01.12.2016 Relationships

Creating Great Relationships

Only when we feel connected within our self can we find happiness with another, says Oriental practitioner Ken McLean

The first step in having a great relationship with someone else is to first have a great relationship with our self. When we are unified and connected to who we really are, all leaning, dependency and neediness disappears out of our interaction with our partner. We can then fully contribute with a light touch to the joy and harmony of that relationship.

In understanding the Four Relationships, the primary and first relationship is that of self. The principle relating to self is unification. This is the original purpose of meditation, yoga and internal martial arts such as Aikido and Tai Chi - to express our deeper eternal spiritual self through our body and personality. This is one of the meanings of “bringing forth one’s full potential”.

When we are centered and aligned there is a deep feeling of connectedness or oneness.

This is like having a prior place of fulfillment. When we lose this state of connectedness, we begin to seek that feeling externally. Since true happiness is related to our relationship with this self, when we seek it externally, it’s like a dog chasing its tail - nothing can ever deliver it.


In the art of Aikido, which means “the way of harmonising with the energy of the universe”, the first victory is called self victory. Aikido as a martial art is based on harmonising with the attacker and returning them to a centred state without harming them. To attack a truly competent Aikidoist is like attacking the ocean. Firstly, it’s hard to keep the attack going and secondly it feels good. This is because the Aikidoist offers no resistance and positively harmonises with where you want to go.


This harmonising is called blending. Blending is the art of deeply feeling the other person’s energy and joining and contributing in the direction it wants to go. Doing this opens up deeper communication and connection. It dissolves tension and resistance and creates a deeper feeling of oneness with our partner.

Aikido teaches that before we can blend and help the other person win, we need to win over our lower mind - this is called the first victory.In simple terms, it means being centered.Centering is a way of connecting to our deeper spirit through our body and being strongly grounded. Such connectedness to something deeper in our selves allows us to totally relax and be able to yield to the other person even when they are attacking us. This is because attack really is a plea, a request to be returned to centre.When we take things personally, tense up, get upset and argue back, we’ve lost our centre and can no longer influence the relationship back to harmony.


Yielding and absorbing energy is an ability that comes out of practising the principle of the Four Relationships.There is something called downward energy that relates to the ability to release all tension and flexibly bend through a connection to ground.

In ancient times, a martial arts practitioner founded the system based on watching trees in a snowstorm. Many of the trees that would not bend would break under the pressure of the snow and wind. But a certain tree would pliably bend under the snow’s pressure and then at the extreme point of pliability would spring back to the upright position, projecting the snow far away. It could do this because it was supple and flexible and didn’t hold its position in a rigid way. More importantly, it could yield and surrender fully because of its roots and strong connection to the earth.

On an energetic level, there are several principles that we need to understand and embody to create a great relationship. The first is to unify our self, to be centered and aligned with our deeper self so we are connected to our calmness and security.

Being in our prior place of fulfillment means we don’t need anything outside our self and so can bring a lighter touch and greater creativity in our interaction with our partner. The second principle is to blend with the intention, words, feelings and actions of our partner whilst keeping our connection to ground. Thirdly, release all tension, not hold on to things and forgive quickly and we can do this through understanding downward energy.

Ultimately, all interactions we have in life become an opportunity to practise and create wonderful outcomes. As we develop this art, motion and flow are created and our goal to create great relationships is deeply enhanced.

Ken McLean

Sydney-based Ken McLean is the author of Harmony is Success (Short Stop Press $29.99) and founder of Shin Sen Dojo, a holistic centre for the development of body, mind, and spirit. Ken has helped thousands of people achieve greater health, harmony, happiness and success through the programs he runs and personal consultations.For more information about Harmony is Success, visit www.shortstoppress.com