Valentine’s Day is a special time to celebrate love and to put energy into personal relationships. Bhagavan and Bhavani Metro, longtime devotees of Swami Satchidananda, Integral Yoga Ministers, and a happily married couple with decades of relationship wisdom and experience, recently shared their insights with the Yogaville sangha in a talk entitled, “Finding Happiness Through Relationships.” In the talk, Bhagavan and Bhavani discussed techniques and teachings to cultivate loving, compassionate, and joyful relationships with significant others, friends, and family.
Joy Comes from Within
In relationships, we sometimes believe that others bring us happiness. Bhagavan and Bhavani teach that your happiness is not dependent on someone else.
“Joy is within us. That’s where it exists,” says Bhagavan.
“It’s in here,” he says as he points to his heart, “but we project it outwards. We think it’s from some outside source, but it never is. In Yoga, when you introspect and develop an interior practice, you’ll experience that joy.”
“There’s a reason why this talk is called Happiness Through Relationships and not Happiness In Relationships,” Bhavani explains.
“If I say I’m going to be happy as long as you do something, that process may not happen.”
Instead, the advice they give is: “Marry that peace and joy in yourself. Wisdom, love, and kindness, let them overtake you. Become that. Seek happiness, now, in yourself. If you have it, you will be happy regardless of whether you’re in a relationship or not.”
Be in the Golden Present
“What’s really exciting in relationships, especially in new ones, is being completely in the present moment,” explains Bhavani.
“When we’re living in the golden present, we experience joy in ourselves and others and it reflects back from the person whom we’re interacting with.”
So how does one live in the present moment?
Bhavani says, “Start by being aware of your own golden present.” “It’s not necessarily the event or circumstance that’s happening; it’s your inner self. Watch your emotions.”
“And if you’re Grumpy,” she says with a smile, “be present in your grumpiness.”
The Metros emphasize: “This is it, friends and family! These are the moments of our lives. We only have these moments, and they flick by real fast. Being present helps others to be present too. You give them freedom to be authentic and real in their interactions.”
The expectation of perfection in relationships is a common struggle and disappointment. Bhagavan and Bhavani share their wisdom with respect to accepting imperfection.
“Be free from desire for perfection in your relationships. Don’t think, ‘I love you if…’ or ‘I love you but…’ Just think, ‘I love you as you are.’ The people in our lives are perfect exactly as they are, not as we want them to be.
“When I see that the world isn’t perfect—that nothing in the world truly is—I’m not going to ask it for perfection,” Bhagavan explains further. “I won’t expect perfection out of my partner. I let the idea of perfection go. See the perfection in that imperfection. When you ask your partner to be a certain way, you’re repressing them.”
The Metros teach that forgiveness is important in all relationships.
“Get rid of any lingering stuff in your mind: arguments, old hurts, old pains, insults, etc. Gurudev always said, ‘Remember the good things.’ If old hurts still pop up, you haven’t forgiven others or yourself. Release it. Let go of those negative thoughts and allow more positive ones in.”
Bhagavan and Bhavani also speak to the importance of Karma Yoga, or selfless service, in relationships.
“Karma Yoga is wonderful for relationships. It makes you so happy to do things for others. There’s no tension in that. Through Karma Yoga, love becomes action.”
“Make your love action, in all relationships, not just romantic ones,” advises Bhavani. “Actions speak louder than words.”