Relatefulness offers a unique insight into personal and interpersonal development, rooted in the practice of bringing attention to the present moment quality of relating. This practice often leads to non-religious and non-dogmatic mystical experiences of oneness, nonduality, and ego-transcendence. Participants develop desirable qualities such as compassion, wisdom, empathy, self-responsibility, forgiveness, gratitude, truth-telling, and waking up to their identity as presence or awareness of awareness.
We hold these insights lightly and demand that they are put into practice in relationships both inside and outside of the narrow container of practice to verify their validity and usefulness. (Your life should get better, and others outside of yourself should be able to see it! This also keeps us honest—we're less prone to spiritual bypass or ego-inflation although we're human, so it sure still happens!). Our Integral Theory inspired frame of reference understands that all perspectives have some bit of truth, and none have the whole shebang—including this one. This allows the practice to work well within and alongside a variety of spiritual and secular contexts, from Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, and Judaism to psychotherapy, ecology, coaching, and justice.
We hope that the Relateful Company can bridge mysticism into the mainstream with this attitude, promoting personal and interpersonal growth through this practice. For a more grounded sense of what this feels like, please enjoy Facilitator Will Jefferson's first hand accounts of relatefulness and spirituality:
The Questions That Call Us Home
Written by Will Jefferson
“What does spirituality mean to me”, I thought, as I was walking home on a crisp February evening. I was feeling purposeful, energised by a trip to the cinema and half a litre of Pepsi Max.
I started tracking grand themes and specific memories, assembling them in my mind’s eye with all the excitement of a scientist envisioning a new breakthrough.
And then, as I approached my house, I met a man trying to exit through my front gate as I was trying to enter it. He was, I guessed, staying in the AirBnB that my family runs in the basement.
We began talking. He had just flown in from Australia. He was visiting Chichester, the small city in Southern England where I live, for the first time in twenty years, having resided here for some time earlier in his life.
I wondered, “What would the city feel like to him, as he walked around?”. And, “What would it be like to rediscover a place - changed yet still so familiar - after so many years away?”
I enjoyed getting this momentary glimpse of his life. A man who moved to Australia from the UK, and who was now on a trip to visit his son who had just made the move in the opposite direction.
We chatted for a few minutes before he wandered off into the night to find dinner, perhaps from the nearby fish and chip shop.
I know what it is to explore spirituality in solitude.
At meditation retreats, I have sat in silence for days on end. I have spent weeks walking alone on the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route across Northern Spain. Much of my daily life is spent patiently trying to befriend my inner world.
And I know what it is to explore spirituality in a community that asks its members to endorse specific beliefs and ideas. I know what it is to be pushed to believe a definitive story about the world and who created it, about what goodness is, and about who is good and who isn’t.
My longing now is for adventures in spirituality that are both collaborative and free from the confines of any particular belief system. This is what I find in “relatefulness”. We meet in a spirit of openness, curiosity and co-creation.
The constant invitation is to pay attention to what we are experiencing from moment to moment. It is to look beyond our ideas and preconceptions, and to make space for what we find beyond them.
We do the practice together because it cannot be done alone. Only by amplifying each other’s courage, curiosity and insight can we find the capacity to keep going.
When I was eleven, my father died suddenly from a heart attack.
I have spent much of my life, including three university degrees in philosophy, trying to make sense of that event, and of the weeks and months that followed it.
In my view, one of the great promises of spirituality is to help us live alongside death. It is to give us tools to keep breathing and working and loving, even if the people we love can “disappear” without warning.
Before my father was cremated, I had an opportunity, with my mother and brother, to visit his body. Of course, this was an agonisingly difficult experience, full of shock and horror, rage and grief.
And, as I looked down on his body in the coffin, I experienced a remarkable opening. It was as if a hole had been torn through the model I had of the world, and I could see through it to something else.
What I saw was awful. It was the reality of how fragile we are as human beings.
It was also beautiful. I realised that, no matter what changes in life, there is always some sustaining force that is available to us. It does not matter whether you call it goodness or love, wisdom or hope, God or devotion. What matters is that it is always available to us, and that it has the power to transform our lives.
I find it so much easier accessing this force when I am in connection with other people.
