Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 19, 2024
- This week's playlist: silence
- Today’s questions: Are you allowing the "seasonal slow" to guide you? Or, are you already feeling yourself speeding up? Chasing plans and resolutions and etc? What happens when you, just for a few breaths, stop, and feel this moment that's passing through your body?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 19 of this month's practice, a breath work for "balancing," to allow these thoughts and feelings to move through you, with less resistance (see my "Short Practice,” below)
- My practice today: 4:30am: 60 minutes: yoga, alternate nostril breathing ("Om-count"), Ganesha mantra meditation
- My vulnerability practice: I feel the temptations to slip into unconsciousness. I feel them. I notice them. I become aware of how much I want, and how much I do not want. I am decisive, yet flexible.
★ As you're on the "1000 Early Readers" list here you get first dibs on this "For Your Love, Valentine's Offer" — 50% discount for your first three months of Premium+ Extra membership. Free monthly coaching, deep discounts on retreats, classes, and more. And of course, all the Premium content and perq's. There are only 10 of these being offered. FMI see apprenticeshiptolove.com/foryourlove (see below for the next Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop, free to Premium subscribers)
A FEW WORDS TO BEGIN THIS YEAR
Fasting. Do you know the importance, to your nervous system, but also your general well-being, of declining the comforts and habits and temptations you've cultivated over your lifetime?
David Deida says that there is one thing we know about our prehistoric ancestors: they ate, they had sex, they breathed. And that when we bring consciousness to these activities, something yogis have been practising since before written records, we experience what some call our divine nature, an aspect of our godliness.
How do I know the wisdom of this body or what it is experiencing if I do not give it the silence and stillness to know? And for me to hear my body speak its knowing?
It's not that eating or drinking or sex or breathing are in any way "bad" in themselves. It's that I use them, unconsciously, to simply exist. Or, to simply buffer myself from my existence.
How do I know the light that shines within me when I will not allow it to experience the darkness within which to shine?
We all have the capacity for consciousness. For most of my breathing days, however, I've been living unconsciously. This is true for most of us, and it isn't news. It's the condition we're born into. We gasp for breath. We grasp for food, for attention. And our cultures, wherever we are born, is largely concerned with the getting of food, money, sex, power. Again, this is not news. It is neither good nor bad. But it is, mostly, living unconsciously.
The "stealth gift" of yoga is that it slows us down. Slows me down. Brings my attention to my body. Helps me listen to what my body is telling me —this hurts; this feels good; I can hold this posture for so many seconds or minutes; I can't hold this posture for even this many seconds or minutes. But with practice, even that changers.
So it begins. The paying attention. A subtle shift. And, over time, I notice that I am aware of not only how my body is speaking to me, but how my mind is responding. I became aware of this in my early-20s, when a pain in my back brought me to daily yogic practice that, with breaks, I've been doing now for 40+ years. At that young age I realized that the postures I was doing was having a subtle but positive impact on how I was experiencing the rest of my day. Being rather arrogant and thick, I didn't pay more attention, that I was being invited to go deeper. That took a different kind of pain. (There is no way to overestimate the value of heartbreak.)
Even then, in my dull-witted 20s, I knew there was something going on. It's been a few years. And I need constant reminders (I'm experiencing one now): slow down. Allow this body to know. Allow this mind to listen to this knowing body.
During the most recent period of breaking open (awakening; this is what can happen with heartbreak, and why it's not to be discounted or "gotten over" so much as allowed to transform us) I had dreams. Visions. Experiences. I was raw to a different kind of knowing. But I was afraid. WTF to do with this?
I asked a teacher, What is this? Can I trust it? Is it true? I am so uncomfortable with it, yet cannot deny it.
His wont is to not give answers, but to chide me for my impatience. Slow down is perhaps the deepest wisdom he offers me. Slow down, and trust your body.
Years have passed since those almost-hallucinatory days of heartbreak. The visions and dreams are still with me. North Stars in my darkness. They guide me through the forest, through my temptations, on this ocean I sail, in this solitude and silence.
