Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 7, 2024
- This week's playlist: silence
- Today’s questions: Are you comfortable or uncomfortable with silence? With distance? What does it feel like, in your body, to be silent with someone you love? To be silent, alone? What are you able to hear when you are silent and solitary, that you cannot hear otherwise?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 7 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: 7am: 20 minutes: yoga, mantra, Healing Heart meditation
- My vulnerability practice: I am relaxed, open, curious about what waves are passing through me in this moment of openness...
★ 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. Short, shareable, do-it-at-home kinds of practices to help you move towards greater intimacy, with yourself, with all of your relationships. $111 for regular drop-in, $11 each for earlybird, $79 for all ten—or FREE when you're an Apprenticeship to Love Premium subscriber.
A southeaster was blowing hard when I arrived. Rain coming down sideways. I felt good. A real winter's storm on this Island, something to stir me.
Fifty four years ago the weather was very different. That's why they were boating: a beautiful, calm, grey January day without a hint of storm or danger. The only reason for the accident seems to be the ever-present dead-heads.
There are far fewer now, now that flat-rafts of timber have been almost entirely replaced by bundle booms and self-loading barges. Still, on this bit of coast, the waves were lifting a carpet of logs near the shore. So, dead-heads a hazard to boaters. At least in these waters. The ones that claimed my sister.
The Rauhnächte, those darkest days and nights "between the years," roughly the 12 days between Christmas Day and Epiphany, have always been a favourite time for me. Even with their hard memories. And this past week wasn't easy. Deep feelings of gratitude, for the family I'm blessed with, for my health, for the life I enjoy. But also a discomfort. Unsettled.
I'm not sure what happened, but by the time I got back into the car and headed for the ferry something had changed. No longer unsettled. Steady. Open. Curious. Holding myself, gently.
Here is the wisdom —and the love!— I am wanting. If only, I think, If only I could be even more still, even more quiet. Then I would be even more myself…
Driving to the island, sitting on the beach as the storm blew itself out, that was a day of pilgrimage. I chanted Akaal. Fifty times. Remembering my sister. Wondering, as I looked out over the waters where she was forever lost to us, just wondering.
And: on the way there, two conversations. One about grief, becoming, awareness, about living & dying, and about ritual. The other, about men & women, marriage, sex, the sacred womb, and a story about the Urgeschichte, the pre-history of yoga, born of women (like everything?) as priestesses of the wisdom and energy of tantra, of kundalini…
Afterwards a calm.
And the next day: A reminder that I am missing so much when I crowd my life and my relationships and my experiences with words.
They are so beautiful, words. I love them dearly. How slow I've been to love the silence that holds it all. This is another gift she gives me. Offered, misunderstood. Now, slowly, appreciated. It changes me.
Words are indeed beautiful. I relish them. Hold them dear. Give them freely. (Sometimes too freely!) But they are also like stones skipping across the ocean: alighting here and there and there and there, offering a brief glimpse of what lies below, unknown. These glimmers should not be mistaken for the unfathomable knowing of silence.
Let me continue with the image of water. It's often with me these days.
We are deep and nourishing wells. But, mostly, we are not taught how to drink from our own waters, our own deep wells.
I see this so often when I work with people, but particularly with men, or with men in couples. Recently I've been working with a couple. Long married. Almost 30 years. Why do they come to me? I'm not sure. But I do what I do, and begin to see, again, this pattern: deep wells rarely, if ever, visited. So their marriage has become dry. They are dry, dessicated. But having enough juice left, perhaps, to want to learn how to feel the thirst again.
It's rare for me to see a couple with this many years actually want to feel the thirst. Most —and I must include myself and my marriages here— most of us, feeling that brittle dryness of what I call the "dead zone," we are quick to work on the exit strategy. The well of this marriage is dry. Time to "let go." To "move on." And so we rudely break that thing we once believed was true and unbreakable.
We knew correctly. But, dry and afraid of withering, we succumb to the fool's errand of finding the well we seek in another.
How often, as men, are we chose because she knows, with that unreasonable knowing that is her wisdom, that our waters are deep and true? And how often, chosen, known, do we make her life and ours miserable because we will not drink from our wells? We will not believe that we are what we seek. I can say this is true for at least three of my four "marriages" in this life. Perhaps even the fourth as well. I am slow, very slow, to learn the wisdom of my regrets. Even as I've resisted the popular wisdom to "let go" and "move on," I've also resisted until late, it seems, the deeper wisdom to be guided by what was true in her choosing. She —and they all know, all the "shes"— she knew me in ways I've been so slow and too arrogant to admit.
I don't do "therapy." I am very clear with those I work with: this is not therapy. This is "yoga." I, stumbling towards a bit of self-awareness, teach men and women and couples how to know their own wisdom, how to drink from their own wells.
Most of us need to be significantly humbled before we are ready for this. I certainly seem to be unwilling to learn unless faced with my undeniable stupidity. Sometimes, however, it is enough to be awed by others' willingness to be vulnerable, to open, through discomfort, into knowing themselves. It's one of the gifts of being a teacher, to experience this. And this weekend, after my own pilgrimage and the two conversations that stirred me deeply, I was permitted that experience of awe and wonder, that two long-married individuals would risk vulnerability, would be strong enough to be so weak with each other. For each other.
I have so much to learn.
🌀 Prior to verbal communication, everything around you was an extension of your existence; you were able to experience spaces with profound accuracy; this is the psychic power at the center of your senses; this is the power of oneness.
…Our prayer is that you master your language, but also master your ability to turn it off and be silent. When it’s time to experience the accuracy of unemotional, undisturbed clarity, be able to turn on silence and achieve profound connectedness… (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀With time and experience we learn that less is more" as simplicity reveals the essence, and wisdom lies in the elegance of the fundamental. (Luciano Brigante & Alejandra Orozco)
🌀Be patient with me. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 7 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 comfortable or uncomfortable with silence? With distance? What does it feel like, in my body, to be silent with someone I love? To be silent, alone? What am I able to hear when I am silent and solitary, that I cannot hear otherwise?
- 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.
WHEN YOU ARE READY FOR MORE
In 2024 I am hosting a series of short in-person and virtual workshops, as well as weekend and mini-retreats for couples. Please see the upcoming events site at sacredbodies.ca/events for more information.
★ NOTE: For some of these there will be discounts for Premium and Premium+ subscribers.