Sustaining Relationships

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

We live in a world where interpersonal relationships are important for success. Yet, it can be hard to keep them strong and successful. What really disturbs interpersonal relationships? A relationship gets disturbed when disagreement begins.

Just look at yourself. Have you always agreed with yourself? You had some idea yesterday; today you may have a different idea. Five years back you had other ideas that do not necessarily agree with the ideas that you have today. So when you can have disagreement with yourself, why should it not happen with someone else?

The “someone” you have a disagreement with is just a photocopy of your old or the new self. You need to take a look at your own thought and emotional patterns; there is a rhythm in them. And there is a rhythm in the consciousness. You need to find a harmony between all these rhythms within you and that’s what is called spirituality.

Spirituality is not just fantasizing; it’s observing your own existence. Have you thoroughly known your body? When you see someone, you can see their physical form but have you experienced your own body? Experiencing your own body, your breath, your mind, your emotion, and the source of your life is meditation. Meditation is experiencing the life force and being conscious of it; and it is done effortlessly.

Mind and body function on completely opposite laws. In the realm of the mind, effortlessness is the key. You cannot remember something through effort. The moment you relax, the memory comes back. Creativity, intelligence and memory – all these faculties within us happen effortlessly. However, in the realm of the body, you have to put in effort. You can build muscles only when you put in effort.

How do you listen? The sounds come and fall on the eardrums but if the mind is elsewhere, can you hear? You are listening through that faculty in you that is called the mind. When you are listening, you are either agreeing or disagreeing. Notice whether you are saying yes or no. This something by which you say yes or no is called the intellect.

It is the same consciousness that functions as mind, intellect, memory and ego.

Similarly, if you observe memory, it clings onto something that is negative. You will forget ten compliments from someone, but cling to one insult.

This needs to be reversed; and the process of reversing this tendency of the memory from clinging onto the negative and moving to something positive is called yoga. Yoga makes you like a child again. It not only revives your nature, it also keeps your heart and mind young and bright. Yoga improves perception, observation and expression.

The Five Keys

For maintaining interpersonal relationships, you have to first have a relationship with yourself. Your relationship with yourself is called integrity. If you have no relationship with yourself, that’s called lack of integrity. Secondly, being informal keeps your interpersonal relationship strong, for it gives space for mistakes to happen. You cannot expect perfection in any relationship or situation. Thirdly, in every relationship there is give and take. Give more and take less. And when you give, don’t give halfheartedly. Give generously.

Fourthly, focus on the positive aspects of the relationship. In any relationship, there will be negative and positive things. For a relationship to bloom and blossom, keep focus on the positive things of the relationship. Another key point is not to ask proof that the other person loves you. Take it for granted that the other person loves you. If they have to prove their love to you over and over again, it is exhausting.

Sometimes heartbreak is inevitable. Move on. Meditation will give you the strength. There will be pain and time will heal it. Today one of the biggest problems in the world is emotional instability. When you create an informal outlook and cordial environment around you, you grease the friction and become the master of your environment and not feel helpless about what is happening around you.

That’s why it is said: Do a good deed and forget about it. It is not only your vices or bad qualities that will harm you, even your good qualities can make you stiff, rude and angry. That is why you should surrender both bad and good qualities. Relax and let go.

Suppose you don’t sleep for two days, you will see that small things can start to irritate you. And if you have rested well, the situation will be different.

Meditation is the only way you can transcend the negative thoughts and then positive thoughts will come spontaneously and automatically. Stress and tension cause negative attitude. If you have a positive state of mind, you become creative and successful in anything you do.


Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, a world-renowned humanitarian and spiritual leader, is the founder of the Art of Living Foundation, an international non-profit that works to strengthen society by strengthening individuals. Sri Sri’s programs of trauma relief, conflict resolution, self-development, education, women’s empowerment, vocational training and revival of human values have benefited an estimated 300 million persons in more than 145 countries.


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