Every now and then I come across a book, a tape, a lecture or a person, that completely changes my life. Mary O’ Malley’s book , “What’s in The Way, Is the Way’ is one such book. I came across it recently, mentioned in one of the several emails that I get, and I took the time to read the first chapter which was on offer for free, because I was attracted to the title. I was delighted to find a simple but profound treatise on Mastery. Arguably the best I have ever read. In the East this book would be described as an Upu Guru – something that you come across that points The Way. (As against a Sat Guru, which is someone whose life is their message and who Is the Way) Here is a quote from the book on page 111:

“ Life is set up
to bring up
what has been bound up
so it can open up
to be freed up
so you can show up
For Life”

That’s about as close as I can get to describing her philosophy in a nutshell .

O ‘ Malley skillfully helps the reader become aware of how we are caught, constantly in the ‘clouds of struggle’ created by the thoughts in our head. All of us are in a constant state of listening to the story teller in our head, who is planning, arguing, reasoning, fixing, dominating, changing and trying to control our reality, instead of just meeting our lives exactly as they are and ‘showing up’ for the experience, good, bad and ugly. The cost of being caught in our ‘clouds of struggle’, this tug of war with what is, is we forget to be present or to ‘show up’ for the actual experience of our lives. We prefer to listen to our storyteller and get caught up in our old worn stories about what is happening, rather than being with what is actually happening.

So how do you show up for your experience? How do you meet it so that it can flow through you without you getting caught up in its drama? This is essentially what the book is about. It’s a skill to develop to be able to meet your experience, especially where you are going through a divorce or relationship breakdown, to move towards it instead of away from it by eating over it, drinking over it, working over it, watching TV over it to name but a few ways that we avoid actually feeling and being with what’s going on for us.

Again and again, I realize that mastery involves doing the exact opposite of what I would have thought I had to do. Its about learning to respect and honour what is happening and doing a U turn and turning towards that which we naturally want to run away from. In the process, things become much less scary and you become much stronger. You increase your capacity to deal with discomfort and you enter what she calls the Meadow- where you realize that ‘It’s all okay. It’s truly okay’. You can only do this once you understand that we are not separate from Life and that Life is Safe (even though it includes pain) and that you cannot control Life. O’ Malley says it is a gigantic leap in our awakening when we realize that our suffering does not come from what is happening in our lives. Suffering comes from believing our stories about what is happening. You just need to bring the light of your curious attention to yourself.

I am just dropping the seed of this idea and if I feel moved to share more in future blogs, of course I will.

I recently received this newsletter from Kelley Kosow of The Ford Institute explaining what Gwyneth Paltrow meant by conscious uncoupling. We call it Spiritual Divorce or Conscious Divorce and the idea is spreading like wildfire…

‘Bringing Light to Unconscious Coupling.

The release of Debbie’s book Courage in paperback on April 7th inspired me to revisit all of her books in the past two weeks. Although each of her books are brilliant, the one I will always have a soft spot for is the one that truly brought me to this work – her second book Spiritual Divorce, Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life.(me too!!)

At a time when everyone is talking about Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin and the practice of “conscious uncoupling,” a term originally coined by Katherine Woodward Thomas, I am again humbled by how insightful and ahead of her time Debbie Ford truly was. Not only does Spiritual Divorce, which was originally published in 2001, speak to the concepts that are now being defined as conscious uncoupling, but more than that it really dwells in the conversation of why we pick the person we do and create the kind of relationship that we experience. It truly explains and brings light to our tendency to unconsciously couple!

The first time I read Spiritual Divorce I was married and trying to decide whether to remain in my marriage or not. Since I had three young daughters I was committed to doing everything I could to “work on the marriage.” I went to individual therapy, we went to marriage counselors and relationship workshops, but generally I left the sessions more pissed off than when I went in. It wasn’t until I read Spiritual Divorce that I was able to look at my relationship through different eyes.

Spiritual Divorce is based on the premise that we learn about ourselves through our relationships. The fact is that most of us cannot see ourselves, therefore the people that come into our lives are there for a reason. They are there to show us us. And it is the people closest to us that are our most perfectly positioned mirrors. So instead of getting upset with our partners and our circumstances, we need to recognize that everything is as it should be and that we actually called in the perfect partners and co-created these relationships for own personal growth and evolution.

Spiritual Divorce taught me that instead of hating, blaming and pointing the finger at my then husband, I needed to look at the three fingers pointed back at myself and find the wisdom in my wounds and the insights of my anger. I needed to understand why this man was actually the perfect partner to teach me about me. In the end I know that my ex came in to teach me about my relationship with trust.

If you have wondered, “How did I end up with this person?” “What happened to our relationship?” How could I have done the same thing over again?” “What was I thinking?” “Why am I staying in this relationship even when I know it is not in my highest?” or even like me trying to do what ever you can to understand your marriage, to work it out or do whatever it takes so you can make the decision from an empowered place as opposed to a place of reaction or resignation, then I highly suggest you read Spiritual Divorce. For me, understanding why and how I unconsciously coupled has taught me how to be in relationships and truly made my decision to divorce and everything that has happened since the catalyst for what I now truly claim as an extraordinary life!

Transformational Action Steps

1. Journal about a significant relationship that still feels incomplete. Identify two things you learned about yourself as a result of that relationship.

2. If you want to go further, continue journaling by dwelling in the conversation of why this person and this relationship was the perfect person and relationship to teach you these lessons.

3. Read Spiritual Divorce: Divorce as a Catalyst for an Extraordinary Life.

4. To deepen your understanding of the concepts of the book, hire a Healing Your Heart Coach by visiting www.thefordinstitute.com/hyh_coaches

5. If you want to learn more about Conscious Uncoupling, we highly suggest that you visit www.consciousuncoupling.com

6. Sign up and tune into this week’s Shadow Talk (a free group coaching series offered over the phone) on the Shadow of Falling In Love by visiting www.thefordinstitute.com/shadowtalk

With love,

Both Kelley and I are qualified , non practicing lawyers. I am working with South African lawyers to bring conscious divorce to their clients. This is the dawning of a whole new understanding of relationships, divorce and a powerful way forward. Glad you are part of my journey!