Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships
Quest Books, 2013
Winner of the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Silver Award in the relationship category
We are drawn by the irresistible pull of love and connection, yet we also long for inner peace and stillness. These apparent opposites seem irreconcilable—until we realize that our longing for intimate bonds and spiritual liberation emanates from the same sacred impulse. Pursuing a spiritual path while embracing our humanity moves us beyond our stuck places toward rich relationships and intimacy with all things.
In this innovative, practical book, John Amodeo shows how emotionally nourishing relationships and spiritual development are two sides of the same coin of awakening. He suggests that the Buddha’s teaching about the root of suffering is often misunderstood. It is not desire and attachment that cause suffering; desire is the fire that springs from the basic life force.
Drawing upon the science of attachment theory, Amodeo illuminates how suffering spreads when we’re disconnected from ourselves and others—and is fueled by clinging to an array of habits and beliefs that divert us from a deeper intimacy with life.
In a warm, conversational tone, Amodeo presents relationships as the ultimate spiritual practice. We move toward emotional and spiritual maturity as we mindfully uncover, welcome, and convey our deepest feelings and tender longings. Guiding us on this healing and transformative journey is this book’s purpose. By bringing loving-kindness to what we’re experiencing, we cultivate a spacious presence to life and each other, making us more available for luminous, loving connections.
Praise for Dancing with Fire
Dancing With Fire is wise, integrated, life affirming, and practical. John invites us and accompanies us to discover a fully human, loving, spiritual maturity.
-- Jack Kornfield, PhD, best-selling author of A Path With Heart and The Wise Heart
A fresh and lucid voice in our emerging Western spirituality, John Amodeo offers a powerful synthesis of Buddhist teachings with attachment theory and the best of Western psychological understanding. Particularly compelling and promising is the weaving of Focusing—a body-oriented psychotherapy developed by Eugene Gendlin—with mindfulness meditation. Through this, and deep insights into the nature of relationships, Dancing with Fire gives us invaluable guidance in cultivating true intimacy with our lives.
-- Tara Brach, PhD, best-selling author of Radical Acceptance and True Refuge
Dancing With Fire brilliantly bridges the chasm between the stillness of meditation and the fierce passion and challenge of intimate relationships. John Amodeo heals the apparent rift, showing us how these are ultimately one and the same path.
-- Peter A. Levine PhD, best-selling author of Waking the Tiger and In an Unspoken Voice
In this book John Amodeo opens a new door into great truths of Buddhism and what they mean for our western world. He links meditation, mindfulness, humanistic psychology and the science of human bonding into a coherent whole. This book is a great contribution and a must read for every intelligent person who aspires to live as an awake and vibrant human being.
-- Susan M. Johnson, EdD, best-selling author of Hold Me Tight, Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Ottawa, and primary developer of Emotional Focused Couple Therapy
With heartfelt kindness and down-to-earth usefulness, this book shows how to bring together lofty spiritual wisdom and juicy human passions. Drawing on his deep experience as a therapist and meditator, Dr. Amodeo has given us one of those rare books that actually bridges left and right brain, west and east, flesh and spirit - and self and other.
-- Rick Hanson, PhD, best-selling author of Buddha's Brain
Profoundly wise and beautifully written, this book is for anyone who ever wondered how to reconcile the spiritual journey with the paths of self-healing and intimacy with others. A gifted writer at the top of his form, John Amodeo’s book is not just about authenticity and connection, it actually offers those experiences as one reads. A life-changing book.
-- Ann Weiser Cornell, PhD, author of The Power of Focusing and The Radical Acceptance of Everything
With masterful, lucid simplicity, Dancing with Fire gives us a vision of how to make a fervent quest for spiritual freedom dovetail with an equally ardent search for love and intimate connection. Amodeo has created a founding treatise for the new, embodied wholeness so many of us yearn to find today. Yet reading it doesn't feel like listening to a sage give a lecture; it feels like you're having a conversation with a trusted friend. If you want to 'curl up by the fire' with a book full of authentic Buddhist wisdom, this may be just the book you need right now.
-- Saniel Bonder, founder of Waking Down in Mutuality, author, Healing the Spirit/Matter Split and Ultimaya 1.0: The Trouble with the Wishes of Leopold Stokes
Liberation and awakening are about being fully human. Spiritual awakening, personal growth, fullness of relating, learning to be a more healing presence for others, fulfillment through intimacy—these are all just different names for the same thing. The fact that a split has developed—many splits, in fact—between therapy, spirituality, and personal growth is a sign that something has gone wrong. There has to be a re-integration. This book is an important landmark on the path to such wholeness.
-- David Brazier, psychotherapist, leader of the Amida Order and author of The Feeling Buddha
Dancing with Fire talks straight from the heart with compassion, wisdom, and courage. We owe John Amodeo a debt of gratitude for providing all of us with valuable insights on the connection between mindfulness and deepening intimacy in relationships. Whether you see yourself as nurtured by spiritual practice or psychological growth, read on and your heart will be touched, your mind opened. I highly recommend this fine book as an important guide for all those who seek genuine happiness and greater awareness.
