Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, October 27, 2023
• Today’s questions: What is your inner voice saying? What is your inner truth guiding you towards? Are the ravens calling you to attend to yourself?
• Today's suggested practice: Day 29 of this month's practice, to notice & receive while in motion (see my "Short Practice,” below)
• My practice today: to rise early without practice, with the anticipation of sitting in the woods and listening to the ravens call my inner awareness to my attention...
• My vulnerability practice: To withdraw from the world and yet to hold it all here, within me...
★ I'm preparing to teach yoga at TangoMayaFest next week, and in these days before, and in the week of, I won't be writing or publishing these chapters on any consistent basis. But afterwards...
I've just finished an 11-day Pratyahara or "going within" practice. The timing is excellent: I'm completely overwhelmed with the season (the garden is calling me to "put it to bed") and with preparation for teaching yoga to tango dancers at TangoMayaFest. I'm juggling the packing and the preparing to leave my house and my dogs with my need for silence. Stillness. Every morning when I sit I find this deeper and calmer space within. It's always with me. But how often am I with it?
I taught last night. One of my great joys, to share a little of what I know, and to watch others take what I offer and make it their own.
I said to them, The elegance of tango comes from within. Disciplining your body to be aligned with itself, you begin to reveal the beauty of who you already are. And that, in turn, begins to radiate outwards.
In a very real, very tangible way, this is what we, as practitioners of yoga, call our "aura." It is the energy of who we are, extending beyond the limits of our physical body.
And so we practice yoga, to bring ourselves into alignment with who we are, to engage with the world —and especially with the ones we love— from our deeper truth.
What, dear reader, What is your practice to align, to tend to your inner beauty, your inner power, your inner truth?
This is not an abstraction for me. I know how powerful it is to practice and to become aquainted with this inner truth.
Almost exactly five years ago I was in the midst of the gathering train wreck of my life. Going within saved me from the worst of what that train wreck might have been.
As an aside: I'm writing a series of articles about men's health issues. One of our biggest health-related issues stems from our isolation. Not so much "going within" as "going alone." Five years ago I was increasingly isolated. Surrounded by people, often people I really liked, yet more and more alone. And more and more feeling like I was about to implode.
I mention that as an aside, but it is very central to the theme of this chapter. Because I finally took the advice of my wise friend (by the way, I strongly encourage every one of you to cultivate the presence of a wise friend in your lives) and I meditated. I went within. And, going within, I found my way through the world and managed, just, to avoid the catastrophe I'd been creating with my life.
Going within with meditation I discovered a path that led me, interestingly, to truths that had been revealed to me in my early 20s. Perhaps even earlier. Truths that I could not and would not appreciate until I sat with myself so many years later, with so much experience of "going with-out," going outside of myself, and being so unsatisfied.
Going within gave me visions about what I needed to do to bring myself into alignment with myself. Specific things. Tangible things.
Going within for me led me to know that I needed to commit to practice, and that yoga teacher training was one of the best ways to do that. And daily practice is how I align myself with who I am, how I come to know and express a deeper beauty through how I live.
Going within led me to understand that the woman who'd "recklessly" revealed herself to me was and is my Oracle (and the Siren).
Going within allows me to be solitary, but not isolated. To be healthier than I've ever known myself to be. To be content, most of the time.
A year or so ago my Oracle said to me, You are not like that anymore.
I wanted to resist that notion. Maybe just on principle. An old and useless principle that I somehow know myself better than anyone. But isn't that exactly what precipitated the near-trainwreck of my life? That arrogance. That hubris. That immature certainty?
I listened to her. I noticed my resistance. I listened to a deeper voice within me, telling me: You've suffered through the incomplete wrecking of your life, are you seriously wanting to do more damage? Or, are you ready to pay attention to the wisdom around you? A wisdom that calls your deeper awareness to know itself?
I listened. And now, I listen. Her words come from a place of having suffered me as I was, then. They come from a place of beginning to trust me as I am, now.
The beauty of listening to the ravens is that I do not know what they are saying, except this: Listen, deeply, to the wisdom that is within me. We are just calling you to pay attention, to attend to yourself.
🌀…looking within is the premise of our yoga practice, training ourselves to not follow the impulses of the senses through which we strengthen the grip on our senses through the reins, Manas. This will lessen our attachments to the instinctual desire for pleasure and avoidance of pain and make us more aware of the one who is holding the reins and using them as a tool to steer the senses on the path of life we wish to follow, the Buddhi Mind. (Kundalini Yoga School, Going Within sadhana, Day 8)
🌀 …a good marriage is one in which each partner appoints the other to be the guardian of his solitude, and thus they show each other the greatest possible trust. (Rainer Maria Rilke)
🌀 Appreciation is the currency of intimacy. (Connor Beaton)
🌀 Our “work” is to receive. The rest is preparation. (Leroy Gordon)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 29 of this month's practice, to move and to notice, and 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, What is my inner voice saying? What is my inner truth guiding me towards? Are the ravens —or the wind in the trees, the falling leaves— are they calling me to attend to 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.
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