Norma Jean: Opening the Heart in Hell

The need to feel whole and satisfied is what motivates people to move through this topsy-turvy maze of existence, constantly chasing this or that, endlessly yearning for satisfaction and that moment of relaxation when the heckling grip of desire loosens and we sigh, "Ahhh." In a relationship, the heart's desire is to merge with the beloved, to become whole, to be loved unconditionally and relax the guard. When this deep need for completion goes unsatisfied for long, many seek relief in intoxicants, sex, career or food.A brilliant talk this weekend with Steven and Ondrea Levine, authors of Embracing the Beloved: Relationship as a Path to Awakening, inspires these sentences.I'm fully committed to using the intimacy in my love life to awaken to a finer vibration of self study way beyond the hunting and tasting rituals of being single and ISO (in search of) and a few paces ahead of the cooing honeymoon phase of love. My intention is to transform the ups and downs and in-betweens, the paralyzing fears, petty jealousies, the grasping and vulnerability into a journey toward spiritual realization and healing. Easier said than done.According to Levine, "In the beginning of a relationship when desire systems are well-coordinated and the energies reside mostly on the physical and emotional levels, each person wakes up together, and together they 'want a blue one.' But one morning, as nature would have it, each wakes up with a different desire in mind. One wants a red; the other wants a green. Conflict."It's precisely from this juncture that heavenly places turn hellish. It's at this juncture where we're presented the opportunity to study intention and actions and play a bit more lightly with the tricky energy called desire described by Levine as "a merciless bending out of the mind and leaning out of this moment, a longing for satisfaction that exists in some unknown future."Ondrea's words: "To be in a conscious committed relationship is to be at the center of the laboratory of our fear and greed, distrust and doubt, our longing and joy. ... We can say we're afraid of commitment, or trusting, or vulnerability, or monogamy, but the problem is not commitment or monogamy -- the problem is fear. ... Fear is a growth inhibitor. It keeps us stuck at our edge, unable to take a single step beyond safe territory into The Great Unknown of our deepest nature."What a drag for us as fear operates the musculature of our grasping, taking us out of our hearts and "on a drug run," as Levin brilliantly puts it. All manner of temptation gnaws at relationships all the time as the magma of everyday grief rises in the heart, as intimacy becomes palatable.People teeter, frozen at the edges of intimacy, feeling they need just six more months of play, or whatever, before committing. Women wait for fairy-tale marriages they feel will bestow them their big millisecond of satisfaction. True love takes becoming mercifully human together, step by step, moment to moment."Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along." -- Rumi

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