Home for the Heart: A Practical Guide to Intimate and Social Relationships

Overview

Charlotte D. Kasl is a social activist and a psychologist at the fore front of the empowerment movement sweeping the recovery field. She lectures and leads workshops in the United States and abroad and lives near Missoula, MT.

Most of us long for love and intimate relationships. We want to share close friendships and feel connected to spiritual or social action groups, but often we lack the necessary skiffs. A Home for the Heart is a clear affirming book that takes readers by ...

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Overview

Charlotte D. Kasl is a social activist and a psychologist at the fore front of the empowerment movement sweeping the recovery field. She lectures and leads workshops in the United States and abroad and lives near Missoula, MT.

Most of us long for love and intimate relationships. We want to share close friendships and feel connected to spiritual or social action groups, but often we lack the necessary skiffs. A Home for the Heart is a clear affirming book that takes readers by the hand, empathizes with their fears, and helps them learn how to relate to others in ways that are appropriate, honest, and nurturing. Written in a style that is direct, warm, personal, and simple, it helps us value our connections to others and move from fear of differences to fascination and interest in others' ways.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060929190
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 7/1/1998
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.45 (w) x 8.03 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Love--A Home for the Heart

Love is the only satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.
-- Erich Fromm

Love is the energy at the center of all life. It is the reality beneath our fears, the breath within the breath, the seed of all that grows. Loving ourselves, loving others, and loving spirit/God are inseparable, for all life is interconnected and sacred. Love is an energy force like the air you breathe; if you withdraw your love from anyone, you take your breath away.

We become increasingly able to love as we integrate ourselves and become whole. Our wholeness is expressed in a lust for life and a capacity for joy, delight, and adventure. Our wholeness gives birth to compassion, which Ram Dass describes in Compassion in Action as "the tender opening of our hearts to pain and suffering." For most people, the journey toward love requires that we penetrate the armor around our hearts, feel our grief, and open ourselves to all our feelings. In doing so we become more truly alive, deepen our self-acceptance, and become less and less dependent on others to validate our worth. This frees us to stand in the center of our power and to give generously of ourselves from a sense of inner safety, potency, and vitality. The ability to give generously of ourselves without feeling we are giving up something or being controlled is at the heart of intimacy because it reflects our individual strength and development.

We reach for words to describe love, but, ultimately, love is an experience of unity, peace, or ecstasy that goes beyond words. Too often people mistake love for fancy presents, sentimental greetingcards, or lavish praise. But love is not sentimental; love takes discipline, awareness, and a willingness to step into the fire of transformation. It is born of the minute-to-minute choices we make throughout our days as we bring honesty, integrity, and compassion to all we do and say.

People often treat love like a commodity that you can turn on for some people and off for others. But you can't truly love your partner and hate your neighbor, or exploit the people who work for you. Love can't be compartmentalized because it is central to your being. You can't turn on half a lightbulb. You can dim it or make it brighter, but when it's on, the light shines equally in all directions.

Disconnection and separateness, nearly always stemming from fear, are the opposite of love. To be disconnected can be a dull anxious feeling of inner detachment that makes life seem mundane, superficial, and routine. We feel controlled by external events and lack an inner core that allows us to be spontaneous, fluid, and flexible. We see people as bodies, but not as souls--they have form and shape and even beauty, but we don't feel their essence. When we are disconnected from our inner core, we are unable to absorb and be moved by beauty, wonder, and kindness. We hear music, but it doesn't make our heart sing. We see flowers, but they might as wen be plastic. We touch someone, but there is no connection. When we feel separated, it's hard to trust that anyone cares, or could possibly love us if they were to see our hidden, shameful side.

We can bring ourselves back to love--to the home of our heart-by remembering that we are all children of our Creator, sacred because we are alive. If we accept our intrinsic worth, we can give up the futile search for external validation and put our energy into developing our ability to develop our talents and strengths. We can also remember that we have free will. Because we are pure potential, we are not locked into our past, but have the ability to recreate ourselves moment to moment by our thoughts, actions, and willingness to experiment with new behavior and give up old rigid patterns that no longer serve our growth. We also become willing to dive deep below the surface into our buried wounds. We have an amazing ability to heal and transform as we tap the powerful energy source underlying all our feelings and emotions. Instead of labeling our feelings as good or bad we see them as energy that can be redirected for our growth. The inward journey becomes easier as we tap into our heart's capacity for humor, compassion, and mercy. We become able to take ourselves into our heart, embracing all that we are and all that we have been. It becomes a mystical, humorous, fascinating show as we learn to observe ourselves, yet immerse ourselves in life.

From this point of self-acceptance and compassion we develop the willingness to share our feelings in their raw, vulnerable state, not after we've figured them out or gotten them under control. This doesn't mean that we unload our emotions on others, it means that we stop hiding, faking a smile, or presenting ourselves as we wish to be seen. We accept our humanness and allow it to be seen.

One of my favorite phrases from one of the dances of universal peace is "God is love, lover, and Beloved." If we break "Beloved" in two, we have "be loved": Be loved by spirit, be loved by yourself, be loved by others. If we remove the last letter of "Beloved," we have "be love." Don't seek love or lover, simply be love. Be at peace with All That Is, and know you are the Beloved. And when you find a lover, know that the joumey is to dance together in the circle of love, growing, playing, struggling, and accepting with a smile the incredible predicament of being human. When we can do this, even for a few moments, we will feel a flow of energy like the current of a river dissolving our separateness and bringing us to greater unity.

A Home For The Heart. Copyright © by Charlotte Kasl. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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