Art of Attention: From Acceptance to Intimacy

In this post, I propose cultivating a state of radical forgiveness to experience true intimacy. The following is really a tried and true recipe for my own nourishment; I hope it’s useful.

1. Practice full, unbridled acceptance, particularly in the company of people toward whom you feel an aversion. The practice of seeing and respecting that person in that moment heals both of you; over time you will be able to perceive this as an opening and/or a sensation of gratitude in your own heart. By the way, the most unsavory or unreasonable people call for the most acceptance. Nurture this acceptance especially with children of any age in your life; when you honor a child by listening and receiving them fully, you confer dignity on yourself and the child; healing your own past and contributing to the future. This is big.

2. Watch your internal dialogue in the midst of practicing this acceptance. Removing your reaction to others is the principal means of removing the contractions that prevent the robust flow of energy in the system. To be involved in the day-to-day world and yet fully receptive to what is good and true, all negative inner dialogue must simply cease. Such inner talk steals our health and harms our hearts. Blame of any sort drains our power and ages us internally and externally. To transform negativity, we must watch the results of this negativity objectively until we simply cannot entertain such a process any longer.

3. Align yourself with the past, accept it, turn your eyes resolutely to the present and begin again. This is especially potent with family and the patterns we all unconsciously inherit. Such radical forgiveness is based on complete acceptance of the past, with no accounts kept of our errors or anyone else’s. Holding mistakes in our mind’s eye and dwelling on them actually strengthens their potential recurrence by perpetuating the resonance of their effects. Clinging to the past betrays the vast creative intelligence of the present. Each breath you take in these moments can be a reinforcement of your presence in this moment: inhale and lengthen from your waist all the way up under your arms; maintain that length and space as you exhale and soften your skin. Do this a few times now, and anytime you’re under duress, to introduce your body to a more spacious, intimate connection with yourself.

4. Familiarize yourself with this aim, the concept of intimacy: true intimacy is a symptom of courageous self-trust in the present moment. Such supportive intimacy with the nurturing force of our own reality is the most important relationship we can uphold. Particularly in the solitary moments, tend to the relationship you have with yourself by taking care of your heart and your body, by listening to what is resonant for you, even as you offer your attention to others. This intimacy becomes your most valuable offering in the world. The more comfortable you become in this intimacy with yourself, the more readily you will find meaningful, healing intimacy with another. In my experience, the more I care for myself, the more likely everyone close to me is to care, both for me and for themselves.

5. Love. True love is the recognition that we all share the same condition, in shades and degrees; to remember this is to heal your heart and the hearts of those closest to you.

May we all be comforted by the universality of this truth, and offer our acceptance, forgiveness, and intimate healing within the world of our own hearts, and to the heart of the universe.

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