Spiritual Networks


Allow the surprise – and be ready for it!
What you feel is the value of your life. It’s worth a little work!

Exercises for Gathering Emotional Wisdom regarding
the sixth Cycle, Intimacy

Here is a brief description of each Core Emotion, accompanied by its synonyms.


Gratitude is the receptive closeness of the Knower: pleasure in simply noticing the Intimacy between us at the moment. I am keenly aware that this closeness is not something that I could make happen. It is a gift. You are willing to risk something precious from within yourself. I am letting you in. What comes from deep inside you is flowing to a depth inside me. I get what is being offered, and I am thankful.

Synonyms for Gratitude: thankfulness, appreciation, honored, privileged, pleased, delighted, humbled, gratified.


Compassion is the receptivity that overcomes distance. When I allow myself to feel Compassion, I find a way to limit the distance between us by joining you in holding your pain. My comfort with my own suffering allows me to do this. As I hold your distress I feel my own in whatever way it resonates with yours. I allow Compassion to join us in the pain, even while I remain clear that it is only my own pain that I can feel. So it is that Compassion bridges the gulf that suffering opens. I become a soothing presence for you in the way that I have learned to let myself be soothed.

Synonyms for Compassion: sympathy, empathy, kindness, tenderness, commiseration, support, resonance, attunement, love, care, concern, gentleness, kindheartedness, loving-kindness, sensitivity.


Courage is the expressive overcoming of distance. Courage takes the risky initiative to reach out with vulnerable information that invites the return of Closeness. The risk lies in my uncertainty as to how you will respond. Courage is not an attempt at control. My Courage simply provides an opportunity for you to find your own. When I act with Courage I make an act of faith in my resilience as well as in yours. I believe Courage takes us deeper into knowing and loving the truth in ourselves – and in each other. It invites what was hidden in shame out into the healing light. Are you with me?

Synonyms for Courage: honesty, forthrightness, directness, fortitude, inner strength, sincerity, integrity, authenticity, openness, resilience, guts, grit.


Affection is the expressive closeness of the Knower. I want you to know how special you are to me. Affection means I prize you as you are, in and of yourself, for yourself. True Affection does not come with a hook. It is not a way to seduce you into giving something to me. The more clear my intention in offering Affection, the more easily it can be received. This tenderness I offer is a simple gift, no strings attached. I just want you to know that you are precious to me. I’d like the warmth I feel for you to nurture you. That is all I have in mind.

Synonyms for Affection: loving, kind, benevolent, gracious, considerate, tender, fond, devoted, adoring, attracted, warm, caring, sympathetic, generous, faithful, committed; prize, value, appreciate, cherish, treasure, adore, revere, love.


    This exercise invites you to explore your relative comfort with the Core Emotions in the Cycle of Intimacy.

    1. Choose one Core Emotion at a time, peruse the definitions and synonyms provided above, and choose a specific word from the list, one that draws your curiosity at the moment. Reflect on specific experiences of this feeling, and, using the following chart, identify the degree of your Emotional Availability. Repeat for as many feelings and variations as draw your curiosity.




      about past experience

      Feel now
      within my body

      to another while
      feeling it now

      (don’t acknowledge:
      Invalidate the feeling)





      (feel it, validate the feeling, though challenging to do so)






      (feel it with natural, flowing ease)








    2. Gather your Emotional Wisdom: summarize what you learn about yourself with regard to each particular Core Emotion.
    3. How satisfied are you with the degree of your Emotional Availability? If you’d like to increase your emotional comfort zone, proceed to the next exercise.

    This exercise gives you a way to explore the history of your experience with any given emotion. The more you appreciate the roots of a feeling, the more you can make yourself at home with it, the more it can become a source of wisdom for ever better choices.

