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Heart & Soul
Living the Joy, Truth and Beauty of Your Intimate Relationship
By DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA
Red Wheel/Weiser, LLCCopyright © 1995 Daphne Rose Kingma
All rights reserved.
The Joy of Love
Happiness is the joy of the heart; joy is the happiness of the soul
Appreciate the Moment
This moment, this day, this relationship, and this life are all exquisite, unique, and unrepeatable. There will be no moment exactly like this one (the yellow light spilling in through the thin white louvers on the window, the sound of the men at work in the street and, in the living room, of the pages of the newspaper turning). There will be no day that repeats precisely the sweet events of this day (the waking and sleeping, the beautiful dreams before waking, the precious and even the ordinary conversations, the clothes you have chosen to wear, and the way that today you are wearing them; the way the wind is today, clattering the shutters, scattering the leaves, the thoughts–all sixty thousand of them–that have passed like bright kites through your mind).
There will be no love, no dearly beloved, exactly like this one (the man who pronounces your name in just such a way, with his beautiful voice; the man who brings flowers, whose words move your heart so tremblingly softly, whose arms hold you this way and that way, embracing, consoling, protecting; the woman whose fragrance enchants you, whose head on your chest when you sleep is the sweet weight of bliss, whose kisses are blessings, whose laughter is sunlight, whose smile is pure grace).
There will be no lifetime exactly like this one, no other, not ever again, not this birth, not this particular story, this mother and father, these houses and walls, these strangers and friends–and how we moved through it all, with such beauty, touching each other, dancingly stepping, curtsying, bowing across all the stages, filling the rooms of our lives with this joy, this sweet love....
There will be no other way to live this life, only the way you have chosen to live it, only the way that, moment by moment, you fill up its houses and cradles and baskets, its cupboards and drawers–with which beautiful things, what small scraps and treasures–and only the way that you fill up your heart–with what feelings, which lovely emotions—and the memory of her standing there, in the light, by the window, her blonde hair in sunlight ... and the image of him standing there and saying, "always, forever, till death do us part"–and your mind–with what words, which endlessly coddled concerns, what difficult puzzles and brilliant solutions, what emptiness ... waiting for God.
This moment, this day, this relationship, this life are all unique, exquisite, unrepeatable, live every moment as if you, indelibly, knew this.
Aspire to a Spiritual Relationship
To have a spiritual relationship is to consciously acknowledge that above all we are spiritual beings and that the process of our spiritual refinement is our true undertaking in this life. When you have a spiritual relationship, you choose to embody this truth in love. You shift context and focus. Whereas an emotional relationship has as its focus the contents of the relationship itself, a spiritual relationship sees the spirit's well-being and the soul's journey as its overriding undertaking. Whereas the romantic relationship operates in time, the spiritual union has timeless infinity as its context. Rather than framing itself in life, on earth, it knows that we are all far more than we appear to be and it joyfully claims as its territory a cosmos that radiates and scintillates, that includes an infinity of angels, and all the stunning coincidental events that are the mysterious instruments of God.
When you love one another in spirit, along with loving, desiring, cherishing, adoring, and protecting your beloved, you will also be the champion of your beloved's spiritual well-being, ensuring that she will make the choices that will allow for her soul's evolution. This may mean creating a quiet environment in which your spirits can flourish, or doing those things–meditating, praying, throwing away the television set—that will encourage a reunion of your souls.
To have an intimate relationship that is also spiritual defies our Western ordinary thinking, for in a spiritual relationship we are not seeking the satisfactions of the ego in a conventional way. Instead, we are aware that we are spirits and that we are on the spirit's journey.
The spiritual relationship is gracious, easy, considerate, and kind. Because it has stepped off the merry-go-round of ego concerns, it can be generous and patient, can behold the beloved not just as a person doing this or that, but as a soul on a journey. For, to the spiritually beloved there is always a sense of this greater focus. Because of it, each action and experience takes on a different coloration. The disappointments of the moment and even the tragedies of a lifetime are seen not as happenings which are absolutes in themselves but finite, irritating specks on the larger screen of vision.
