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John Amodeo, PhD
John Amodeo, PhD, MFT, has been a licensed marriage and family therapist in the San Francisco Bay Area for over thirty years. His latest book is Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships, which won the 2014 Independent Publisher Book Silver Award in the relationship category. His other books include The Authentic Heart and Love & Betrayal. He is a former writer and contributing editor for Yoga Journal, an adjunct faculty member of Meridian University, and has conducted workshops internationally on relationships and couples therapy. He has appeared as a featured guest on programs that included CNN, Donahue, and New Dimensions Radio.

Entries by John Amodeo, PhD

What We Might Learn From Robin Williams' Death

(0) Comments | Posted August 21, 2014 | 2:55 PM


"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." - Plato

As shock waves resulting from Robin Williams' suicide begin to settle, we might reflect upon what we might learn from this tragic event.

Viktor Frankl, a...

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The Power of Authenticity to Create Intimacy

(0) Comments | Posted June 23, 2014 | 3:45 PM

2014-06-21-147649150309.jpegWe long for acceptance, love, and connection. But oftentimes we don't know how to create it. We may push away the love we long for.

Love and intimacy don't blossom by trying to pull it toward us or manipulating people. Connections...

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Deconstructing the Fear of Rejection: What Are We Really Afraid Of?

(0) Comments | Posted June 11, 2014 | 12:40 PM

2014-06-10-147646150257.jpegThe fear of rejection is one of our deepest human fears. Biologically wired with a longing to belong, we fear being seen in a critical way. We're anxious about the prospect of being cut off, demeaned, or isolated. We fear being alone....

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A Spirituality That Embraces Feelings and Desires

(0) Comments | Posted May 8, 2014 | 3:35 PM

2014-05-07-Unknown.jpegWe often hear spiritual teachers say that suffering is created by our attachments and that the path toward awakening means transcending desires. But might the opposite be true? Is suffering generated by a lack of healthy human attachments and our subsequent isolation?

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How Shame Makes Us Allergic to Receiving

(0) Comments | Posted April 30, 2014 | 11:38 AM

How deeply do you allow yourself to receive the good things in life? Do you notice when a kind act interrupts your busy day -- taking a moment to pause, allowing a deeper breath, and letting it in?

Many of us grow up with deflating messages that something's wrong with...

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Connecting Through Eye Contact

(0) Comments | Posted April 1, 2014 | 11:40 AM

2014-03-29-800pxThe_Gaze.jpgOur eyes are among our most amazing mysteries. Through our eyes, we let the world in. We see beauty -- along with what's not so beautiful. Through our eyes we search for each other, we see each other, and we connect --...

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3 Views of Relationships as a Spiritual Path

(2) Comments | Posted March 17, 2014 | 10:35 AM

Many of us are weary of outward-looking religion and don't feel nourished by psychotherapies that neglect our spiritual potential. We may linger in an inexplicable emptiness until we attend to spiritual growth and awakening.

But the word "spiritual" is so overused that it may lose its meaning. Here are three things that spirituality means to me:

1. Connecting with life's sacredness

2. Surrendering to something beyond our limited self

3. Seeing things clearly

The word "spiritual" may become less obscure as we realize that these directions are precisely what intimate relationships ask of us! The very path that we call "spiritual" parallels what it takes to have healthy, fulfilling connections in our lives.

1. Connecting with life's sacredness

Being alive is a sacred gift. It's a wonderful present when someone shares themselves with us -- opening their heart and inviting us into their world.

When people honor us by sharing their tender feelings and longings -- or whatever they're authentic living in this precious moment, they're taking a leap of faith. They're trusting that we'll gently hold what they expose about themselves without judging or shaming them -- or betraying their confidences.

Intimate relationships involve a sacred trust, grounded in a tender sharing of our inner worlds. A safe climate for intimacy is created through our courageous mutual openness and a capacity for deep listening.

As I explain in Dancing with Fire: A Mindful Way to Loving Relationships:

"Like life itself, intimacy cannot be commanded or engineered, which explains why relationships can be so maddening. But although we cannot control the flow of a wonder-filled intimacy, we have the power to create conditions in which a luminous intimacy is more likely to spring into being. We can learn to rest in ourselves in a way in which people feel comfortable approaching us. [...] Our availability for intimacy is a sacred aspect of who we are."

