What follows are the individual titles and some of the central ideas of both the lectures and their corresponding experiential groups included in the basic structure of the program.
This structure can be varied according to the each time needs and goals, by adjusting
the individual titles,
the content and
the number of the sections included.
The program’s general perspective is based on some fundamental ideas.
One of them is that the relationship is seen as a coral human need, emerging from the nature and the way of functioning of the human psyche itself.
The relationship is seen as a very special “space”, as a unique level of existence. This “space” in the “between” of the persons involved in relationship is something more than the plain numeric sum of these persons, and is composed bodily, emotionally and mentally by the persons engaged in their meeting.
Furthermore, it seems that the relationship is in a way “happening” beyond our expectations to fulfill our ideals about princes and princesses.
Besides, the relationship manifests several needs. It needs to be taken care of; it needs to be trusted in its endurance because it constantly changes; it needs certain frames to get its shape, depending on its each time nature.
And mainly the relationship is not identical with closeness. Rather, it can flourish when we accept our differences, when we become flexible enough to move “towards” or distancing “from” the Other, in an eternal dance of closeness and moving away.
Another fundamental idea in this material is that our tendency to relate between us may originate from our relational nature, however, it is manifested in several ways.
Some of these ways are determined by our need for psychic closeness, our need to love and to be loved, to walk in life “together” with the Other, to share with him/her our world, to receive and offer care and protection.
Some other of our aspects are determined by our need to transcend our personal boundaries and our differences with the Other, by throwing ourselves right into the overwhelming whirl and the colorful mist of eros.
And some other of our aspects are based on our need to seek our chthonic roots, to experience the primary vitality characterizing our sexual Self. And all these needs seem to converse within the general frame made up by the universal human need for safety and developing systems of bond and attachment.
The core of all 5 cycles is the idea that love in the intimate longterm committed relationship, eros (“being in love”), and sexual desire, represent different needs and areas of our existence.
This means that these needs flourish on different grounds – the ground that is nutritional for one may be toxic for the other. In any case, it is impossible to overemphasize one of these needs in order to satisfy the others from the “surplus” (no matter how much we eat our thirst remains thirst).
However, our technocratic and consumer societies, in order to survive, create an illusional “ideal” icon of a relationship, in which all these needs should by satisfied by our partner constantly, for ever and always fully successfully.
Today, eros, love, desire, are often squeezed in a merciless Procrustean mentality, in an attempt to smooth out their crucial inherent differences.
In this program, it is very important exactly the opposite perspective.
All 5 cycles attempt respectfully and carefully to see, to explore the individual nature of each one of these needs.
This attempt is based on the belief that for each one of us, accepting the differences between these needs, is a key to find out creatively what to do with them and their controversy.
Another coral idea of this material is that existential loneliness (this not describable yet common and deep sense of a peculiar kind of “distance” from the Others), is different from the interpersonal loneliness (our isolation from the Others).
Neurophysiological researches, today, indicate that our existential loneliness seem to be a result of our own human construction, of the way that our brains function in order to compose the stream of our experience and f our Self-sense.
So, it seems that the loneliness of our existence is a result of our own nature.
And this can be okay, no matter if the consumer culture insists closing its eyes and cursing this fundamental human characteristic, creating panic and guilt, isolating whoever dares to accept it; to accept it not for fighting it, but just in order to attempt to create a happy life within the possibilities for healthy relationships emerging out of such an acceptance.
Accepting my existential loneliness, means opening towards the interpersonal relationship with the Other, without assigning to him the heavy task of relieving me from the loneliness of human existence. It is us who interpersonally eliminate the Other when we see him obliged to be always here for us, exactly as we need him to be, for as much as we wish him to be – not literally as “Other” but as a medicine to our inability to accept our own nature.
So, from everyday experience, it seems that when we say the word “relationship”, we often do not know what we are exactly meaning.
And finally, is it possible to be somehow together with the Other? And if yes, what does it mean “together”?
In any case, today, a new certainty is emerging: we, humans, exactly because of our relational nature, we are capable to build very beautiful interpersonal relationships, no matter if the fact of our existential loneliness remains always insupportable.
But at first, we have to confirm our differentiation from the Other and her/his autonomy; and we have to cease considering the Other responsible for our failure to “win over” this unspoken but often torturing sense of loneliness in every moment of any kind of relationship with the “Other”.
The sections of the Program
(1) “Illusions about loneliness and myths about relating”
It seems that each one of us is “by design” a unique being – and so a king in her/his personal kingdom of one resident… who is the king himself.
It could probably be said that we live amidst of a personal “cosmic silence”.
Sometimes we often try to fill up this silence with screams and noises that are even themselves silent in their vanity.
Some other times we see the Other becoming an objet to be used in order to fill our own emptiness.
Thus, between the ancient human terrors confirmed by our times, there is our primary agony that we are not only born and die existentially alone, but we are also living all our lives alone,“by design”.
And if we consider our existential loneliness as something that has to be canceled through the Other, we are overwhelmed by despair, since it is impossible to annihilate what we “by definition” are.
And the more we insist to cut off this basic human characteristic, the more we fail and become angry with life.
How do we manage to tragically confuse existential with interpersonal loneliness?
How the consumer culture suggests that the Other exists just to offer us whatever we did not get from life, whatever we now need, and whatever we are going to need in the future?
(2) “The dancing Shadows in the experience of eros: a celebration without celebrants, a mourning without anyone dead”
One basic human characteristic seem to be our need to transcend our boundaries and instantly delete all our differences with any Other, diving in the intoxicating experience of eros.