--- Charles Garfield, PhD, clinical professor of psychology at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, founder of the Shanti Project, and author of Sometimes My Heart Goes Numb
Seekers of the sacred will find within these pages no ordinary wedding of East and West. Instead, John Amodeo invites us to reconcile the split between our worldly desire for intimacy and pleasure with our yearning for a robust spiritual life. His own tender voice seeps through each page--guiding us like a beacon of light toward a deeper, juicier connection with ourselves and each other, inspiring a passionate spirituality. John's best book yet!
-- Maggie Kline, MFT, school psychologist, International Somatic Experiencing Faculty, co-author of Trauma through a Child's Eyes and Trauma-Proofing Your Kids
This book is a masterful, sensitive, and heartfelt reflection on the valuable contributions available in the teachings on mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition, placed into rich and dynamic dialogue with the equally significant insights coming forth from the field of attachment theory and Sue Johnson’s practical work on repairing and enhancing intimacy and connection in human relationships.
-- Harvey B. Aronson, PhD (Buddhist Studies), LCSW, LMFT, LCDC, Founding Co-Director Dawn Mountain Tibetan Buddhist Temple, Houston Texas, and author of Buddhist Practice on Western Ground.
Blending mindfulness with contemporary psychology, Amodeo brings what often remains lofty conversation into our kitchens and bedrooms. He shows how meditative awareness can help us develop more vital relationships while helping us embody spiritual realization more fully in everyday life. The writing style is warm and inviting, like having a conversation with a wise and gentle friend. This book is wonderful contribution to the emerging relationship yoga of the West.
-- Jett Psaris, PhD, co-author of Undefended Love
If there was ever a book to guide us in the pursuit of "daily life as spiritual practice," this is it. In his clear, heartfelt, and entertaining style, John Amodeo shows us how to bring mindful, loving attention to all aspects of our personal and interpersonal life--especially the painful or difficult aspects. He shows how the practice of seeing, feeling, and embracing the suppressed or wounded parts of ourselves creates a sense of empathy and unity with other humans and with all of Life.
-- Susan Campbell, PhD, author of Getting Real and The Couples Journey
A bold adaptation of Eastern spirituality to bring about loving, intimate connections.
-- Daniel B. Wile, PhD, psychologist and author of After the Fight
John Amodeo has written an extremely compelling and fascinating book and one that has been long overdue.. All too many people on a so-called 'spiritual path' are actually looking for more subtle and effective ways of short-circuiting the pain that is inherent in life. He clearly illuminates the lack of any contradiction between practicing mindful living and creating intimacy in one's relationships. His distinction between the extinguishing of desires and attachments and working skillfully with them is incredibly important and offers a clear path toward living life with engagement and open-heartedness.
-- Charlie Bloom, co-author of 101 Things I Wish I knew When I Got Married and Secrets of Great Marriages
John Amodeo’sbrilliantly written, incisive, and heart-centered book provides a multi-layered in-depth journey demonstrating why we need both the spiritual teachings on mindfulness along with Western approaches, like Focusing and Emotionally Focused Therapy, to truly live an awakened, embodied life of sacred intimacy within oneself, relationships, and life itself!
-- Laury Rappaport, PhD, Professor and Director of Mind-Body Dept. Five Branches University and author of Focusing-Oriented Art Therapy
Dancing with Fireis a beautifully-written, lucid, and honest account of how to merge a feeling-based intimacy with authentic spirituality. I've been a reader of John Amodeo's work for a long time, and he is simply one of the best at what he does: blending Buddhism and psychotherapy with wisdom gleaned from thirty years of clinical practice and life experience, all mixed in with a healthy dose of levity.
-- Jim Dreaver, Author of The Way of Harmony and End Your Story, Begin Your Life
Brilliant, liberating, clarifying wisdom for meditators of every persuasion! One of the most helpful books ever written on spiritual practice.
-- Deborah Boyar, PhD, Senior Teacher, Waking Down in Mutuality & Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
A coherent, intelligent, loving book that weaves Eastern spirituality with our need for deep, loving personal relationships—showing how a spiritual path toward awakening and the path toward fulfilling intimate connections can nourish and support each other.
-- Bret Lyon, PhD, Co-Creator of Healing Shame Workshops, Focusing Trainer, and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner
Dancing With Fire is such a delight to read! Writing with a tender heart and deep wisdom, John reveals the missing link between spirituality and relationships. This is a powerful book that illuminates how to embrace the longing that is at the core of the human condition. It explores how to live with passionate emotions in a way that furthers connection with self and others by moving from a state of shame to learning to dance in the fire of authentic desires. This book is a bridge between Jack Kornfeld’s A Path With Heart—a Buddhist approach to transformation—and Susan Johnson’s attachment theory-based book Hold Me Tight —revealing how relationships can help us awaken spiritually and how spirituality can help our relationships. It is a treasure map to the middle way, to be read many times. A great book for therapists, meditators and anyone who wants a better life and better relationships.
-- Sheila Rubin, LMFT, RDT/BCT, co-creator of Healing Shame Workshops, Life-Stories Workshops, adjunct faculty, JFK University and the California Institute of Integral Studies
Dancing with Fire is available at local bookstores and online at Amazon.com
Talk/book reading: Dancing with Fire, July 8, 2013, Santa Rosa, CA
You Tube video of John Amodeo being interviewed by Professor Edgardo Riveros at Adolfo Ibanez University, Vina del Mar, Chile on June 4, 2012. Topic: A path toward mature love and how Focusing can gently uncover our deeper felt experience.