      I use a meditation exercise to get my awareness centered (5 minutes).  How am I feeling now, as I begin?
    2. FOCUS
      I browse through the list of feelings, carefully sensing which feeling word holds energy for me. Which stirs my curiosity, draws me into further exploration?
        I search my memory for my recollection of my most recent experience of the emotion which I wish to explore.  I let my memory and imagination recreate the event which generated the emotion.  Factual recall is not necessary. I let myself imagine the event vividly, as if it were happening now.  I allow myself to notice all the elements of my experience (Reason, Imagine, Feel, Sense).  When the Experience is complete, I identify its important elements on a blank page, perhaps even writing a comprehensive narrative of the event.
        I let my awareness regress through time to explore other past events which generated this emotion.  I stop at two or three which stand out with some clarity.  I allow myself, as in part a), above, to vividly process each event.  Upon completion of each recollection, I note its elements in the same manner as used in part a).
        I let go of all of the above awareness and imagine I am traveling further back in time.  I let images of experience roll by until I am at my earliest recollection of the emotion of interest.  I allow myself to vividly process the event where this emotion was first generated (as far as I know at this time).  I attend to each element of the experience as though to a sacred revelation.  Finally, I note significant elements of this experience as above.
      Now I review the fruits of my reflection.  I allow myself to really 'get a feel' for this emotion.  I imagine myself in a future event, experiencing the emotion.  What is the storyline?  What might be a core image or metaphor?  How might I artistically represent this image?  What physical positioning or movement seems to belong with this image?  Finally, I put my body into the imagined position, allowing the energy to move and sound to be made until I am more fully appreciating the embodied wonder of this emotion.
      What have I learned about myself with regard to this feeling?  What patterns do I notice?  How have some patterns changed across time?  To what extent do I allow my inner awareness and/or outer expression of this feeling?  What ways do I have in my body or mind of avoiding it? What new choices am I making now about relational challenges in my life?  What few words hold the core of my learning?  How might I use this mantra/belief/affirmation to deepen my access to this emotion?

      **NOTE: If I am unable to find sufficient memories (clarity or number), I can simply allow my imagination to create events as if they once happened or are now happening.  This will still inform me as to where I am with the emotion.  I can also consider vicarious experience, where I witnessed someone else's experience in a way that affected me.

  3. CORE EMOTIONS: further reflection

    1. GRATITUDE: I welcome what comes from deep inside you.

      • If I track my feelings for a week, how often and for how long do I find myself feeling Gratitude? How often and for how long do I allow myself to contemplatively appreciate what is simply given to me from the inner world of another?
      • What are the beliefs (self-talk) that get in the way of my feeling Gratitude? How do I talk myself out of staying tuned in to whatever is drawing me close? Do I automatically tell myself it’s not safe? What negative judgments do I have about what it costs me to be so soft as to open myself to the possibility of getting hurt?
      • When I am having a moment of Gratitude, if I pay attention to my body, where do I notice tension that is not getting released? If I listen to this tension, what does it tell me about changes that I need to make?
      • How intentional am I about noticing and tracking my experiences of Gratitude? How might I gather or honor them in way that allows them to continue to nurture me?
    2. COMPASSION: I am joining you in holding your suffering.

      • How willing am I to listen to the pull of Compassion when I am feeling it? To allow it to take me close to another, and to my own pain? Might I try just sitting, breathing with, and allowing myself to be held in Compassion in my pain? Might this help me offer it to others? What belief needs to change if I am to be comfortable with Compassion?
      • How quick am I to get overly self-protective, clinging to old ways of avoiding the experience of pain? How much do I distrust my own resilience? What ways do I have of escaping the pain I do not want to feel, and do not trust will heal?
      • How convinced am I that pain is just an unwanted vulnerability, something that diminishes my power to keep everything under control? How much do I consider suffering to be shameful, even humiliating, proving and exposing in some way that there is something wrong with me?
      • How automatically do I refuse to acknowledge pain in another? What judgments do I hold against them that provide me with a well excused distance from their pain – and my own?
      • If I pay attention to myself when I am experiencing Compassion, how much do I notice myself tensing up against it, not wanting to allow myself to feel it? What might such avoidance be costing me? What moments of potential growth have I shut down because I was avoiding Compassion?
      • What experiences have I had of a compassionate other, someone willing and able to be with me when I felt alone with pain, in a way that helped it to pass? Who do I have in my life at this time to whom I can turn to talk through my unresolved need to receive and offer Compassion? If no one comes to mind, might I need to seek out such a resource so that I can discover how to learn and grow by experiencing Compassion?
    3. COURAGE: I am risking this disclosure as a way to invite you closer.