A great spiritual love does not exclude the psychological and physical–in any spiritual relationship the partners will always support each other in these realms with healing and attention–but when you love one another in the spirit, your love will also be a reminder of the infinite context, the true destination. Remembering this will give your love an exalted, crystalline, and truly luminous quality. For if your emotional relationship is a jewel, then your spiritual relationship is the light that shines through it.
When we think of being with one another emotionally, we ordinarily think of empathizing with one another in times of pain or misery. While it's certainly true that in our sufferings we have a great need for empathy, we also need positive empathy–rejoicing–a delighted feeling with, for all our joys.
Rejoicing is feeling joy, allowing the feelings of exhilaration and delight to enter your being and fill you with a fine, ecstatic sense of celebration. We all need to rejoice, to slather ourselves with exultation, because life is hard, and at times our paths are very difficult. We need to rejoice because joy is our true state of being, and when we rejoice we return to it for a moment. We need to rejoice because there isn't enough rejoicing in the world. And we need to rejoice together because in this world of self-involvement and nonstop competition, it's often hard to find a kindred soul with whom to rejoice.
Rejoicing is empathy at the encouraging end of the spectrum, and although you may think it's easier to rejoice than to commiserate with someone, rejoicing, too, can be difficult. As a matter of fact, a lot of people feel so defeated in their own lives that instead of being able to celebrate with anyone else, they feel jealousy or self-pity. Indeed, unless you've really been able to feel your own joy, you may have a difficult time rejoicing, even with your beloved.
So in order to rejoice together—to double your joy, to share your beloved's pleasures, and truly celebrate them–allow yourself to rejoice first of all in your own life, about all the things that delight you, that brighten your day, that make your heart glad. Celebrate your victories, exult in your own achievements. Then you'll be well prepared to really rejoice with your sweetheart.
Rejoicing together is breathing in joy, being together at the moment of beauty (of soul-washing tears, of life-changing praise), in the hour of unbridled happiness, of sweet–or stunning—success. It is to be the loving witness at the epiphany of a talent (his book; her photography exhibit; his all-star game; her tennis match), to celebrate special occasions: birthdays, anniversaries, life achievement awards. It is also to rejoice in all the cycles of your love–times and years you have shared, crises you have lived through, reunions that rekindled your love, and even all the good fights and their healing resolutions.
We must rejoice together because rejoicing begets itself. It brings us more joy, more hilarity, a greater sense that life is radiance, splendor, pleasure, and fun. So one by one and, above all, together, rejoice!
Open to the Ecstatic Energy
Life is breath, movement. So long as you are capable of movement, you inhabit life and the energy of life inhabits you. In this state, every step you take, every word you utter, every thought that passes through the electronic magic circuitry of your brain, and every single gesture you enact is an expression of your vivid aliveness, a sign that you are a mortal, alive human being.
In relationships, we join these energies with one another through passion and affection. Sexuality and sensuality are the media of our passionate connection, the arena where flesh and spirit meet; and affection is the medium through which we express our fond, caring love.
Sometimes in our overemphasis on verbal communication, we forget that we are also bodies and that as physical beings, too, we have a unique and powerful language. In our bodies, we "feel" and know things often before we can even begin to articulate them. Through our bodies, we share our love in an immediate, instinctual way that conveys a depth of feeling beyond words.
The language of the body is this energy, the invisible ecstatic pulse which is the essence of life itself. We often think of our aliveness only as form-the bodies we inhabit-and not as the force of life, or energy, that flows through them. In so doing, we miss the opportunity to feel our own aliveness, and, in relationship, to be nourished by that mysterious spiritual commodity that is another person's "energy." Yet it is precisely the "energy"–of a city, a person, a particular piece of music or an emotional exchange–that actually moves us at the deepest level. Nothing reveals this more clearly than a body which, through illness, is being drained of its energetic essence, and no one demonstrates the existence of this energy more beautifully than children.
In our intimate relationships, when we shift our attention from the material form–what we look like, what we're wearing, how in or out of shape we are–and move it into the energetic realm, we enter the grand, new, mystical arena in which we experience love itself as an expression of this energy. Instead of feeling it only as an emotion, we sense it also as a mystic invisible pulse, the heart-filling throb, the luminous shivers that tell our bodies we have truly "felt" our love.
