By Julie Piatt
August 7, 2012
Last month MindBodyGreen published a short piece entitled, “Let Go, Surrender, Have Faith,” which featured a quote of mine cribbed from my husband Rich Roll’s bestselling memoir, Finding Ultra, along with an image of us kissing shortly after he crossed the finish line at the 2009 Ultraman World Championships:
"Money comes and money goes. That's not the issue. We'll get through this. But you have to let go of old ways of thinking. Surrender your ego. Because the solution to our problems is in faith. Nothing else matters. Stay strong. And just keep doing what you're doing."
The solution to our problems is in faith. I reflected not just on the words, but on the timing of the post, as the previous day I had spent the afternoon sharing the intimate details of relationship evolution with a couple in crisis. My take away? Maybe it was time for me to share more about the journey that is called my marriage.
By way of background, I was raised in Alaska by a West Texas bush pilot adventurer of a father, and a proper Chilean mother. As an adult, I found my calling as a musician, artist, healer, and mother of four children, whom I homeschool – discovering solace and embracing expansion in meditation and a deep love and reverence for the yogic tradition. Always a seeker, I have sat at the feet of many a master; walked the path of Sri Ramana Maharshi on the sacred Indian mountain of Arunachala; devoured every spiritual text I could find; and done my best to implement the sacred teachings into my life and that of my family, sharing freely what I have learned along the way.
I guess you could say that I am the conductor of a creative family orchestra. A marriage and a family that in many ways lives free, fulfilled and in certain respects completely outside the parameters of typical social expectations and structures. The journey is one of pure, creative expression premised on authenticity and the courage to live your heart. Each member of our family is valued and supported as an integral part of our whole family tribe.
A life is precious and the years we are here are short in number. We endeavor to live each day authentically, and to express and share that with others. When we lay our head on our pillow at night, we know we were authentic and served our divine design with honor. We are complete to die each day so that we can live more fully the next.
Rich and I have been together for 14 years. When we met in a yoga class in 1998, Rich was recently out of a 100-day stint in rehab. I was the first girl he dated after his one-year vow of celibacy while he worked hard to create a foundation of sobriety. Some may have been afraid of his addiction and reticent to be in a relationship with someone who suffers from this affliction. But to be honest, it was a never an issue for me. Because I didn’t see that reality for him. He would remind me of his humanity now and again with a warning, but to me he was never “an alcoholic.” He was and is a beautiful creation of GOD, a sensitive intuitive man I love and have always loved for his intellect and heart. But the single most powerful quality that attracted me to him was his vulnerability. Rich had this authentic ability to say, “I don’t know the answer.” After relationships with “Alpha Males,” I found this incredibly refreshing. When I was in some crisis, he never professed he would take care of it or solve it. He had great empathy for my pain, and he would stand close to me. But he wouldn’t play the knight in shining armor role. That was a relief that offered me a respect that I had not felt with previous relationships.
In the early years of my time with Rich, I set out to support him in actualizing a potential I could see in my mind’s eye. I could always perceive within him, lurking beneath the surface, an amazing intuitive prowess, creativity and physical strength. But he couldn’t see it himself, imprisoned by the biggest part of being a man on this planet – his ability to earn a certain level of income. Shackled by social expectations, I watched him suffer.
With the best of intentions, I pled with him to let go of this struggle; take my hand; and embrace some of the wisdom I had found – release and freedom through meditation, diet and sharing the spiritual journey that was permeating every fiber of my existence. But I came to discover that the more I needed him to be something other than who he was, the more he became paralyzed. I tried everything to ignite a shift in him. I begged, reasoned, pleaded, cajoled, threatened, and cheered. You name it, I tried it. But nothing worked.
We eventually came to a crossroads where I came to the realization that the more energy I put into wanting him to change, the more stuck he became. That in truth, I had become a co-creator in his prison. It was not easy to reconcile. How could it be? After all, all I wanted for him was to tap into the potential I could so clearly see. But in the shadows behind my good intentions also lived socially imposed financial expectations of what I felt I deserved to receive as his woman. If I really looked really closely, I was not clear. I had an attachment to Rich achieving, which translated into money and his facility to care for our family and me.
I was in illusion that Rich was my source. They say the spiritual path is a solo one. This is true. We must remember that we are our own individual self-sustainable ecosystem. We are born alone, and we will die alone. But that doesn’t mean we can’t dance intimately with another and experience the depths of that embrace.
