Michael Mirdad is a World-renowned Spiritual Teacher, Healer, and Author. He has worked as a Healer and Counselor for over 30 years and is the author of several best-selling books. In our cover story, Michael talks about his new book, Creating Fulfilling Relationships. Far from a typical book on relationships, this book is about making all of our relationships (not just partnerships) healthy and fulfilling. He tells us that “when we become healthy ourselves, this healthiness pours its gifts upon our relationships.”
Michael, having written numerous books on numerous topics, why did you choose to write a book on relationships and why now?
There seems to be a high demand for a book on relationships that is clear, simple, applicable, and fun. I've taught relationship workshops and practiced as a spiritual counselor for over three decades and successfully taught thousands of individuals and couples how to heal their relationships. This helped me to discover ways to simplify what seems to be a complex topic and now share these ideas with those who are ready to create fulfilling relationships.
Relationships are at the core of all that we experience in this world. Think about it! Every thought, feeling, word, and action is motivated by our relationship with God, ourselves, and/or someone else. That's why there are so many other books out there on relationships. But most books focus on creating new fads on how to “repair” relationships or how to “find the perfect partner.” And although Creating Fulfilling Relationships also focuses a great deal on our relationships with others (offering numerous progressive and effective tips, insights, and exercises) it also explains how to nurture a healthy relationship with ourselves. This book is about getting to know ourselves at the deepest level and creating the most fulfilling relationships possible.
You seem to have a fresh approach to relationships and are not a big advocate of the usual approaches to relationships. Why is this?
Well, the human race has wrestled with romanticized notions of relationships for more years than any of us would like to count. People have entered relationships as though unconscious, with unhealed issues and personal agendas. But it's time that we learn the alternative: to enter relationships while conscious and awake. The truth is, relationships have only one main purpose but with two parts: Relationships are for sharing love and for discovering and removing all of the obstacles to that love. That's it! Every teacher, teaching, book, or workshop on relationships that fails to understand this ends up wasting our time on the extraneous or superficial aspects of relationships.
Like many people, I too have experienced most types of relationships. I have had a ten-year marriage. I have had long-term and short-term “intimate friendships,” and I have spent years alone, nurturing a relationship with myself. In nearly every case, my experiences have been fantastic, deep, responsible, and trusting. And, even though those relationships changed or ended, I actually feel love and appreciation for each person with whom I shared time and space. I've even counseled many of my former partners through difficulties in their later relationships. This helps to confirm that if we nurture fulfilling relationships with God and Self (and practice responsible communication and healthy acts of affection), we can then expect to experience long-term, fulfilling relationships with others.
You seem to have a way of simplifying what might otherwise be a complicated topic. For example, you explain that all relationships fall into just three categories. Can you speak to that a bit?
We are clearly beyond the age of being wowed by overly complicated ideas and theories. If the new millennium and the year 2012 marked any change at all on planet earth, it's that it is time to only study and practice that which is simple and applicable. Our egos tend to be attracted to things that are overly complicated or that are out of reach. But, as we are now entering an age wherein our souls are replacing our egos at the helm, we are going to find that more and more often people will say “no” to things that do not work and “yes” to the things that do.
The Sufis teach that there are actually only three relationships we can experience: One is with God, one is with Self, and one is with Others. The Sufi's add that we will NEVER be truly happy unless all three of these relationships are healthy and fulfilling. A Course in Miracles tends to agree with this idea and adds that not only must these three relationships be healthy, we need to prioritize them in this specific order—God, Self, Others.
Can you explain how these three relationships can be nurtured?
Our first relationship—with God—is primarily nurtured in two ways: prayer and meditation. These can be summarized as “communion.” Our second relationship— with Self—is primarily nurtured in two ways: healing of self and creating healthy boundaries. These can be summarized as “responsibility.” Our third relationship— with Others—is primarily nurtured in two ways: healthy communication and authentic acts of affection. These can be summarized as “connection.”
You also mention that all relationships go through just three stages—albeit over and over. Can you speak to that a bit more?
We repeatedly go through the three stages of relationship with everything we relate to—including people and objects. However, throughout history most people have gone through only the first and second stages and then parted ways. Now we are being called toward a new way of life, wherein we finally can make it to the third stage of relationships—unconditional love.
THE FIRST STAGE OF RELATIONSHIP is often called the “90 day euphoria” because it usually is focused on romance and infatuation. We are experiencing the shallow and fleeting aspects of the relationship, as if in a trance. During this stage we rarely see people as they really are, and we rarely show them who we really are. It's as though we are all wearing masks. This stage is mostly about stimulation and excitement, rather than depth and true connection. The higher consciousness within us knows this, which is why life is designed to take us through the latter stages of relationship, helping us deepen our relationship experience.
THE SECOND STAGE OF RELATIONSHIP is the stage wherein the honeymoon is over and we begin to wake up. This is when the masks come off and the excitement dissolves. In this stage, we have the opportunity to deepen our commitment to truly knowing one another at the deepest level. But, unfortunately, most people can't take the heat and tend to either go numb (but remain in the relationship), or they part ways (blaming one another for the disillusionment). Such reactions tend to simply recreate more of the same in our future relationships.
THE THIRD STAGE OF RELATIONSHIP is the rarely achieved stage wherein the love that was once shallow and conditional is transformed into the deepest, unconditional love we can imagine. To use alchemy as a metaphor, the first stage of relationship represents base metals; the second stage of relationship represents the purging fire that transforms the metal; and the third stage represents the gold that remains once the dense elements of the base metal have been transformed.
Part 4 of the book explains so much about how to actually make relationships work; how did you come to the title of that chapter, “Relation-ship versus Relation-shit?
It came from my desire to clearly distinguish the difference between what works to create fulfilling relationships and what doesn't work. Essentially, that chapter offers ideas on how to know the difference between codependence and interdependence; how to “grow relationships,” instead of jumping in; how to make “time-frame agreements”; and how to “rate” your relationship to know if it is meant to last. Then, Part 5 of the book takes this further and explains the truth about soul mates and twin souls, improving intimacy and sexuality, and how to develop higher forms of love— unconditional love. It really helps to complete the picture of how to create fulfilling relationships.
If you were to share the primary reasons that relationships so often fail, what would the reasons be?
Well, it's fairly simple... most people fail to have a healthy relationship with Spirit/God, as well as a relationship with themselves. If we do not have a healthy relationship with Spirit, as well as a healthy and responsible relationship with ourselves, how can we expect to be healthy and mature enough to share life with others or know how to truly love others? Most people approach relationships as distractions from their issues or as fulfillment of the voids in their personal or emotional lives. Healthy relationships are possible, but it takes approaching relationships from the exact opposite direction than used by most people. Instead of going to others to find personal fulfillment, we actually must first become more healthy ourselves and then allow this inner healthiness to pour its gifts upon our outer relationships—which is actually the only reason we are here.
All Photos of Michael Mirdad by Dasha Gaian