To move your consciousness from the awareness of substance to energy, and to seek the persons whose energy, for you, is ecstatic, is to immediately expand your repertoire of love. When you do, you will not only be able to talk about the love you feel, you will actually be able to "feel" it as the tingling, brilliant, ecstatic life essence in your body. So open your heart–and every cell of your being—to the luminous life-changing wisdom that is your soul's ecstatic energy.
Stop Trying So Hard
Most of us conduct our lives primarily through a combination of effort, exertion, and ambition: If I work hard, then ... If it's very difficult, then ... If I keep at it, then ... If I do it better, longer, or stronger than anyone else, then ... surely, I'll be successful, achieve my ambitions.
This inclination toward the difficult, demanding, and competitive is so much the hallmark of our culture that it has all but become a knee-jerk reaction in our personal lives as well. It is an occupation of the mind and a preoccupation of the personality; it is the antithesis of grace, of ease.
Unfortunately, the same sad predilection toward effort that we apply to work we also apply to love. We use the ghastly expression that we are "working on" our relationships, as if they were cars that needed repairs or gold mines from which with endless effort we might dredge up the sacred paydirt of a wonderful relationship.
When we look at love in this way, we degrade it. Love becomes a project instead of a miracle, and we miss the fruits of its marvelous quirkiness. We can become so involved with "working on" it, "sharing" our feelings, "trying" to communicate better, or "learning" how to negotiate, that love, the mysterious power that brought us together in the first place, is all but stifled in the process.
This isn't to say that a good relationship doesn't prosper from the appropriate forms of focused attention, but rather that if you become fixated on it in this way, you'll squeeze out all the juice and be left with nothing but an empty rind.
The truth is that most of the things we try for in life are just that-trials and trying. But when we slip, by accident, into the effortless space, we stand faceto-face with the miracle–and the lesson–that the things that move us most deeply are almost always a gift.
Love, real love, is a grace, unattainable through effort. It is a gift of the spirit, not a consequence of endeavor. It is not an outcome to be worked toward, but a treasure to be received. So when love magically, spontaneously appears, don't try; just let it in. And when your relationship whimsically, unexpectedly, grandly offers you beautiful moments, don't try to analyze or repeat them, just open your heart and allow them to burst into bloom.
Cast Off Your Pride
Pride is a spurious, dangerous emotion that can stand in the way of deep love. It's what you feel when your truer feelings are too hard to feel–that you have been (or may be) abandoned, that you're not enough, that your looks, achievements, wealth, social status, clothes, children, houses, jobs, professions won't in some way (or in some important context that you're measuring by) measure up.
Pride is what we have, do, feel, preserve instead of all of the above. It gets us through the rough times, allows us, in difficult circumstances, in spite of our feared inadequacies, to carry on. But pride, embedded, taken on as a personality trait, is a dangerous attribute. It stands between you and what is or might be: love, a new friend, the healing of an old wound, a better job, a kiss, a miracle.
When you get too involved with your pride–the way you think you ought to be treated, how important you are, how insulted you feel because "they" overlooked you–you miss what's right in front of your eyes—this beautiful, unrepeatable moment, to say nothing of the chance to step forward exactly as yourself.
Pride in relationship creates distance. If you want to be treated like a proud, kingly lion, you can be, but you'll be all alone in the jungle. Instead of coming to your beloved in vulnerability, revealing yourself, asking for what you need and allowing her beautiful love to flow in, you'll stand like the Wizard of Oz in her presence, all puffed up with your pride, insisting she be your accomplice in shoring up your illusions.
We often use the phrase "pride and joy" to speak of who or what makes us proud, gives us joy. In that sense, pride is a heart-swelling joy. But pride as a private emotional stance is the antithesis of joy. Far from bringing you joy, it will stand in joy's way. Joy thrives on freedom; joy flows. If the place in your heart that is longing for joy is already jammed full of pride, joy, the unwelcome guest, may just slink away.
Excerpted from Heart & Soul by DAPHNE ROSE KINGMA. Copyright © 1995 Daphne Rose Kingma. Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
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