Daily Meditation, Inspirations, and Practices for Authentic Relationships, September 1, 2023
• Today’s question: How much is your training in self-reliance and indepence stopping you from being held, helped, experiencing another's gifts?
• Today's suggested practice: Day 1 of this month's practice, to practice to receive (see my "Short Practice to Receive,” below)
• My practice today: 5:30am: 60 minutes: Yogic postures, Heart Hum meditaiton.
• My vulnerability practice: Feeling my resistance to the "success" of this path I'm walking, and breathing into it, asking myself, Why would I doubt this? Why would I not enjoy this?...
TODAY'S MEDITATION: ON RECEIVING
Have you ever resisted your good fortune? Felt that, This can't be happening to me? Or, my favourite, How did I get to have all of this?
In this morning's email, a short lesson from two teachers who often help me to receive better, a lesson on this disbelief in good fortune. What I call, resistance to Her benevolence, Her flow. Resistance to the experience of things working out. The experience of "success." These teachers called for the development of our personal "shock absorbers," to make the shock of things working out a little less shocking, a little less likely to trigger all the defences against good fortune. A way to facilitate receiving, itself a profoundly under-appreciated skill.
I was reminded of a recent conversation with a colleage in men's work, Leroy Gordon. We'd been talking about one of the archetypes of men's work, and he let this nugget fall: Our work as men is to receive; all the rest of what we do is preparation.
I'm paraphrasing Leroy. What he actually said, in his words (and he's a joy to listen to!) is on the podcast at sacredbodies.ca/podcast (more coming with Leroy this fall). But this is how I heard it. This is how I —yes— received it. Maybe I heard it this way because it underlines most everything I'm learning.
Last night I confronted this resistance to good fortune in a different way as I taught my weekly Yoga+Tango for Lovers workshop. There is a reason I marry a yoga class with a tango class: I want to begin the incremental work of training the masculine body to receive what the feminine body yearns for, in the moment. I know that yoga practices —whether physical postures or breathwork or mantra or meditation— I know these help us tune ourselves to ourselves, but also to those around us. And especially to those we are emotionally or spiritually proximate, whether they are physically proximate or not.
So I watch. And see, and feel, how hard it is for those of us trained as masculine-identified men, to feel ourselves, never mind the feminine standing in front of us.
I also see and feel how hard it is for feminine-identified women to be held, received by these men who really want to hold and guide them into moments of beauty. Our culture, for many reasons, trains us to resist the giving and the receiving. Our culture, for many reasons, and from our infancy, trains us in the illusion of "independence." Our culture teaches all of us the skills of self-reliance. Independence. Emotional and spiritual toughness.
And then, we spend our lifetimes wondering how to be with another. Or: I spend my lifetime wondering how to be with those women who've taken the risk and chosen to be with me. What I'm writing and what I'm teaching is the most important thing in my life, and it is indeed an apprenticeship to love.
I find it grating, the youthful nonchalance of "no worries" or "not a problem" when I've expressed gratitude. I feel my acknowledgement of their help is devalued, inconsequential in their eyes.
I read an article this week on the topic of how "not a problem" has replaced "you're welcome" as a generational shift in the dynamic of giving/receiving/acknowledging help. I'm still letting it sink in, what the author was saying. It's a slow absorbing. Today's reading is part of that.
I'm a firm believer in the transcendent beauty of gratitude expressed, gratitude received. I like "Thank you." I like, "You're welcome." I resent what feels like dismissal in the "no problem" or de nada "it is nothing."
The author's point as I understand it, however, is not so much about the state of gratitude etc so much as it is about an emergent generation for whom the offering and receiving of help is "normalized" —against a (dying?) culture of independence, no-help-needed. They suggest that for this generation the giving and asking for help is not only acceptable, it is what expected. It's what we do now. Nothing special.
As a ritualist, a formalist in our interactions, I trust the power of practices that acknowledge and venerate the other in our interactions. Every exchange is an opportunity for the I/Thou, potentially a holy moment. I don't want to lose what little we have of that to the laissez-faire of de nada, it is nothing.
But that a most recent generation of North Americans may more open to give and to receive, I can feel that as a beautiful thing.
In the meantime, I practice to receive and to be grateful. Because it is in my training these past six decades in this culture to be "independent," and to prize others for their independence. A version of "strong" that limits me.
I am not alone. I watch my students struggle with this. Not just on the pista (the tango dance floor), but in their lives, in their marriages, in their efforts to create lasting relationships. Most of them are of a different generation, but the culture of "independence" is persistent. It lives in the memory of their muscles, their bones, their breath, and their hearts.
It is never "nothing." It is always powerful, to give. And perhaps even more powerful to receive. John Steinbeck, in Log from the Sea of Corez, makes much of this power to receive when he describes Ed Ricketts as a man who knew how to receive. I've struggled to be anywhere near as good as Ricketts is described as being, and I've watched others hurt as I've stumbled to receive their help, their gifts. How I regret that. That I would not let myself be penetrated by their generousity, would not let them, as agents of Her benevolence, flow through me, nourish me.
And even for that regret I am grateful. It's "something," and it teaches me, every day, to practice this skill of receiving. It is much more than "nothing" to me.
Today I let her words soak me with their grace.
🌀The ability to know when to use what —this is the art. When you're very effective at this art and science— then the shock of your sudden success will require absorption . . . otherwise it can be startling and send you running for the cover of failure and sympathy.
…the science of polarity brings levity to your process —dream big— prepare for the shock of fulfillment… (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀The Conscious Warrior practices the cultivation of wonder and awe. (John Wineland, Precept 7)
🌀I am always impressed by you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED PRACTICE
Day 1 of this month's practice, to receive:
Please read through first, then ...
- Today, set two alarms, one for the early part of your day, one for mid-late afternoon when you may be feeling low energy.
- When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take three, five, 11, or 30 minutes to do this short practice:
- When you’re done, sit or stand for another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, How am I resisting the flow of beauty, joy, love, any of the forms of benevolence and nourishment that you are gifted today?
- Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
- Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.
- If you want to talk about your experience, or your resistance, or about anything, please set up a short (15-minute) chat for Zoom: sacredbodies.ca/chat. It may not be enough, but it'll be a start. And that's always a good thing.