Writer, producer and coach Kathrin Seitz and Marc Felix, a Camden psychotherapist and student of shamanism, are exploring this winter the phenomenon of relationships –- what they are and what they mean for the human experience. In March, they will hold a daylong workshop to invite relationship into lives and enhance the relationships one has. As part of this winter project, they also will venture forth with the broader Midcoast community with this periodic column, to investigate the idea of relationship, that heavily nuanced word in the English language that implies much but is so hard to define.


We are curious to learn how people view relationships — our relationship to work, spirit, art, music, money, animals, the sea, the land and our own self. We are fascinated with the process of relationship, how humans interrelate, and have previously taught workshops on “Shapeshifting Relationship.” We want to continue that work here in this column space over the next few months to better understand what you want to know about relationships. We will also use this space to talk about whether communication is the problem everyone thinks it is; what commitment is, really; what friendship is all about; and what our favorite romantic movies tell us about ourselves.

We invite your questions and will discuss them here; e-mail them to shapeshiftingrelationship@gmail.com.

Jake from Appleton sent in this great question: What can you say about the relationship we have to our self?

Marc’s answer

The relationship to our self is our primary relationship, the template that forms every other relationship we have. By how we treat ourselves, we show other people how to treat us. Treat yourself well, and other people will follow suit.

If we don’t enjoy our own company, why would someone else? If you want more exciting relationships, make yourself more exciting.

Many spiritual traditions regard the world as a mirror. We look around and we see our selves reflected back to us from every direction. As the legendary alchemists said, “as within, so without.” For example, I’ve heard some people say Midcoast Maine is a cold and snobby place and I’ve heard other people say Midcoast Maine is a warm and friendly place. Is there more than one Midcoast Maine or are these people seeing reflections of themselves? If we want to change the world, we have to change our selves.

Our relationship to our self is complicated because we are more than one self. I’m not talking about the whole cast of characters that make up the different aspects of our personality. That’s a whole other article. I’m talking about the head, which houses our ego, and the heart, which houses our soul. The self that resides in our heads critically judges ourselves and the world. The self that resides in the heart sees ourselves and the world with compassion, forgiveness and love. The key to a great relationship with yourself is to see yourself with your heart. Be your own best friend. Love and forgive yourself no matter what the circumstances are. You are part of the miracle of life. Just imagine a world where everybody saw with the eyes of the heart. What a beautiful vision.

Kathrin’s answer

I agree with Marc that self-knowledge is the most important aspect of any relationship. Part of that, and probably the most neglected part, is our relationship with our body. Yes we are spirit and yes we are mind, but we do live in a physical body.

My Indonesian babysitter said this to me: our lives are God’s gift to us and our life, the way we live our life, is our gift to God. Our bodies are part of that gift; let’s care for them. We all know by now that we are what we eat. We also know that what we eat affects how we feel. And how we feel affects how we behave in our relationships. How many of us have had a couple of drinks and gotten in a bad mood, maybe even picked a fight? How many of us have eaten too much sugar, too many carbs and dragged around for days? Even the most attractive and lovable mate can be annoying when we feel bad. What would it take to begin to eat well? What would it take to exercise? We need to acknowledge that a commitment to our health is a commitment to our relationships.

The ancients said that the soul is located in the heart. Do you know your heart? Do you talk to your heart? We do carry on, often endlessly, a dialogue with our mind. How many of us have long conversations with ourselves in our heads? But do we dialogue with our hearts? For years I have practiced an ancient form of meditation called the inner smile. I close my eyes, picture my heart and smile at it. And then I put the smile in my heart. I send my heart gratitude and I feel my heart sending gratitude out to the world.

Let’s smile at our hearts. They could certainly use our love and gratitude. What a great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

 

Marc Felix holds a doctorate in counseling psychology and has been a psychotherapist in private practice for more than 30 years. His work radically shifted after completing a two-decade shamanic apprenticeship with an Apache medicine chief. His current work is body, mind and spirit healing of individuals and couples.

Kathrin Seitz has more than 30 years experience in the publishing, television and film businesses in both New York City and Los Angeles. She has been teaching Method Writing for more than six years in New York City, Newport, R.I., Maine and Florida. While working in the entertainment business, Seitz trained and worked as a lay analyst.  She took several years of courses, reading all the important psychoanalytic literature, and worked with patients in a supervised setting for four years. Visit kathrinseitz.com.