for this is almost certainly the fact that I was my parents' only child, and they divorced when I was three years old. After they divorced, I lived with my mother. She did not remarry or have other children, so our family was small, just my mother and me. My father remarried, and I gained a lovely stepmother, two stepbrothers, and eventually a half-sister. They lived a few hours' drive away, and I enjoyed visiting them; however, I never lived with them. Though they loved me and I loved them, I felt connected to them in a different way, mainly because I rarely saw them.

My mother's family lived in Texas, and after moving a few times, my mom and I settled in California. We often visited her family for Christmas or Thanksgiving, and I vividly remember how happy I felt being part of a large family for a little while. I think there was a part of me that always wanted more of that feeling.

In my young-adult years, I became enchanted with the fields of psychology, spirituality, and metaphysics. This was in the sixties and seventies, when many Eastern philosophical and spiritual teachings were coming to the West, and many Westerners were traveling to the East.

Like many people in my generation, I spent time traveling in Europe and Asia and was deeply influenced by the different cultures I experienced — especially India. As a typical modern Westerner, I was primarily focused on the mental and physical aspects of life. I was accustomed to approaching my life from a logical viewpoint, and I was driven toward "doing" and achieving. The cultures I was traveling through were oriented toward a more spiritual approach to life, and they cultivated "being" energy. At first, the difference was quite striking to me. Gradually, I began to understand that I needed more balance between doing and being in my life.

By the time I returned to the United States, I knew that I was on a path of personal development, learning to live a more fulfilling life and making a meaningful contribution to the world. I read many books, attended numerous workshops and groups, and went to individual and group therapy. I went to live in a community of fellow seekers that felt like the big family I had always wanted. We meditated together, worked together, and shared with one another the many things we were discovering. We began to give workshops to the public, teaching the things we were learning.

I was making some fascinating discoveries — ideas and tools that were helping me to live a fuller, richer life. Some of these came to me in the form of books, some in the form of workshops, and others in the form of individual teachers. One of my early influences was a book called The Nature of Personal Reality by Jane Roberts. It shows how we shape our own experience of reality and proposes that we have the power to create our reality more consciously. This was a radical concept and one I wanted to pursue. I sought additional books on this topic while developing my own ideas about how to apply this process in my life.

Through this work and several serendipitous experiences, I discovered creative visualization, a simple but powerful technique that can help us to create our lives more consciously. We can bring healing into our lives and manifest our wildest dreams through creative visualization exercises, meditations, and affirmations. I also used these practices to raise the level of consciousness in my intimate relationships.

These explorations of my psyche inspired me to lead my own workshops and to work with people individually. I discovered I had a talent for sharing with others the things I had been using in my process. After a while, I got the idea to write a pamphlet containing these ideas that could be helpful to the people in my workshops. This led to self-publishing my books Creative Visualization and later Living in the Light. Gradually, over the next few years, these underground books became international bestsellers. I never set out to be a successful author or teacher; I just wanted to share the ideas and experiences that were exciting to me. Never in my wildest dreams — or my creative visualizing — did I imagine that my writings would proliferate to the extent that they have. As I have continued to learn new tools and techniques, I have integrated them into my body of work. I have also continued to write and have gone on to publish a total of twelve books.

By the time I was in my midthirties, my books were selling well and I was getting to be very well known. I traveled all over the world speaking, teaching, and leading workshops. I loved it. I had great passion for my work and found working with my students and clients very rewarding. Unfortunately, my work also consumed my life. Too much of my awareness was centered on, connected to, or based in my work, and I started to sense a great imbalance in my life.

My personal life had taken a backseat to my professional life. I was having difficulties with my romantic relationships in particular; I found that difficult patterns were increasingly repeating themselves in those relationships. This became a painful process for me, and I was longing to find a true partner. I wasn't finding the intimate connection I was looking for or the partner I thought I was ready for.

Of course, I only thought I was ready. I had done a lot of work on myself, which included a lot of emotional processes. I studied with different teachers, read books, participated in workshops, and went to therapy. But old patterns kept coming up, and in a certain way I felt stuck. The tools that had been working so wonderfully in the other areas of my life didn't seem to be working in the relationship arena. It seemed that a whole other level of my process was being revealed; a deeper level of consciousness was trying to emerge.