During a meditation retreat, an Indian teacher of mine spoke about the concept of human love versus Divine love. Human love, he explained, is little more than a business arrangement. When we first meet someone, the endorphins kick in and we project an image of our “love fantasy” onto that person. Later, when the partner doesn’t live up to the projection, we become angry with him or her and want to trade up for a better version. Alternatively, Divine love is unconditional love. It loves you simply for your presence. There is no required act to achieve or mandatory place attained as a prerequisite to receiving unlimited unconditional love. Consciousness delights in creation, and that means it is delighted in you, right NOW, irrespective of circumstance or status.
A light clicked, and something shifted deep inside of me. Rich called to explain some detail of his process to me. Rather than advise, I simply said, “I love you exactly as you are and I don’t care anymore. You don’t need to change your diet or meditate or do anything. I love you now. Just as you are.” I think he laughed and was not so sure what was happening and likely sensed an ambush waiting in the fields. Later in the week he tried again. I replied, “I don’t care what you do, it’s your life. I love you unconditionally and I’m sorry that I put my energy onto you. I was wrong to do that.” Without a doubt, he could feel the difference.
Within a few months, on his own initiative, Rich undertook the beginnings of a fantastic journey – a massive overhaul of body, mind and spirit – that finds him now as a bestselling author and one of the world’s most popular ultra-endurance athletes. A remarkable adventure from disaffected middle-age malaise to complete oneness and perfect authenticity. Not to mention a level of intimacy in our relationship stronger that it was when we first met 14 years ago.
It was never in my awareness that his life would take such a beautiful trajectory. To be certain, the journey has been alchemically challenging. That means we were on our knees often sometimes questioning our decisions. But I wouldn’t trade this experience for all the money in the world. The fruits of a life lived authentically are priceless. And they span beyond this physical life expanding your soul.
I could have never dreamed such an extraordinary reality for our life.
But then the Divine will always do a better job for us if you just allow her grace to paint your life’s mandala.
If my experience resonates with you or you feel “stuck” in your relationship, here are some tips I have found instrumental in my own life for catalyzing a positive shift. It takes a lot of courage and it may not be easy. This is for the warriors. But if you think this is your path. Here is some wisdom that has helped me a lot.
1. See the Best in Your Partner. Always.
This is one of the most powerful things you can do to help your relationship. How can anyone understand another person’s journey? We cannot, as we are not standing in their shoes. By holding the intention for the highest divine outcome for them, and seeing them in the highest light, you can actually participate in healing and supporting them to reach their potential. How many times when I was in a dark moment, I longed for someone to believe in me. My best advice for someone struggling is to say, “I trust and believe in you to find your way.” That’s all. No advice. Just complete trust in them as God. That is a true act of love.
2. Consider How the Divine Loves – and Model That.
How does “God” or “Consciousness” love? It loves unconditionally. This means that there is no thing or act necessary for you to be loved or love your partner in the eyes of the Divine.There is no future time or place where then you can be loved. In other words, you are perfect NOW. And the same holds true for your partner, irrespective of circumstance.
3. Forgive and Forget.
If you do this, you’ll do yourself the biggest favor. One’s actions speak to themselves and themselves alone. There is no act that is unforgivable in the eyes of the Divine. Practice forgiveness and forgetfulness. Let it go. And love NOW.
4. Celebrate Your Partner as He or She Is NOW.
Logically, if the higher plan is in place, then we all are God and we all are playing our parts in the symphony. Consciousness does not value one expression over another. We are all divine expressions. Celebrate your partner. And if you are wise, view him or her as your divine lover – and honor him or her.
5. Take responsibility – the Ultimate “GREEN”
Remember you are your own self-sustainable ecosystem. Be responsible for your own energy and state of being. No one or thing outside of you is your source. You naturally have enough energy to sustain your life. The key lies in your heart, not in your mind. Use techniques to get you in touch with your heart like yoga, meditation, being in nature, and eating for life and energy.
6. Remember Who You Are.
Let go of what your partner is doing. Instead, connect with what you came here to express. Your life is about you. At the end of the day, live the life you came here to live. And you will find, as I have, that this seemingly selfish act is actually one of great compassion and expansion. Because just touching this awareness will uplift everyone around you.
I wish you all “JAI” or victory in your relationships and in your life.
Julie Piatt, aka SriMati