Practicing Intimacy.

December 16, 2023

Practicing Intimacy.

May 29, 2023

Perhaps our human fate is to be worn open repeatedly.

Perhaps this is the dynamic of spiritual growth: we close enough to heal and are worn open to grow. 

Perhaps our human flaw is that we close more than is necessary to heal, cutting ourselves off from the world. 

And so, we need the Universal depth of all-there-is to wear us open, breaking our grip on what we cling to. It seems we are enlisted in an endless cycle that moves through resistance to submission, through isolation to transparence, and through ignorance to wisdom. 

Perhaps this is what the medieval mystic Meister Eckhart meant when he said, “God must be brought to birth in the soul again and again.”

So much depends on our willingness to enter life more deeply through the places where we thaw and soften. So much depends on our willingness to keep our eyes open on the other side of loss. The truth is that feeling is another form of seeing, a moment of experiential evidence. And staying open, once broken open, we are ripe to be fashioned like the bed of a river widened in time by the force of the river. 

This kind of openness is legendary. In Tibetan mythology, a spiritual warrior must have a break in their heart so the Mysteries can get in. 

It is the break that makes an inlet of the heart between all that has happened and all that is yet to be. 

It is the break in our heart that lets the inner world merge with the outer world. 

It is the break that keeps us touchable and reachable. 

t is the break in our heart that is our pinhole to the vastness. 

There is so much more. Not more in the sense of finding what is missing, but more in the sense that when in the river—which is at once behind us, around us, and ahead of us—there is always more of life’s water to enter. 

And so, I invite you to practice intimacy. You may think, does he mean “practice making love?” Yes, but not with your body. I invite you to practice making love with the way you listen. 

How? 

Locate the center of your listening, which will be in the softest part of your heart. Go there and open the center of your listening like a window, so that whatever you listen to can enter you and touch you. For to practice intimacy is to practice letting things touch you. It begins with opening and receiving. What flows from being this open is showering what you listen to with care, attention, and acceptance. 

These efforts—to open and receive, to care, attend, and accept—renew our kinship with other life, which is always there. To be intimate with life is to love everything out of hiding. 

-Mark

Mark Nepo is an MEA faculty member, poet and spiritual adviser who has taught in the fields of poetry and spirituality for over 30 years. He’s well-known for his New York Times #1 bestseller, "The Book of Awakening," which Oprah chose as one of her "Ultimate Favorite Things" for her farewell season. He is leading an MEA Baja workshop Feb 5-10 on “Falling Down and Getting Up: Discovering Your Resilience and Strength.”

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