Before I started training as a facilitator in “Relatefulness”, I had a call with one of the leaders to discuss whether the training programme would be a good fit for me. It was, after all, a huge investment, costing several thousand pounds and requiring hundreds of hours of practice over a nine month period.
As I met the teacher, I found myself thinking of a poem by Mary Oliver called The Journey.
It begins, “One day, you finally knew what you had to do, and began”.
It is a poem about walking home.
The trouble is, the poem tells us, this journey asks us to leave the comfort of the place we have formerly been calling home, and to venture out into a stormy wilderness. Only with time will we overcome our disorientation and find the way to our new home.
Simply in the act of recalling this poem, I felt like I was coming home. I knew that this practice was one that would take me where I wanted to go. I signed up for the training.
And, I realise, I only remembered the poem because of who I was meeting. She helped that poem emerge into my consciousness in that way, at that time.
There was something in her journey that spoke to something in mine.
We are all on a journey of some form or other.
We all have experiences of spirituality, ranging from the awful to the sublime.
We all have moments that keep us going in our daily lives, whether it's making vegetable soup, taking a deeper breath on the first sunny afternoon of spring, or teaching your toddler how to tie their shoelaces.
In relatefulness, we do not dwell in abstract debates about what spirituality is.
Instead, we meet in the ever changing details of our lives. One person might join a session reverberating from an argument with a family member. Another might be feeling shock from a recent news event. Another might be full of joy after being promoted at work.
We meet to hear each other and to get to know each other as we are.
And we meet to challenge each other, to take risks and make mistakes.
Through it all, we keep asking: what are we experiencing as we are here with one another? And what matters to us?
These are the questions that call us home.
What does spirituality mean for you?
"These experiences cause my universe to expand and be richer. I know more of myself when I see another who sees me and offers me a mirror to see myself."
"Being relateful is being with what's present in me, what's present in you, and what is here between us right now. It's a presence practice and an invitation to be with everything that arises, including any resistance to just that."
"Level Up literally changed my life."
“What blew me away the most about it is how… it inevitably goes into every part of my life.”
"I’ve really matured as a person and have met tons of highly conscious-minded people!"
"I can’t remember a time in my life where I’ve been in such a challenging learning environment while being supported and cheered on along the way."
"...A paradigm that has shifted my entire life and the way I communicate and move through the world. It is a practice that I wish everyone would have."
"Being relateful is one of the most valuable and impactful emotional practices I've encountered. When I started in 2015, it seemed to be a possible solution to many of my social bottlenecks as a person with Asperger's Syndrome. Within a couple of months, I had a couple dozen skills and abilities that I did not have prior."
"Dying and birthing at a very high frequency. Embodied awakening in the context of a collective."
"This to me is a profound tool for introspection and personal development… and also a precious and beautiful practice in being awake to every moment.... and surrendering… and aliveness.... and more!"
"It’s a playground for embodied learning. A place to walk towards my deepest fears in good company, to take ownership for my shadows, and come into healthy relationship with everything, within and without. It’s a wondrous adventure, bringing me into deep humility and awe on a regular basis. It’s life condensed. It’s what i've been longing for, for a long time, and what I want to share with as many people as I can."
"I practice being more fully myself. I see myself more fully. I let what's arising in me be more fully okay, be it, allow it, share it… what's happening in me, what responses and reactions I'm having. I see and seek what I'm wanting, needing, yearning for. I see how my experience of the world shifts when I orient on my connection with specific people, with the whole group, when I orient on myself and my experience."
"I LOVE getting to immerse with people from all over the world. And them still in their all over the world-ness."
"A way of being my truest self, a way of deeply connecting to people, to life, to love. This teaches me and reminds me of my surrender to what is."
"At the simplest level, it is a meditation practice where the focus of my attention is on my experience of me, my expression of me, my experience of us, my expression of us, and my experience of you."
"A relational meditation where we get closer to who we really are in compassionate connection with self and others. It is a space where I am becoming kinder while learning to flex relational norms (i.e. becoming less "nice"). It is a process where the life that wants to be lived in each of us can find room to breathe and unfurl."
"A life practice, to become more present, more here, to develop my capacity to love and live fully, to share and co-create reality, make the unconscious conscious, find my essence and connect to the essence in others, and to embrace and appreciate the humanness in us all. And that is to me a practice of healing."