By Jim Leonard
I am blessed with a romantic, loving, mutually supportive marriage. Some of this came about by luck, but that part is not interesting to write about. We have had some serious problems and have separated briefly two or three times. We have had to work to have our wonderful relationship. I hope my wife feels the same way, but I feel that my marriage is the single best thing in my whole life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, not even a longer life.
In this article, I want to write about what we have done that has been so successful at making our relationship such a joy for us. We have done specific self-development processes together, not just vague things like treating each other with respect. In other words, if we perceived that we need to treat each other with respect, we created a process, something with a structure that we would do regularly, that would reliably produce that result.
I am going to write about seven things that we have done that have been very successful at making our relationship work well for us: Vivation, Eyegaze Vivation, Friends Format Vivation, the Buddy-System Process, the Process of Truths, Discovery Writing, and going for walks. I am going to tell how we have done each of these so that you can do them, too. In most cases, I will have to tell you how to prepare and how to learn. In fact in only one case can I give you the COMPLETE instructions you need in order to the process. This is a short article after all. I think that these processes will work for 100% of couples who try them. I cannot really imagine that they might not work for anybody. They do all require willingness, but so does absolutely everything in life.
Vivation is a process you learn from a Vivation Professional that permanently resolves emotions working directly at the feeling level and not using talking at all. It is much more like a meditation than like a therapy. The idea is that for everything in our life we have a feeling, without a single exception. For things that we relate to positively, we have a pleasant feeling, while for things we relate to negatively we have an unpleasant feeling. Vivation is the art and science of changing from a negative relationship to a positive relationship, working directly at the feeling level. It is easy. It is fun. It is pleasurable. It works 100% of the time. It works on everything. It is extremely efficient. It works on the most difficult things that anybody has ever experienced (I used it on being very severely knifed 14 times and almost killed in an attack by a madman high on the drug PCP and I used it on rectal cancer and all the terrible treatment that accompanies that, for example).
Although most people do no really notice it much or use it, we simply have the choice to like (or dislike) anything, completely at will. If I had not chosen to like having the experience of being knifed, I certainly would have been killed. Vivation Professionals all teach you how to develop and use this skill. It is not hard once you practice it and get used to it. I was very enthusiastic about yelling “fire” (which is more effective than yelling “help’), about struggling with him, and with very respectfully (“Sir, you do not wish to be doing this”) talking him out of it. Struggling finally ended the attack when I decided that I would rather loose my left hand than my throat (I did not lose my left hand—the knife blade broke when I grabbed it with my left hand). With Vivation, you can instantly generate enthusiasm about anything. I did it and it saved my life.
I also kept myself very enthusiastic about my life as I was going through cancer treatment, enduring horrible pain, and living with an illeostomy.
Eyegaze Vivation means Viving while maintaining eye contact with another person. You can do this with anybody. It can be done with any number of people, but when the number is over 30, it is necessary to divide into more circles. My wife and I do Eyegaze Vivation in the convenient sized group of two. We do this very much. We always do it for six minutes at a time. Sometimes we talk and then do another session. (This sure beats arguing and substitutes for it perfectly.) Sometimes we just do one session. Sometimes we do many sessions without any talking at all, but always in 6-minutes units. 6 minutes is the right length for a couple doing an Eyegaze session. We do this every day that we are together in the same house. If we are not together in the same house, then we substitute a session of Friends Format Vivation, which I will describe in a separate paragraph. Eyegaze Vivation is fantastic because of the mirror neurons in the brain. We form a kind of brain entrainment that resolves our problems at the feeling level (or makes us closer if there is no problem). It is impossible to do Eyegaze Vivation without doing at least one complete, coached, Vivation session first. The first Vivation session can never be an Eyegaze Session and usually it is better to do several ordinary sessions of closely-coached closed-eye Vivation sessions with a very trained and competent Vivation Professional first before doing an Eyegaze Session. If you cannot cause integration reliably, you are making a mistake to do Eyegaze Vivation with your partner. Eyegaze Vivation is always done in absolute silence: laughing is OK, farting is OK, but speaking is never OK during an Eyegaze Session.