If you've been reading I'm sure I've told you that I am a fair-weather sailor. Even so, even eschewing the powerful lessons of sailing storms and high seas, sailing is a practice that I find important. Practical. Profound.
Sailing teaches me not only the wisdom of patience, but also the joy of being slow, of being dependent on Her whims. (This is so important: my progress, often to destinations I'm not even sure of, is entirely dependent on her whims, as she is the self-described "whimsical" one.)
There is much beauty here, on this ocean, drifting through these whimsical hours of Hers, when the tides and winds push and pull me about. I have learned (am still learning) not to resist, but to —quite literally— "go with the flow." Go with Her flow. Allow these energies that are so much greater than my will or my impatience or my planning or my resolutions to take me where She will.
Eventually, I will take down the sails and motor into safe harbour. She is work. This "going slow" and being pulled here and there, it's work. As my teachers in yogic polarities tell me, You cannot do this 24/7. Take time to rest. To allow it all to settle, all this learning that happens through Her whims, her whims. Then, return, renewed. Ready. Aware.
My drug of choice for most of my adult life has been busy-ness. Not just the righteous busy-ness of business, socially sanctioned and culturally celebrated. That too, of course. But also, as today, the busy-ness of attending to others: it's snowed, heavily, and there are driveways and sidewalks that I've adopted as my responsibility (another crutch: adopting responsibilities, as I can not be idle while others want!).
The drug of busy-ness is, obviously, still a temptation. A way to avoid sitting in stillness and silence. So I write. Like this. And imagine projects with collaborators (it's another habit, to involve others in righteous busy-ness).
This morning as I'm writing I am reminded of how much I need this fasting from all the ways I occupy myself, make myself unconscious to this experience of being alive. I need this. If I am to be the man I am, the man she trusts (and her trust is a litmus test for how true I am to myself), then I am called to this fasting. To slow down. To listen.
How blessed I am, to know this, now. How grateful I am, that while she trusts and appreciates me, she also tests me. Always.
I am not quite so youthful nor so arrogant as I once was. Now I would not risk losing this trust, perhaps the most beautiful experience this body knows, having seen and heart her body, radiant, telling me that I am worthy of trust. Because I needed that reminder, need this knowing.
🌀"Your body is the temple of knowledge." – Ancient Egyptian Proverb (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 13)
🌀When you slow down your rhythms, you begin to touch these Universal efficiencies that take advantage of this light that’s you. (Guru Singh and Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀 In the contemporary era, we have become accustomed to treating our desires as something to be satisfied as immediately as possible—eat the cake, buy the shoes, have the sex— otherwise we risk the charge of not being true to ourselves. We describe sex in particular as a need, hearkening back to our Freudian (and liberal-capitalist) understandings of deprivation as a fate worse than death. Sexual desire is an uncontrollable force, stronger than any norms, customs, responsibilities, or relationships that might stand in its way, and it's often too much to ask for us to control ourselves in the face of it.
But it's possible that we are actually overselling sex, and underselling our own free will. (Christine Emba, RS, p.176)
🌀Vibrate the Cosmos. The Cosmos shall clear the path. (Aquarian Sutra 5)
🌀I appreciate you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 19 of this month's practice, to let these thoughts and feelings move through you, with less resistance:
Please read through first, then ...
- Set an alarm, for a time of the day when you have a few minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day
- When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few minutes and:
- Ask yourself: Am I allowing the "seasonal slow" to guide me? Or, am I already feeling myself speeding up? Chasing plans and resolutions and etc? What happens when I, just for a few breaths, stop, and feel this moment that's passing through my body?
- Then, follow the short practice here:
- 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, Do I feel right? In alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
- 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.
★ Starting January 30 the monthly (10x, no workshops July and August) Apprenticeship to Love Virtual Workshops will feature my couples' retreat co-host Sarah Anderson.
ps. Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshops are FREE when you're a Premium+ Extra subscriber.