      • If I pay attention to my experiences for a week, how often am I in situations where my Closeness with another feels threatened? How willing am I to notice and speak up when the Distance between us is not what I want? How much do I allow Distance to continue rather than engage my own Courage?
      • If I look back over moments when Closeness seemed threatened, even imagine that I am in the experience again at this moment, what energy do I notice moving in my body? What impulses am I aware of? If I didn’t restrain the emotional energy, what do I imagine myself doing? If I think responsibly about this event, and my feelings, what might I choose to do if it happens again?
      • What experiences have I had that have led me to distrust my own Courage? How convinced am I that my Courage is selfish or harmful to others? How afraid am I of this energy in myself? In others? How helpless do I become in the face of another’s Courage? How much do I twist my Courage into making sure I get my way, that I have everything under control so as to avoid experiencing pain?
    4. FULFILLMENT: I want you to know how special you are to me.

      • How do I cultivate experiences where I have opportunity to express Affection? How important is this kind of pleasure to me?
      • If I pay attention to my experiences for a week or two, how frequent and how long lasting are the times when I am feeling Affection, and allowing it to be expressed in my actions?
      • How comfortable am I with spontaneous Affection? If I pay attention when the opportunity arises, how much do I allow myself to go with it? How much do I find a way to dampen the energy, to mute it, or bring it to an end?
      • How willing am I to join in with others when they have initiated the Affection? What self-talk goes on inside me that tells me to distrust it, that finds a way to negatively judge it, to find something wrong with it?
      • How much am I afraid of initiating Affection? How much do I expect that in some way hurt will come from it? What other beliefs do I have that hold me back?

    Now that you have given yourself some familiarity with the Core Emotions of Intimacy, you are in a better position to give daily attention to these feelings. In our complex and fast paced lives, so much happens so fast that some of the feelings go unattended. The way to grow in Intimacy is to make a commitment to regularly noticing, experiencing, and processing these feelings.

      Use a meditation exercise to get your awareness centered. Bodyscan, Following the Breath, or Mindfulness can be useful here. The point is to become conscious of your embodied presence in the moment.
      Then spend time breathing while remembering the events of the day. Allow your awareness to sift slowly through your experiences as seen through the lens of the choices you made. Recall as many of the details as help each event to become real once again. Watch for any forms of these feelings: Gratitude, Compassion, Courage, Affection. Pause to acknowledge and honor your feelings, one at a time.

      Let yourself be present to each feeling as if the event were happening now. This means breathing with awareness of the energy of the feeling in your body, as well as thinking through the value that is highlighted by this feeling. If there is a particular feeling that is challenging for you to allow yourself to fully experience, review and use the Breathing a Feeling method from exercises in the Introductory chapter.
      As you acknowledge the meaning of each feeling, listen with care to what this feeling has to tell you about yourself, your relationships, your intentions, your choices. Gather your learning, if you wish, in a journal.
      Many days you may notice an incompleteness to some experiences.

      • What has come into your awareness that requires further attention? What intention can you identify? What will you do to realize this intention? Perhaps the following exercise, Processing a Feeling, would help you to fill this out.
      • Perhaps your feelings tell you that something in one of your relationships requires further attention. Following the next exercise is another called Relational Review. It will help you process specific interpersonal experiences, and clarify where you go from here.

    A step by step method for clarifying the meaning of a feeling so as to make a well informed choice what to do with its energy.

    Awareness + Choice = Personal Power

    EXPERIENCE ------------- UNDERSTAND -------------------- CHOOSE
    What’s happening?          What does it mean to me?          What do I do?

    Choose any feeling from the synonyms provided earlier, and reflect upon a specific experience of this feeling.

    1. Body: What am I aware of inside my body? How is the energy moving?
    2. Impulse: What do I feel like doing? If no thought held me back, what do I imagine myself doing?
    3. Meaning: What does my feeling tell me about what’s at stake for me? How is my relationship to what I care about affected?
    4. Options: What are the ways I might choose to express this feeling? What words and/or actions would identify the meaning of this feeling for me?
    5. Intention: What do I want to have happen as a result of my choice of expression of this feeling?
    6. Choice: I decide how to express (or keep private) the feeling.
    7. Learning: What happens as a result of my choice? How is my relationship to whatever I care about affected? What do I learn? What would I do differently next time?

