Is your beloved relationship honest, fulfilling and harmonious? Do you often have moments when deep love is flowing between your hearts? Do you wish for more depth, love and understanding?

Communication is a key to a good relationship. There are many books and workshops that model good communication techniques, and I have found these things to be helpful in my 35-year marriage. My husband and I have learned how to speak civilly, to listen to each other and how to fight fair. We developed a foundation of honesty and harmony that worked well. And yet, after a while it felt flat and we weren't really deepening.

Wise communication had gotten us only so far. In the past 7 years, since becoming students of Shadhiliyah Sufism, our relationship has evolved to a whole new level, one which we never read or heard about in any books or workshops. What has made the difference? It is our connection with God deep within our hearts. This is now the foundation of our marriage and the springboard of our communication.

As a way of helping people to create loving and spiritual relationships with their beloveds, we have outlined a seven-step process. To learn about all of these steps, we invite you to join a teleclass on this topic. Refer to the website for a schedule of these teleclasses.

This article addresses one of the seven steps: heart-to-heart communication. The Sufis say, "Mind speaks to mind; heart speaks to heart; and soul speaks to soul." This means that where you are "coming from" inside determines what level you are able to reach and touch in another. If you communicate from your mind, you will reach the mind of your partner. Mind level communication is the most common mode in our culture, and generally leads to differences of personality, attitude and opinion, not to love and harmony, which is what we all are yearning for in our beloved relationships. Generally, in this type of relationship, both partners feel unmet, misunderstood, and unfulfilled. Each one's needs and desires remain unheard and unsatisfied.

Heart level communication leads to deep understanding, compassion and eventually unconditional love. It is the beginning stage of moving beyond the needs and desires of the ego and personality. It is the world of true giving, where the other's welfare matters more than your own, where you want for another at least what you want for yourself. Soul level communication takes the relationship even further toward the Divine, but that is a topic for another article.

The first step in developing heart-to-heart communication is to establish an authentic connection with the Divine in your heart. The Remembrance is a spiritual practice that opens your heart and connects you to the Divine, which gives a deep internal taste of peace, love and mercy. The Remembrance opens an infinite well of Divine Love that exists within the heart. (If you are unfamiliar with the Remembrance, attend a free teleclass on the Remembrance or go to our Reading Room on the website, and read the articles on Remembrance).

While making that Divine connection, your heart flows out to your partner and holds him/her in love and acceptance, regardless of his/her state or emotion, even if it's anger. We call this "containment." This has an immediate effect on the other: usually s/he is surprised, perhaps even scared at first, because it's so new. Most of us as children weren't lovingly held by the hearts of our parents when we were very upset, angry or irritable. Usually being contained in this way is a new experience. After this, if s/he continues to feel held and accepted, his/her heart starts to melt and to long for the warmth and love that is flowing toward him/her. At this point, the relationship drops to a new level, where love matters more than whatever was happening earlier.

Most squabbles in relationship stem from two people who need to be right, but are caught in differences and disagreement. Focusing on the differences is what keeps the relationship grounded in the ego and limits the relationship. In our teaching, you can either be right or be in the love, but not both at the same time. When love supercedes and begins to meet the needs of the heart, the need to be right dissolves. This is a major turning point in any relationship.

It is the Divine connection that allows you to hold your partner in unconditional love and helps you transcend the differences in the ego. The spiritual connection can help you move past differences and trouble spots. To move past all the challenges in relationship, a connection to a love that is bigger than the petty differences is essential, and the spiritual connection creates the Divine container that holds the relationship in unconditional love.

While it is helpful for both partners to have a connection with God, it is not necessary. The relationship will grow in intimacy even if only one partner knows how to make the spiritual connection.

The second step in heart-to-heart communication builds on the first. It is developing the ability to understand what your partner is feeling and seeing behind the words that are spoken. In other words, learning to read the messages of the deeper heart.

For example: Partner A may say, "Leave me alone. I need some space." Partner B normally would respond, "Fine. You always want to be alone. You can have as much space as you want!"

If you follow the outer message of the words, you will most likely leave your partner alone, and in many cases you'll feel hurt and rejected because s/he doesn't want to be together in that moment. The outer personality and mind are listening and responding to each other in this case. We have all experienced similar situations where an unspoken message was actually driving the behavior. In this situation, nothing is resolved. No intimacy. In fact, one more hurt may easily occur to damage the relationship and create more distance.

However, when Partner B goes into remembrance, s/he may detect behind these words a deeper message saying, "I am afraid to show you who I really am. If I am alone, I don't risk being hurt. I really want you to accept me for who I am." Or, "I'm really stressed right now and overwhelmed with my workload, and I'm scared that if I make a connection with you, I'll fall even more behind schedule."

Partner A says, "Leave me alone. I need some space."

Partner B goes into remembrance and, through her connection with God, s/he extends her heart to her partner's heart and listens from that place. Still in remembrance, she asks God for guidance as to what the partner's heart needs. No words need to be spoken between the partners at this point. Whatever you hear is what you act upon. And watch how the other person reacts.

In this case Partner B may respond warmly by bringing the other a cup of tea as a gesture of caring without any demands or conditions. I myself have experienced this change of reaction to my partner, and have found that the cup of tea response melts his heart and dissolves his stress just enough to make a brief, but loving, connection. After that we both go our way grounded in more love and safety. When we feel seen, held and heard by our partner from a place of unconditional love and acceptance, we are safe to be authentic and honest, and genuine intimacy can develop.

Let's try it. Go ahead and place yourself in the situation above as Partner B, the giver. Now say the remembrance for a few minutes until you begin to feel the presence of love or peace. Good. Now, extend your heart to Partner A, and just feel/see/hear/perceive the person's heart. How does that heart feel to you? Does there seems to be a color, sound, texture, or emotion? What do you notice? Begin to say the Name of God into whatever you perceive. Now you can give what you feel is needed nonverbally by flowing it from your heart to the heart of the other. In a way this is a form of prayer.

When you establish the Divine connection within yourself FIRST, and then extend your heart to your partner, the needs of your ego are diminished because you feel fulfilled by the love within. This also allows the relationship to be held in a container of Divine, unconditional love. Your partner wants to know that you will extend your love no matter what. Through this you learn to listen deeply and you know what your partner's heart needs from a deeper perspective; you have more insight. Immediately, the situation and the relationship are infused with compassion, forgiveness, wisdom, guidance, tolerance, patience, strength, etc. In time, if not immediately, Partner A will respond to this new way of communicating and will melt into the love.

Learning to communicate heart-to-heart does not happen over-night. This communication style involves deepening your heart and developing your insight through a Divine connection. The key is letting whatever you perceive be influenced and affected by the Divine reality. It takes time and practice to develop this spiritual connection and follow that guidance. It begins with learning to hold yourself in compassion, because whatever you give yourself is what you can give to others. As you set the commitment to develop this spiritual connection and extend it to others, you will be amazed at the beauty that begins to unfold. This level of communication will transform your relationships and bring you both into a world of richness, joy, and beautiful intimacy!

Author's Bio: 

Nura works with many children, families, couples and organizations as a spiritual healer, educator, counselor and mediator. She chairs the Department of Spiritual Peacemaking in the Sufi Way at the University of Spiritual Healing & Sufism. After her graduate training in humanistic education, Nura taught in the private and public sectors, innovating numerous pivotal programs for children. She co-founded two alternative schools, and was director of one for 12 years. She is especially inspired to help restore love and peace to families and to guide her clients to heal so they can bring more love and peace into our world. She is passionately committed to family healing and world peace.