THE THREE WAYS OF ôLOVEö
ôI love you, son.ö
ôLook at that young couple, they are so in love.ö
ôMy God, how badly I want to make love with you.ö
In our culture, we have a tendency to use the word ôloveö for three very different feelings. We can begin to understand some of the complexities of our intimate life when we untangle these three different threads of our loving. The practice of Intimate Communion depends on a clear understanding of these three separate elements in an intimate relationship: love, romance and polarity. Love
Of the threelove, romance and polaritylove is the simplest to understand and the most difficult to practice. Love is simply what is when your heart is open.
You could love your husband, your dog, your mother, your car, a book, your child, a painting or the seashoreor all of them at once. Love is simply the opening of your heart. When your heart is open, you love whomever, or whatever, is in your life. Love is the union of you and the one you are with.
Love is what is when your heart is open. To do love is to open your heart. If you are waiting to feel love, as if love will come to you, you may be waiting for a long time. Love happens whenever your heart opens, whether 10 years from now or right now, in this very moment.
Love has nothing to do, necessarily, with sex. You can love someone and not have sexual desire for them. You can want to have sex with someone you donÆt even know, or someone you are not loving. You exist as love when your heart is unguarded and opened, and you close yourself off to love when you guard your heart.
You can actually learn to love. You can learn how to open your heart, even when circumstances are difficult. Even when your relationship is painful, even when you feel hurt, you can practice opening your heart. You can practice love. This is the foundation of Intimate Communion: to practice opening your heart in every moment, including when you feel hurt. Rather than turn away or close down, you can practice loving. This practice of love extends far beyond conventional therapy.
There are many good books about how our intimate relationships often replicate our relationships with our parents. There are many good therapists who know how to work with childhood issues that come up in our intimacies. And when we work with a therapist, we often begin by examining our past, our parents, our childhood.
Our childhood stuff seems endless, once we begin to dig. A little digging is good, in order that we understand the roots of our search for love and its resulting frustration. But after a little digging, it is time to release the past and practice intimacy right now, in the present. Rather than concerning ourselves with the past cause of our present unhappiness, we can instead practice opening our hearts, right now. And through this moment to moment practice of open-hearted intimacy, this practice of being love, the power of the past weakens.
When you fall and wound your knee, it hurts. ItÆs good to take a few moments, inspect the wound, clean it and put a bandage on it. Without doing much else, it will heal. Unless, of course, you keep falling on your knee and re-wounding it.
In the same way, your childhood wounds will heal on their own, as long as you donÆt repeat the old pattern of wounding yourself over and over again. It is much better to practice true intimacy now than it is to continually focus on the past, just as it is much better to learn how to walk without falling rather than it is to focus on your wounded knee.
Eventually, through this practice of loving, our old childhood patterns of turning away or closing down when we feel hurt, or punishing our partner for hurting us, dissolve. We may still feel hurt when our partner acts unlovingly, but our hurt does not become closure. Our pain does not create distance in our relationship. Likewise, when we act unlovingly toward our partner, he or she can practice love, rather than striking back, closing down or becoming distant. Romance
Imagine that you are at a party and you meet a person of the opposite sex. The two of you begin a conversation and the rapport is instant. The talk seems effortless. You really enjoy being with this person and you feel really comfortable. In fact, the familiarity is startling. You look at this person and say, ôItÆs hard to believe that we just met a few minutes ago. I feel like IÆve known you for a long time. Maybe we knew each other in a past life or something!ö
Have you finally met ôthe one,ö the mate you have always been hoping to find? You leave the party thinking about this person. You feel happy, maybe even a bit giddy inside. The two of you begin seeing each other, spending more and more time together. You feel the specialness of the relationship. There is a sense of uniqueness and destiny; you feel that it was meant to be.
This is romantic attraction, infatuation, ôfalling in love.ö
Romantic attraction begins with a strong feeling of oneness and of bonding, a feeling that you have ôalways known each other.ö You have probably felt this way about some person at some point in your life. If you have, you know that the feeling doesnÆt last. After several months, or, if you are lucky, several years, the feeling of romantic attraction wears off.
And when it does, it always seems to turn into something very specific. This person who was once so magical to you, this one who seemed to be the one who was going to give you everything you ever wanted, who was going to bring unending love into your life once and for all, seems to turn into precisely the person who does not give you what you want.
Eventually, relationships based on romantic attraction always result in not getting the love you want. Why? Because romantic attraction is based on an imprint in our psyche that formed during our childhood. As many of us have already discovered through therapy or personal reflection, those people to whom we are romantically attracted are exactly those people who embody the qualities, good and bad, of our parents. Whatever our parents didnÆt give us enough of (love, attention, praise, freedom, etc.), is exactly the thing we will not get from our romantically chosen partner.
It seems like we ôalways knewö our romantic partner because we did know him or her: in the familiar texture of our parents, imprinted in our childhood psyche! Our new partner seems so special because we unconsciously hope to continue the relationship we had with our parents and finally get the love we always wanted, the acceptance we always desired, the fulfillment of our heart that we always craved. And, because we have unconsciously chosen our parents in our partner, we have chosen someone who will not give us what we always wanted, in exactly the same way that our parents didnÆt. (Even if our romantic partner does give us what we want, we often cannot receive it, because our childhood imprint doesnÆt believe it is real.)
As the thrill of being ôin loveö wears off, your romantically-chosen partner seems to be perfectly suited to cause you pain. He or she seems to have an uncanny ability to poke at your weak spots and hurt you, though not necessarily on purpose; the person who used to bring out the best in you now seems to bring out the worst, just by being himself or herself. And you do the same for your partner. Because romantic attraction is based on qualities in your partner that you unconsciously recognize from your childhood experiences, you will be as fulfilled and as unfulfilled by your partnerÆs love as you were by your parentsÆ. Sexual Polarity
The subtle power of sexual polarity pervades all our lives. It draws us toward our lover. It makes us uncomfortable with our spouseÆs best friend. It keeps a marriage full of life, and when it is gone, it takes the life with it. What is sexual polarity?
You are standing in the supermarket choosing tomatoes. You look up, straight into a very attractive strangerÆs eyes, a stranger of the opposite sex. A jolt of electricity runs through you. Your eyes remain engaged a little longer, and then you look down at the tomatoes. Your body is flush with energy and aliveness.
Sexual polaritythe magnetic pull or repulsion between the Masculine and Feminineaffects all our lives. A few moments of sexual polarity can cause the memory of your trip to the supermarket to linger in your mind for hours or even days. Total strangers can raise your body temperature, cause your face to blush and make your heart pound. On the other hand, when sexual polarity is weak in our intimate relationships, we begin to feel that something is missing, and we often blame our partners or ourselves.
Sexual polarity either is or isnÆt happeningor so it seems at first. Before we understand that sexual polarity can be consciously turned on or off, we call it ôchemistry.ö It seems that either your intimate relationship has it or it doesnÆt. In todayÆs modern ideal of a relationship based on friendship, we sometimes act as if sexual polarity is not as important as, say, good communication. So, over time, our intimate relationships tend to become more talk and less action.
However, whether we like to admit it or not, talk is not enough for many of us. We also want to share the energetic juice of sexual polarity with our intimate partner.
So, in the practice of Intimate Communion, we learn to consciously practice the art of cultivating and sharing sexual polarity. We face the fact that for most of us, the force of polarity is at the core of our sexual attraction in intimacy. This mysterious force affects all our lives, yet remains mostly at an unconscious level.
We begin to master sexual polarity by becoming sensitive to its flow in everyday life. Imagine you are in a room talking with your good friends who are the same sex as you. The conversation is flow...