Finding myself in this challenging place, I began to visualize some new guidance and direction. I was eventually led to a couple who are therapists and teachers, Dr. Hal Stone and his wife, Dr. Sidra Stone. Through their work, they discovered we have many "selves," aspects within us that act as individual selves with their own ideas, opinions, likes, and dislikes. The Stones developed a technique to dialogue with these selves in a way that brings consciousness to this ongoing process inside us. Their body of work is called "the Psychology of Selves and the Aware Ego," and they call the technique for "talking" with the selves Voice Dialogue. They quickly became my teachers and mentors and now are my dear friends.

When I began to do Voice Dialogue work, I became much more conscious of all the things that were going on inside me. I became more aware of what I was feeling, and I discovered all these different parts of myself that I hadn't even known existed.

Concerning the partner issue, I discovered that I was only in touch with the parts of me that wanted a committed relationship, and so I couldn't understand why it wasn't happening. I was certain that I wanted a relationship and believed I was ready for one. I kept wondering why all the men I was attracted to were unavailable or inappropriate — or lived thousands of miles away! I kept thinking something was wrong with them. But, as it turns out, there were some parts of me that I was unconscious of that weren't ready for a partner or didn't want one at all.

All of this seems so obvious now. I was traveling the world teaching that one's outside life reflects what is going on inside, and here I was longing for the right relationship and it wasn't happening. Of course this had to do with a process within myself. When we truly want something and it isn't happening, a part of us is blocking it. In my case, some inner conflict was causing a great deal of ambivalence about relationship and commitment.

I knew I was struggling, but I didn't understand what the struggle was. I developed much more consciousness about what was happening through working with my selves. I began to explore and understand the parts of me that did not want a relationship or were fearful of it. For example, I had always been a strong, independent woman. I was close to forty, and a part of me didn't want to give up my independence or have to compromise with someone else. Another aspect of myself that I discovered was my Caretaker self. I feared, unconsciously, that if I were in a close committed relationship, I would just end up taking care of someone else, and I wouldn't know how to get my own needs met. I had been in a number of relationships where I had been in this role, so I had good reason to fear this would happen.

On a deeper level, there was a child in me who feared opening up and getting close to someone. This aspect, or self, was afraid of being hurt and abandoned — especially because of the pain I experienced as a child when my parents divorced. Other parts of myself were also involved, but these parts were the most dominant in my process.

Now that I had discovered some of the different voices in me, I could clearly feel the ambivalence of these conflicting selves. One of the wonderful things about the Psychology of Selves is that it allows us to be with our ambivalence, acknowledge it, and really hold it. Most of the time, most of us are trying to choose one side or another. We think one part of us is right or that there is a right way to be. We decide we want to be one way or another — "I want to be like this, and I don't want to be like that." Or, "I want this part of me, and I don't want that part of me." This black-or-white way of thinking doesn't work because all parts of us exist, and we can't just wish them away. You can bury and repress them, but sooner or later they come forth, often during a relationship upset or a health crisis. We need all of these parts in order to experience true balance in our lives. We need all these selves, although we may not know it.

Voice Dialogue work is about developing consciousness and creating awareness of all of the different selves within us. It's about bringing them all forth and getting in touch with them. When we are aware of the different forces operating within us, we can work with them in different ways. I worked on acknowledging and experiencing — we often call it "holding" — my own ambivalence about relationship, reaching into each part of myself and feeling the parts of me that really wanted partnership and feeling the parts of me that really didn't want it. I didn't need to fix this ambivalence or change it; I just needed to be deeply present with it.

In some ways, this point in my story was only the beginning. I have continued to study, learn, and grow through working with my relationships in this way. For now, I will pause my story here, but I have more stories to share with you throughout the book! As we move through the following chapters, we will explore how our various selves are formed, reinforced, or denied.


Excerpted from The Relationship Handbook by Shakti Gawain, Gina Vucci. Copyright © 2014 Shakti Gawain and Gina Vucci. Excerpted by permission of Nataraj Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Part One: Introduction
The Path of Relationship
Shakti’s Story

Part Two: The Power of the Selves Within
Formation of Personality
Discovering Our Primary Selves
Learning from Our Shadow Sides

Part Three: Relationship as Teacher
Relationships as Mirrors
The Aware Ego and the Inner Child
Exploring Common Selves
Integration: Awareness and Attention
Couples: The Special Role of Romantic Partnerships
Gina’s Story: When Leaving a Relationship Is the Right Thing to Do

Part Four: Tools for Developing Your Relationships
Creative Visualization Techniques

The Voice Dialogue Work of Hal and Sidra Stone
About Shakti Gawain
About Gina Vucci

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