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Excerpted from The Conscious Heart by Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D. and Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. Copyright 1997 by Kathlyn Hendricks, Ph.D. and Gay Hendricks, Ph.D. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"The important thing to remember is that all of us have needs both for closeness and for alone-time."

Kathlyn Hendricks and Gay Hendricks, 
The Conscious Heart, Part 4

Gay spent much of his childhood around adults who carried on their grownup routines. He learned to create a rich inner life while on car trips with his mother and aunts. Kathlyn, on the other hand, was the middle child between two boys, who did pretty typical boy activities like building forts and racing around the neighborhood on bicycles. Kathlyn particularly adored her older brother and adopted a "me too" style in order to be included.

Probably our essential natures led us toward these adaptations. Certainly Gay requires a certain amount of alone-time to feel in touch with himself that Kathlyn doesn't require. But we have found, as have our clients and workshop participants, that the dance of unity-autonomy is the baseline in all relationships. It is such a strong pulsation in the relationship that everything else is built on the subtle exchanges and tides of moving closer and getting separate.

Once we had clarified the source of our particular rhythms, we could give more attention to our day-to-day dance of closeness and separateness. We realized that we had been expecting this dance to be symmetrical, like a minuet. We had imagined that if we really cared for each other, we would want to be close and then alone in a completely harmonious rhythm. We were startled, to say the least, to discover that the dance is almost always asymmetrical. We almost never operated at exactly the same pace. For example, one of us would swirl in for some closeness just as the other was withdrawing into a book.

Subtle changes in breathing and expression that we unconsciously read in each other give us clues about each other's needs. Sometimes we read them accurately and sometimes not, based on our ability to see essence clearly. We've found it's a lot more effective for each of us to tell the truth about the sensations and thoughts that signal our own preferences as they occur. A simple communication like "I notice I'm feeling some pressure in my forehead, and I'd like to take some time to sit out in the garden alone" can save days of mind-reading, sabotaging, and distancing.

The important thing to remember is that all of us have needs both for closeness and for alone-time. If you come from a background where you developed an ease for being by yourself, your learning edge may be to cultivate that same ease for being with people. If you are by nature comfortable with closeness, your learning edge may be to get comfortable with yourself as your only company.

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