2. Surrendering to something beyond our limited sense of self

Spirituality is about connecting. We're invited us to open to a possibility greater than anything we can imagine. Opening our soul to life's mystery and grandeur liberates us from a prison of our ego-centered isolation. We recognize that we participate in a reality that is larger than ourselves.

Loving relationships ask something similar from us. We're invited to open ourselves to another's "otherness" -- respecting that they're not us. Instead of clinging tightly to ourselves -- holding onto fixed positions, opinions, and judgments, we're asked to broaden our perspective. We're invited to let go of our hankering to manipulate people and control life -- and allow connections to arise through a mysterious something that's beyond our control. As Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, put it, "The Thou encounters me through grace -- it cannot be found by seeking."

3. Seeing things clearly

Mindfulness (or vipassana) meditation encourages us to see things as they are rather than cling to how we'd like them to be. Vipassana means "seeing clearly" or "seeing deeply." We gently direct attention toward whatever we happen to be experiencing in the moment. Being with "what is" allows our experience to settle and unfold.

Similarly, if we want healthy, vibrant relationships, we're invited to see others as they are, including their fears, hurt, and hopes. Intimacy arises between two people see each other clearly rather than trying to control, change, or manipulate each other.

A meditation or mindfulness practice can help quiet our mind in a way where we become more present and available. As our turbulent mind stills, we can see others more clearly. We can more readily notice what we're experiencing inside. We're then well positioned to share that experience, however vulnerable it might be, rather than cling to our fixed judgments and perceptions of others, which pushes people away.

Authentic spirituality is about connecting with life, not being detached from it. Relationships are a spiritual path insofar as we mindfully connect with what is. Fulfilling friendships and partnerships unfold more naturally as we open to the life that flows within us and outside us.

Flickr Image by Diamond Mountain

This post originally appeared on

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How Grief Connects Us: Even in the U.S. Senate

(0) Comments | Posted March 14, 2014 | 11:21 AM

2014-02-21-images.jpegI read with great interest that the Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe has warmed up to his democratic colleagues. What precipitated this unlikely melting of partisan boundaries was an outpouring of support after his son's fatal plane crash on Nov. 10....

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4 More Reasons Why Receiving Is Harder Than Giving

(0) Comments | Posted February 16, 2014 | 9:18 AM

We're taught that loving means giving. If you love someone, you give all of yourself without wanting anything back.

Sounds good, sounds noble. Sounds like what most religions teach. But giving is half of what love requires from us. My experience as a spiritually-friendly psychotherapist for over 30 years...

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5 Reasons Why Receiving Is Harder Than Giving

(1) Comments | Posted January 24, 2014 | 2:44 PM

This slightly revised post originally appeared on

Many of us grew up believing that it's more noble to give than to receive. This edict safeguards us from becoming self-centered monsters -- scanning our environment to see what we can extract to fill ourselves. Recognizing others' needs, honoring...

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Dysfunctional Religion Versus a Spirituality That Builds Intimacy and Community

(24) Comments | Posted January 9, 2014 | 3:21 PM

This post originally appeared on

We don't have to look very deeply to recognize the divisiveness generated by religions throughout the world. Apart from those with an interfaith perspective -- truth exists in many forms -- people often insist that their beliefs and practices are the only...

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Actualizing the American Dream: What If Wise People Ran the Country?

(1) Comments | Posted January 2, 2014 | 4:17 PM

This slightly revised post originally appeared on

There's an assumption in American politics that our best candidates have a legal or business background. Indeed, an astounding 43 percent of our representatives and senators are lawyers. What does it say about America that we look...

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The Spiritual Crisis Underlying American Politics

(0) Comments | Posted November 8, 2013 | 11:36 AM

This post originally appeared on

America is a very religious nation. But sadly, we're not a very spiritual one. Mother Teresa's disquieting words resonate throughout the land: "You in the West have the spiritually poorest of the poor. . . . I find it easy...

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