Trials of the Heart: Healing the Wounds of Intimacy
Just as Joseph Campbell, Robert Bly and Clarissa Pinkola Estes used myths to aid the evolution of consciousness in the individual, so does Trials of the Heart: Healing the Wounds of Intimacy, by psychotherapist and couples counselor, Dr. Michael Mayer, explore how ancient myths, fairy tales and stories can help us in our quest for a better understanding of human relationships. It sheds a ray of light into the dark and twisting labyrinth that intimate relationships so often become. Trials of the Heart is an ideal guide for providing an entry way into practices and attitudes that will alter the way we handle the difficult moments and obstacles we face on the path of love.
“By not including ancient sacred wisdom traditions into our understanding of love, we commit a crime analogous to our cultures’ trampling over the Native Americans. We get to occupy the land, but we lose the knowledge of how to be with its sacred treasures.” – Quote from Trials of the Heart
Trials of the Heart shows us how relationship is a rite of initiation through the elements of fire earth air and water; and gives us tools for making our journey into a mythic Journey. It has been called the hero of a thousand faces (a la Joseph Campbell) for couples.
Trials of the Heart:
1. Explores how ancient sacred wisdom traditions can be integrated with modern psychotherapeutic understanding to help to heal the wounds of love.
2. Shows how ancient myths and stories aid the soul’s quest to unravel the mysteries of love. For example, we learn about the nature and purpose of love by examining the tales of Eros, Aphrodite, and Psyche. We gain insights about how to deal with our fears of facing our partner’s dark emotions from the myth of Perseus. We learn what’s behind our fear of merging with another and how to handle it from the Sufi tale of The Stream and the Sands. The Jewish folktale of The Rabbi and the Farm gives us insights into how to find acceptance of the everyday patterns about our partners that irritate us. The Polynesian tale of Maui and the Great Lady of Night lead us to a deep metaphysical insight into how the problems we encounter in relationship are getting us ready to meet death.
3. Argues that the purpose of love’s suffering is psychological evolution. Relationship is “a rite of initiation,” and difficult moments of relationship set us off on a grail quest to become initiates into the Temple of the Elements (fire, earth, air, and water). Our souls evolve thereby.
4. Demonstrates how oftentimes behind our desires and our problems in relationship is the worship of archetypal deities. “We make our destinies by our choice of Gods,” and our unconscious worship of them oftentimes makes us like religious zealots, biasing our view and creating unnecessary dissonance with worshippers of other temples.
5. Provides an entry way into practices that will alter the way we handle the difficult moments of intimate encounter. For example, the Chinese art of Tai Chi provides a metaphor for handling our defensive reactions, the four elements of astrological symbolism provide the necessary ingredients for constructively expressing negative feelings, the American Plains Indian’s medicine wheel becomes a tool for transcending blaming and scapegoating, and the myth of Ariadne’s Thread gives a model for going down into our emotional underworld and dealing with the Minotaurs that arise in the dark labyrinth of relationship. After reading Trials of the Heart, and practicing “the Mythic Journey Process” explained in the last chapter, the obstacles and demons that are met on the path of love will never be viewed in the same way. They will be seen for what they are, an opportunity to develop our inner characters and stories, and to embark on a mythic journey of our own making.
Quotes on Love from some other Authors:
The minute I heard my first love story,
I started looking for you,
not knowing how blind that was.
Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere
They’re in each other all along.
For one human being to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult task of all…, the work for which all other work is but preparation. It is a high inducement to the individual to ripen… a great exacting claim upon us, something that chooses us out and calls us to vast things.
Rainer Maria Rilke
There is no possibility of individuation on Mount Everest where nobody will ever bother you. Individuation always means relationship.
For information on a four step process for clearing negative feelings with another, click here
2 reviews for Trials of the Heart: Healing the Wounds of Intimacy
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Stanley Krippner, author of Dreamworking, Personal Mythology and Healing Stories –
“Much has been written about love, intimacy, and heartbreak, but Michael Mayer has given us a book that is unique. Its wisdom is practical yet profound, poignant but positive. The power in Trials of the Heart resides in its use of myth, symbols and paradox to illuminate its subject and assist its readers to make choices that will help them penetrate life’s mysteries.”
Jane Goldberg, Ph.D., author of The Dark Side of Love –
“…a masterful integration of mythology and contemporary psychology about the universal themes of love and life, pain, hurt, rage, and death. Trials of the Heart follows in the tradition of Joseph Campbell-a Hero with a Thousand Faces for couples.”