Friends Format Vivation is named in honor of The Society of Friends (the Quakers) because we conduct our sessions very much in the way that they conduct their religious services. They do not have a pastor or leader. Instead, they just sit in contemplative silence (the sessions I attended in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, were in a circle). When someone feels inspired to say something, he says it, for the benefit of the entire group.
Friends Format Vivation is the same. You can have you eyes either open or closed. Vivation has something wonderful called “coaching” in which suggestions are given intuitively to do something on the inside in order to get more from the session. In Vivation, the exact same suggestion is always the perfect one for every participant, no matter how large the group. It just works that way. If you were to do some Vivation sessions, you would understand this perfectly intuitively, but probably not rationally or in a way you could explain well. When one of us travels away from home, and sometimes when we are at home to supplement our Eyegaze Vivation, we do Friends Format Vivation. It works fine on the telephone thousands of miles apart. This way, we always get some Vivation together EVERY DAY whether we are in the same house or not. This is not a secret. We tell people that we do this. But it is one of the most important reasons why we have such a tremendously successful and loving marriage.
The Buddy-System Communication Process is not only for romantic partners but also for business partners, handball partners, and for all people who have a close relationship of any kind. The main point of it is to keep “control patterns” from interfering in the enjoyment of the relationship. I wrote extensively about control patterns in my first book, Vivation—The Science of Enjoying All of Your Life. The issue of control patterns came up for me first in the situation of people trading Vivation sessions with each other on a regular basis. Control patterns are not necessarily bad or nefarious things. Simply everybody prefers to be treated in some ways by a person than in another way. The things we do to assure these results sometimes cause trouble, but only in the situation where a person is doing something for one reason and pretending to be doing it for another reason. The Buddy-System Process eliminates that. The Buddy-System Process is very polite and friendly and clears up control patterns so that they do not interfere with any kind of activity or relationship. The entire process is word-for-word in my first book. Do the process with your husband or wife. It might be a little bit scary the first time, but your relationship will be cleaner and fresher immediately after finishing.
The Process of Truths is a way of reminding yourself of the wonderful truth instead of getting bogged down in foolish negativity. Truths have technique to them and can be done in ways that are very efficient and make a huge difference very quickly. I’ll give you an example. Suppose a husband finds himself saying to himself, “My wife is not all that bright. She is a little bit stupid sometimes.” That is absolutely false! His wife is a human being! All human beings are supremely smart! Besides, she was smart enough to marry him! But the human mind is such that it can get foolish, false, negativity circulating in it. (In this case the husband is actually being a little bit stupid, but that is a different matter.) The husband will be very wise to write simply some repetitions of *MY WIFE IS OBVIOUSLY ONE OF THE MOST INTELLIGENT CREATURES EVER TO WALK THE EARTH”. If he does this for ten minutes, both husband and wife will become very much smarter. Many other things could be said about the Process of Truths, but I think this is sufficient for this simple article. Do not get bogged down with foolish negativity.
Discovery Writing is a process for becoming more creative. Second only to Vivation, it is the most powerful process of self-development in existence. It is very simple to use, but I want to be very careful not to oversimplify it for this article. It can be taught in 15 minutes on the phone and then it will serve you forever and give you creativity for solving problems and achieving goals reliably every time, whether they are relationship problems or another kind.
I imagine that many of you already improve your relationship regularly by going for walks. It is not even really a creative enough topic to include in this article, but I get so much benefit from it that I simply feel I have to include it. We try to go for a walk every day, although, frankly, we don’t quite achieve that standard. But some days we go for two walks. Walking is good for the whole body and the whole nervous system. It facilitates talking in a relaxed and enjoyable way. We often see things together of great beauty, but most especially one another.
Jim Leonard was the originator of the Vivation process. During his life he conducted more than 45,000 Vivation sessions in 22 countries.