My guest in this episode is Jillian Turecki, a long-time teacher of Kula Yoga Project in New York City. Jillian and I sat down to discuss her recent work on relationships and specifically the modern obstacles that couples have to connecting with one another.
About three to four years into Jillian’s teaching career, she had started to think about how she could evolve her offerings as a teacher. Through traumatic events in her life, she became interested in what makes a healthy relationship work. “When anything breaks down,” she says, “it’s the ground for something new to grow.”
She began studying with Anthony Robbins and became a “life coach”, but she doesn't like this term “life coach” and prefers “strategic interventionist.”
We discussed how our yoga practice can be a conduit for change, but that it is also possible to engage in your yoga practice in a habitual way that resists change. We can get into these habitual modes of practicing. “There is a way to practice where there’s not a lot of shift happening. There’s always some shift, but its not always completely optimal.” However, “The more mature you become in your practice, the more you’ll move toward healing.”
Jillian sees this work connecting to the philosophy of the yoga tradition, because the deeper message is “always a return to the heart”. Getting back into your heart, back into balance, is the trajectory of this work. In relationships, fear is always the ego. Love is always the pursuit of the soul. In relationships, she looks to get people more in touch with who they really are and not so deeply entrenched in the ego — so selfish.
Obstacles to Relationships:
Jillian sees a few significant obstacles to relationships.
- We are too centered on the egoic self.
- We see relationships as contractual, as a 50/50 exchange, as a pursuit of evenness. We are also focused here on “giving to get”.
- We come from a cultural belief system that says we are “without”. We thus operate from a place of scarcity, rather than abundance. We think that we’re not enough, and if we’re not enough, we aren’t going to be loved.
“For a relationship to work, it has to be all about the other person.”
Jillian then discusses how our yoga practice should be leading us in the direction of deepening our relationships just as much as we are deepening our attention to our bodies and minds. “In yoga, you change your physiology, then what? What are you going to do with it?”
She speaks about an epidemic in the yoga community, where we are practicing to change our body-minds, but then there’s no integration into the world outside, into our relationships with other people. “If you are becoming light, it’s your responsibility to share that light.”
More Challenges in the World of Relationships:
- The word “partner” is problematic, because “partner” implies a business transaction. “Being in a partnership is not very sexy. Sounds compatible, but not sexy.”
- We are entering relationships protected and guarded, not open.
- The honeymoon period fades, because we stop being interested in the other person. We stop being curious.
- We are so judgmental of ourselves and each other.
- We sense an emotional lack and we look for someone to fill that lack.
- We are constantly complaining about what we’re not getting.
Jillian shares that if you want a person to be attracted to you, you have to think about how you are going to become emotionally fit. You should be full and abundant, not lacking and vacant. “We have been hypnotized by culture saying you are vacant without this other person.”
Emotional Center of Gravity
To become emotionally fit, Jillian says that you first have to uncover your emotional center of gravity. If it is depression or anger, that’s filling a need. What need is it filling?
Jillian remarks that emotions like sadness and anxiety are overmedicated and that the reason it’s so hard to change these patterns isn’t because they are necessarily neurological or biological, but because “our problems are our greatest addiction. Nothing is more addicting than familiarity, not even heroin.” It is so hard to change, because a big part of us does not wish to change. We are addicted to the familiarity of our problems.
Three Ways you can Change your Emotional State:
- Physiology and the breath.
- Focus: What are you thinking about?
- The Language you use to express your experience.
Once you become aware of your body, then you realize that you’re thinking about a certain pattern of thoughts (your past, your problems, etc.). Once you recognize the patterns, you can start to tackle and shift those patterns. If you remain curious, you will find the motivation to evolve and grow.
“Emotion is created by motion”: If you want to change your emotions, the best prescription is to move your body - through yoga, swimming, cycling, running, etc.
Toward the end of our discussion, Jillian offered what we’ll call our relationship “daily sadhana” (daily practice):
- Remain ALIVE in your relationship. How can you, each day, avoid slipping into an automated way of being?
- Ask yourself: what am I doing to contribute to my love’s happiness?
- Be a detective rather than reactive. When something stirs up your frustration in the other person, become interested in the underlying need. What is my love really asking me/expressing here?
If you want to learn more about Jillian or gain access to free recordings of her relationship workshops, visit JllianTurecki.com.
Jillian will be conducting a six-week group coaching course on relationships in January, starting January 7th at Kula Yoga Project in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. For more information, visit kulayoga.com.