Number 7 in a Series
Being connected in a meaningful way is one of life’s most basic desires. While being in harmony with one’s heart is a meaningful connection to oneself, sharing our hearts verbally or non-verbally creates the meaningful connections of emotional intimacy with others.
When hearts are open, any activity can be emotionally intimate. For example, watching television is typically an isolating experience. But, sharing our hearts whether cuddling and crying together during a painful scene in a movie or jumping and high-fiving at an exciting moment in a sporting event are emotional connections. The same activity with heart is entirely different than when hearts are absent.
When an event or experience touches our heart, it can be the subject of meaningful discussions and the gateway to important personal learning—as well as feeling seen, heard and appreciated. For example, at mealtimes, emotional intimacy is created with discussions about how we are feeling about our lives and our real concerns.
Typical chatter about sports, weather, politics, food, wine, gossip, stories about past events or dispassionate chronologies about the day’s events do not meet the above criteria. Spending time in small talk is not wrong or bad. But, it does not energize and satisfy like meaningful (meaning full), discussions from the heart.
Conversations that are heartfelt connect us to our appreciation for others and ourselves. They may be intellectual discussions that lead to exciting new discoveries, intimate personal sharing, or learning about what blocks us from more emotional connections. Remember those conversations where we lose track of time and feel exhilarated no matter at what hour they end? That is a conversation from the heart.
We become vulnerable when we share heartfelt feelings, and we need to respect that whether in ourselves or others. Emotional intimacy is scary. The fear of being open-hearted and feeling deeply is like standing naked. We may feel things we do not want to feel. Whether we’re feeling ecstasy or pain, we are vulnerable. The fear that our feelings may lead us into difficulties makes controlling them a powerful aspect of our lives. And yes, sexual experiences present wonderful opportunities to create meaningful connections. Sexual intimacy is the focus of the next post.
This was vividly brought home to me one day. I was working in my office with a couple. The wife became visibly upset as she talked about how lonely she felt because her husband never shared his feelings with her.
He had been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam who risked his life every day he flew into battle. When asked why he would not share his feelings he said simply, “It’s too dangerous.” He was willing to fly into gunfire and face death but sharing his feelings was too dangerous.
I’d like to share with you a recent experience that illustrates how a simple experience—a walk—can be filed with emotional intimacy.
It was a warm and cloudless day, perfect for a hike. We rode bikes to the trailhead, locked them to a fence and began our journey. The fall colors were peaking, and we were both transfixed by the palette–the way the reds and browns of the scrub oak mixed with evergreeens.. We stopped on a small wooden footbridge spanning the creek to breathe in the scent of nature’s resplendence. We hugged each other, and expressed our appreciation for being alive in such a glorious setting.
Moving up the trail we held hands and giggled as we traversed the creek, climbing over boulders and sloshing through mud. Discovering new colors, finding hidden life forms, and feeding the squirrels who brazenly took food out of our hands, we both acknowledged feeling the joy of connecting with nature.
Not being on a schedule allowed us the rare experience of wandering. I shared that it was “probably necessary to wander in order to find wonder” and we both laughed.
When we reached the high meadow at the top of the creek, the entire hillside was covered with multicolored leaves. This was our backdrop for lunch. Our noontime show included a family of deer who, although keeping a respectable distance, seemed to be joining us. We shared our gratitude for the food we ate and for what must have gone into growing and making the food.
After more hiking, playing and exploring, we headed back down the trail. We started running. I lost all self-consciousness and abandoned the usual messages that would tell me to be careful. I blended with the environment and felt like the Native Americans who had once summered in these mountains. I stopped to rest on a large rock and waited for my partner.
As we sat on the rock and shared our experience, we discovered that as we ran down the mountain each of us had experienced the loss of fear and the incredible experience of becoming one with the mountain. I became overwhelmed with tears of gratitude and joy. She moved to take my hand and we hugged and cried together.
We continued our hike, clutching hands whenever possible as we ooh-ed and aah-ed with the joy of experiencing nature and each other in such a profound way.
We each had an experience with nature and our own hearts that we shared with each other, creating an experience of emotional intimacy that will last a lifetime.
For Your Journey
- How may instances of emotional intimacy can you find in the above story? (There are at least ten).
- Describe the difference you felt in an experience like shopping or having lunch when a heart-connection was present and when it was not?
First in the Series: Live Joyfully: Get Out of Your Head
BECOMING YOUR OWN HERO illuminates a path available to us all to attain the kind of personal power demonstrated by our most revered and inspirational heroes. Marianne Williamson, #1 New York Times best-selling author said, “I highly recommend this illuminating and touching look into the possibilities of staying connected to our hearts, even when facing difficult situations.”
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