Have you ever slept with a toddler or a puppy? It’s so cozy — until you are kicked, chewed, or otherwise treated like a stuffed animal. You opt for the floor, as the snuggling just isn’t working.

Think you’re going to sleep? Nope. There’s a quantum physics phenomenon called “entanglement.” Once bonded, always linked. You might even be in the other room, but you feel every little burp, itch, or need.

Aren’t our adult relationships pretty much the same? Sometimes the closer we are, the farther away we want to be.

Other times the greater the distance, the more affected we feel by the other. Psychology provides a partial explanation, but for a deeper understanding, we must look to the world of energy.

Unveil a relationship and you’ll discover more than two beating hearts and family drama. The truth of a relationship lies in its energetic connections. Some are helpful and others, well, life isn’t perfect.

Understanding Energetic Boundaries

What forces distance when we’d rather feel secure?

Picture the body, wrapped around our mind and soul, as a physical cell. Encasing this entirety is the cytoplasm, a watery field that conducts electricity. These electrical pulses accomplish two goals. They transmit messages from one cell to another. They also form a protective magnetic field.

Our earthly selves are encompassed in a similar force field. If we are heart-based, this shield lets in the good stuff, like love and encouragement, and keeps out the bad stuff, like negativity and illness. If we’re patterned for defensiveness, however, the opposite occurs. Our bodies operate like a beehive that push out the honey and keep in the sting.

A healthy relationship is supposed to be intimate, which means that both parties have opened the doors to their hearts, inviting a state of “into you/into me.” Unfortunately most of us were hurt by our most primal of relationships — our parents — and find this sharing more than a little precarious. We respond with one of two basic patterns. Short of ordering Scotty from Star Trek to “beam us up,” we go “shields up,” or we play dead and let ourselves be invaded.

The Energy Mind-Body Connection

The slammed-shut heart is the cause of the world’s leading killer: Heart disease. People who block love have up to a 25 to 50 percent higher incidence of heart disease.

Those who let in the wrong type of love — abuse — are at a greater risk of all major ailments and addictions. The tragedy of fear reminds me of a passage in an old book I once read. I don’t even remember the name; only that it was written in the 1930’s. Paraphrased, the narrator made a remark similar to this:

“My heart, I think my wife lost it in the linen closet, and there, it’s been since then, forgotten by us both.”

How sad.

The other crippling energetic situation is caused by lack of boundaries, the “too open” heart. I believe that up to 80 percent of our problems are caused by absorbing others’ energies and giving away our own. The “human sponge” is capable of taking on everything from disease to emotions, as well as losing his or her energy in the process.

What can we do about these energetic issues? Well I’ve written and am writing books about the subject, but I’ll give you my quick fix.

I seek intimacy with the Divine. On the Sufi path, the Divine is represented by 99 qualities and I constantly ask to be filled with those I need to remain in relationship first with the Divine and then with others.

This mindful activity reminds me that at all moments I am fully human, but also completely divine. I can be scared, but also keep my heart open. I can have an open heart, but also maintain gateways that can, every once in a while, be closed for repairs. And I can put the Divine in charge of who or what can enter or leave.

In the end, I can be the heart that I am.