How Can Your Relationship Become a Garden?
18 Jan 2013

How Can Your Relationship Become a Garden?

I attended a lecture recently by Robert Ketchell, a lifetime practitioner of Japanese gardening. I was immediately captivated by his opening statement that gardening is an underrated skill with vast implications for healing our relationships with each other and the planet. He then went on to outline the principles of Japanese gardening that can be adapted to Western gardens, such as arranging empty space, using asymmetry of materials to create movement and including the viewer as part of the garden.

My mind immediately translated these principles to the world of relationship. Here are some of the key principles Robert discussed with my relationship applications:

  • Honoring open space: Breathing, meditation or other psycho-spiritual practices develops essence connection that fuels the heart of your relationship.
  • Using asymmetry: Recognizing that each partner has different rhythms and growth patterns fosters movement and ongoing learning from each other.
  • Including the viewer: It’s not you and him/her, it’s what goes on between you.
  • Respecting the inherent materials: When you or I deeply listen free of filters and add presence to what a partner is saying, discovery and surprises come through that gate of authenticity.
  • Enclosure: Japanese gardens have boundaries and a special way to enter the space of the garden that evokes an experience of space apart from every day. In relationships we can create this container with clear agreements and enclosing the business items into their own meeting space so that you flourish in the sacred space of your connection.
  • Balancing yin and yang: The health of your close relationships depends on including the urge to merge AND the urge to individuate, which move together in an endless dynamic dance that deepens and expands.
  • The garden is a series of views: Learning to shift your point of view to see things as your partner or friend sees them solves problems more quickly and expands creative possibilities. Each time one of you changes, the relationship shifts and grows. And each time you step into your partner’s perspective you enrich the overall view.

What actions can you take today to turn your relationships into blooming gardens?

Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks

Drs. Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks were two of our featured love luminaries in The Art of Love Relationship Series. If you want to learn more about the series, please click here. Over 50 of the world’s foremost experts on love and relationships shared their most recent wisdom and insights into creating and sustaining deep, connected, passionate relationships. This series was the biggest GLOBAL event on LOVE ever!



Drs. Gay & Kathlyn Hendricks

Bestselling co-authors of Conscious Loving, Attracting Genuine Love and others, as well as co-founders of The Hendricks Institute. Through their appearances on Oprah and other programs, their work has touched millions around the world.