The Magic of Appreciation
Appreciation is one of the cornerstones of a fulfilling relationship with a lover, parent, child or friend. You already know this, but it is our job to keep reminding you about the power of verbally pointing out beauty and strength in someone you love. It is a way to bring more depth to a solid relationship, healing to a wounded relationship, or renewal to a tired or stifled relationship.
Here are appreciation practices for both individuals and couples. Joyce and I believe these practices have benefited all our relationships, especially our own partnership.
Close your eyes. Breathe deeply to relax your body. Breathe into and out of every part of your body — not just your lungs.
When you feel settled down, bring in front of you a relationship you wish to heal or enhance. Visualize this person sitting before you. Remember a special time of closeness with this person, an experience you shared that allowed you to see this person’s soul more clearly. Perhaps it was in the beginning of your relationship; perhaps later on. Try to especially remember the feelings of closeness you shared. What qualities about this person endeared you to them the most. What was it about this person that attracted you to them. Take enough time to feel these things.
Now, realize these same qualities are present just as strongly as ever. It’s just that you have let them drift from your view. Look more deeply at this person’s image in front of you. Notice these beautiful qualities coming to the surface once again, almost as if the image was previously out of focus, and now you can see more clearly. This is a remarkable being in front of you, filled with power, beauty and love. See and feel this for as long as you can.
As you can see this in your visualization and feel this in your feelings, you will more easily see and feel the same beauty with your outer eyes and senses. Let this inner practice give you the courage to now give one of the highest gifts we ever give in our relationships. Find a time to share your appreciation with words. Create a receptive atmosphere for your partner or with whoever you focused on in the practice, and let them know what you most appreciate about them. Give this as a gift to them, to you, and to the relationship.
Sit facing one another with your eyes closed. As with the first practice, quiet your mind through breathing deeply or through any other method you prefer.
When you are ready, open your eyes and look silently into your partner’s eyes. Look past your partner’s face and personality, through their eyes — the windows of the soul. What is it about this being in front of you that touches your heart most? What qualities attracted you to this person in the first place, and allowed you to rise in love? What gifts are you receiving from this friend? How is your life being blessed by this relationship? Let these questions get you in touch with your deepest feelings of love and appreciation.
Whichever one of you is ready to begin can now put these thoughts and feelings into words. Let the words flow from you unrehearsed and spontaneous. Be courageous in your vulnerability. Let your “inner poet” speak without inhibition. Practice expressing thoughts and feelings about your partner that you have never expressed before. Take turns speaking and watch the doors of your heart fling open.
Practice both the inner and the outer exercises as often as possible. Together, in a balanced way, they will bless and enrich your relationships.