    This exercise helps you explore specific relationships in terms of the interactive experience of the Intimacy therein. There is much of value to be learned by following these steps with regard to significant relationships during formative years (mother, father, teachers, religious leaders), as well as with regard to important friendships, past and present.

    Choose one specific relationship and reflect on your experience of it using the following questions. Repeat with regard to any relationship that has been important to you.

    1. Commune:
      In what way was the ability to connect with each other’s inner world invigorating at specific times during the course of the relationship? How much did you allow yourself to notice and value the communion?
    2. Balance of Closeness and Distance:
      Identify specific events where your experience of the relationship supported the Closeness in your interaction with a significant other. Do the same with regard to Distance.

      • What do you learn about the impact of your experiences of Closeness and Distance upon your ability to sustain Intimacy with the other? What supported or prevented the ongoing communion with each other in the relationship?
      • What patterns do you notice in the relationship over time? Did Closeness or Distance predominate at certain times, or even throughout most of the relationship?
      • What relational experiences, in your personal history, have led to the patterns you are noticing in this relationship?
      • What do you learn about yourself in terms of how attentive you are to Closeness, and what you might do to cultivate more of it?
      • What do you learn about yourself in terms of how attentive and responsive you are to Distance? How might you more productively engage with it so that it becomes even more helpful in communing with this person and significant others?
    3. Balance of Hold and Reveal:
      Identify specific events where your experience of the relationship allowed you to Hold whatever was being offered to you from the inner world of the other. Do the same with regard to ways that you were able to Reveal your inner world in a way that supported the communion between you.

      • How did you allow the other to be Known, and what from their inner world were you able to Hold? How did this receptivity support the Communion between you? How much did what you received from the other become a part of who you are?
      • When and how were you able to Reveal something valuable to the tenderly shared vulnerability? How did this nurture your shared experience of Intimacy?
      • How did your clarity about Holding and Revealing help to keep the boundary clear as to what was you and what was the other? How is a clear boundary important to supporting your participation in intimate communion?
      • What do you learn about how comfortable you are in allowing yourself to slow down enough to let in from the other whatever might bring you closer? How does trying to get too close too fast interfere with your growth into Intimacy?
      • What do you learn about how comfortable you are in allowing your energy to quicken in order to take the risk of revealing your contribution to the Intimacy? How does slowing yourself down and holding yourself back too much block your initiative to risk being known?
    4. Unfinished Business:
      Now take time to reflect on what there is in this relationship that requires further attention.

      • What is the overall impact of the relationship upon your Intimacy, your ability to continue being open to your experiences in a way that supports your growth into communion with others?
      • What patterns do you notice that you would like to change? Are these changes specific to this relationship, or related to how you are in many relationships? How will you go about making the changes?
      • Would it help to talk this through within this specific relationship? Is there someone else with whom you might consult?
      • What else occurs to you that, if you followed through on it, would deepen your ability to be Intimate with this other?

    A way to stay current with what is happening for me in any significant relationship, to learn about myself, and to take what I’ve learned back into the relationship.

    I use a meditation exercise to get my awareness centered. Then I spend time remembering what happened in recent memory. I choose one specific experience that involves my Intimacy in relationship with another person, an experience where further reflection might help me to learn about myself.


      I write a description of the relational event I have chosen, identifying what actually happened, in terms of what I observed outside myself (Sensing), as well as what happened inside me (Thinking and Feeling). I write this as a story, including all the information that has value in understanding what happened.
    2. REFLECT

      • How am I feeling right now, as I begin to write this review? How do I understand this feeling?
      • How does the interpersonal event described above represent a pattern in my way of relating? (Situation … Organism … Response … Consequences).
      • What are the roots of this pattern? Where does it come from in my history?
      • What else have I learned about myself?
      • How do I understand myself in relationship to the significant other in the current interpersonal event?
      • What impressions have I formed about the other? What have I come to notice in terms of their personality, personal characteristics, behavior patterns?
      • How am I feeling toward this other as a result of this event?
    3. DECIDE

      • How do I take what I've learned here back into the relationship? What is my intention? What will I actually do?
      • How am I feeling now as I end this review? How do I understand this feeling?

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