In eros there is a figural element: an almost metaphysic sense of deep harmony and intimacy not justifiable by the how long and how much we know the Other.
Moreover, to the Other’s touch we feel our body re-configured; the Other instills beauty and power onto every one of our bodies’ cells; and a sense of sanctity spreads like a healing mist over whatever we do together.
Yet, in eros there a lot of controversies.
A fundamental one, is that eros often seems to suffocate in longer and stable relationships, becoming even a threat instead of a vital force between life-companions.
Moreover, how is it possible that in eros, its ending is almost its only one constant feature?
Why eros is always combined with a kind of a sweet-bitter taste, an underlying sense of death, deception, loss, betrayal and disappointment, while at the same time, no matter its ending, it is so regenerating and refreshing with such an overwhelming life-breeze?
What is truly the loss for which the enamored is mourning with such heartbreaking tears?
How the enamored can continue and into what kind of course? Who are really the figures in the wedding celebrations of eros?
Who meets whom?
Is it true that time freezes for the prince and the princess on the moment of kissing at the “happy end” in fairy tales?
And why we do not care at all to see what happened thirty years after the brave prince woke up the Sleeping Beauty?
(3) “The power of the ancient wolf in the sexual Self”
Our species evolved in a way that we are able to conceive highly abstract concepts, to structure complex lines of thought, to experience subtle nuances of very deep feelings.
However, no matter these evolvements, we include in our being all our developmental layers; and we are strongly influenced by needs emerging also out of such layers, and not only from what we call “higher” levels of existing.
So, no matter how we relate with the Other, we are always embodied beings having in our fundaments the need to be connected with our chthonic origins, to experience the primary vitality characterizing our sexual Self.
However, some of our needs, are not accepted even by ourselves for several reasons. Such neglected needs have often to do with experiencing our primary vitality in the fundaments of our sexual identity in its several versions.
And this vitality is like an ancient wolf who sometimes nests serene within us and sometimes seeks angrily to be fed.
Why is it so hard to keep healthy this wolf within us without domesticating him in sterilized cages? Without transforming him in a caricature of internet pornography?
Why do we neglect this wolf so easily? What do we do when this wolf maddened by hunger starts devouring our own selves?
And how all this connects with vampires, wear-wolves, thrillers, and the pseudopods permitting the amoeba’s movements?
(4) “…to the heretics of love: the long, intimate and committed relationship”
Nowadays, the terrors because of our existential loneliness, futility and the brute violence, are covered very effectively behind numerous curtains – say, smiles in customer services, friendships and playful face-book “likes”, etc.
Dead ends are camouflaged well in an elusive “online landscape” promising infinite choices. However, in this virtual digital paradise, the individual suffocates frozen in a constant sense of an invisible.
On such a background, looking for the Other to build together a deep, long, intimate relationship, becomes a first-order need. Yet, the importance of this need, often affects it toxically, both as goal and process.
What do we exactly ask from the Other through a “serious” relationship? Joy, pleasure, safety, making him/her the answer to to what we needed, never got and most probably shall never get?
We ask from the Other to be the perfect companion, the exciting friend, the incomparable lover, our eternally non-stop overwhelming eros, the cooperative father or mother for our children, inexhaustible source of a unique combination of safety and freedom, a partner with whom we take care of our home, pay the bills, go to the supermarket, grow our children, and so on.
And when some items of this agenda are not covered or when we are not happy with the agenda itself, we start blaming the Other or we feel guilty, certain that something goes wrong in our relationship.
But did we ever wonder if being al the time so close to a supposedly “perfect” Other is not a criterion of a “good” relationship? And finally, what is loyalty, faith, trust, betrayal, commitment, explosion and implosion in such a relationship?
Maybe we can learn something about all this if we are brave enough to learn from the betrayal. First from the betrayal of the Other, who insists to be different from our expectations, no matter our wish to be identical, our begging or our threats in order to see him/her fitting in our expectations. And then, from the equally inevitable our own betrayal, since we are also vigorously resisting the Other’s expectations from us…
(5) “The tangible body and the illusional presence of the Other in eros, in love, in sex”
Our body is not only the “body-object” that we can touch and smell. It is also the “lived body”, the medium itself through which we can touch and smell, it is the primary subject of our experience. Our thoughts and feelings, our intentions and wishes, are not intangible entities floating in our head, but hey are bodily founded.
Our stories are engraved on our bodies long before they get shaped in narrations by our mind. And our body does not simply participate in our memories, but it “is” our memory itself.
Moreover, our body generates a whole universe of meanings based on the ways that we stand and move; such meanings affect critically the broader meanings on which we compose mentally and emotionally our experiences of the whole world.
Besides, in our live direct meetings the body does not take an active part only when we touch each other, but carries the 88% of the non verbal and non conscious processes of our encounter.
If we now think that how we are experiencing the Other depends on the shape (the frame) of our relationship, then, we could say that also the embodied aspects of this experience depend on the way with which our relationship evolves.
How are we experiencing our body when in eros with the Other, when we love the Other, when we burn in desire for the Other and we enjoy the sexual touch? How in each one of these situations our hug and our own need to be hugged change? How, and whom we are touching in these situations?
What happens and sometimes, in such experiences, we take care of or abandon in different ways our body? Why is it so important how the first hands that were holding us as babies cooperated with gravity?
And how it happens and finally, no matter how strongly we hug each other as partners, enamored or lovers, we both always remain vague and shadowy, yet always majestic, present and intimate through our absence?