Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, October 17, 2023
• Today’s questions: What are you expecting from yourself, this moment, those near you? What might happen if you were able to suspend these expectations, even for an hour, a day, a week?
• Today's suggested practice: Day 17 of this month's practice, to notice & receive while in motion (see my "Short Practice,” below)
• My practice today: 5am: 60 minutes: yoga, mantra, and Meditation to increase subtle awareness.
• My vulnerability practice: There is a lot going on. I can feel my energy returnning, a wave rising against the reef of these recent days of COVID exhaustion, and wonder, Will I be able to ride this swell of excitement? Or will it smash me against the wall of my expectations...
★ Wednesday, October 18 at 11am Pacific time I'll be hosting "Men & Divorce & Healing the Hurt," the Apprenticeship to Love live virtual workshop with men's coach Max Trombly. Free to all Apprenticeship to Love Premium and Premium+ subscribers. Register here.
This most-unusual exploration of being-with, holding-space becomes an extended exercise in allowing my expectations to become so much less.
We spent a rare day together, last week. We'd talked about walking in the woods with the dogs. We'd talked about dancing in the evening. She'd told me, I'm excited.
I am careful with my expectations. Every conversation, every hour together: sin expectativas. No expectations.
I learn to recognize them. To befriend them rather than reject them. To hold them, gently. To allow them to offer me some of their warmth. And then, to allow them drift, to be taken by the wind or the whims of the moment. This is how I am learning to prepare to receive Her. Preparing to receive her, she who embodies so much of the tender feminine in my life.
So we walked the dogs in the woods. Felt the presence of the ancient trees, the moisture of the air, the stream. Listening. Allowing. Letting my heart speak what needed saying. Not about any neediness that I so often feel (in those hours all of that was, like the mist in the trees, moving...), but in response to her anguish.
We spoke the next day. She said she felt better than she had in some time. Me too.
I could say this every day and every week, and perhaps every moment of this life: I am he who stands in the way of receving what this life offers me. And so often what stands in my way is the striving —for something other, for something more. For activity! Because to be still is so painful. To be content is unimaginable. I am blind and deaf and dumb and insensitive to all that is around me. I occupy myself with reaching and grasping —for anything!— for fear there is nothing. This is the cultural legacy of the warrior-conqueror trope that needs slaying. Not the dragons we're taught to battle.
My dragon, like my Siren, is here to destroy me. To undo me. To break me open that I may feel and experience myself as the man I am.
The world will undo us. We have the grandiosity and the hubris to subjugate and otherwise exploit Her for our illusions of growth.
A friend was talking about his feelings of guilt. A child, whom he feels was neglected while he was striving to be a successful man, has expectations that he will redeem his neglect by leaving material wealth. I was reminded of something Stephen Jenkinson said in conversation with Kimberly Ann Johnson. Words to the effect of, We need to have the difficult conversations with our children, letting them know that for our collective and cultural well-being it is imperative that we leave them with less than we were left from our parents.
And in our twisted way, isn't that what we've done? In our ways with the Earth we are indeed leaving our children and grandchildren with less than we inherited. Less clean water. Less forest. Less birdlife. Less insect life. Less of everything, perhaps, but the growing pile of junk of this culture. Mountains of tires. An ocean of plastic. Etcetera.
When I consider this relationship I tend with my arts of husbandry, it strikes me that the less I expect, the more I receive.
We got together for a day last week. A rare and beautiful thing.
Not all the things I hoped for happened. Dancing, for example.
Some things unbidden, her tears and her happiness being with me, did.
It's one of the hardest lessons for me —perhaps any man, every man?— in this carpe diem culture of 24/7ism and striving and intentionality and manifesting and warrioring: all of this gets in my way.
Again, the garden: She needs gentle and patient husbandry to know Her deepest beauty. The fewer my demands and expectations, the more She reveals that which is beyond my imagining.
I am, she told me this spring, beginning to trust "no expectations."
That is a beautiful thing that I allow, with gentle and constant presence.
🌀In the real hero's journey the dragon slays YOU. (Paul Weinstein)
🌀 Our “work” is to receive. The rest is preparation. (Leroy Gordon)
🌀...Pratyahara is a technique to give ourselves, our body-mind system and everything that it consists of, a break! Although Pratyahara [is] a practice it is not about ‘doing’, rather about accustoming ourselves and becoming comfortable with ‘non-doing’, reducing our levels of activity, stress, sensory input and outer stimuli. Bringing ourselves into this state of rest, or giving ourselves this break, is what allows us to return to feeling the wholeness of who we are and this is what we also call healing. (Kundalini Yoga School, Going Within sadhana, Day 4)
🌀 If we know the practice of non-practice, we don’t have to strive or fight. We simply allow our body to heal. We allow our mind to heal. Don’t try anything. Allow yourself to relax, to release all the tension in your body and all the worries and the fear in your mind. (Thich Nhat Hanh)
🌀A man's authentic edge of practice isn't to do more.
It's to do less.
Much less. (Justin Patrick Pierce)
🌀I want to be seen. I want to be accepted as I am. And loved for that. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 17 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 are you expecting from yourself, this moment, those near you? What might happen if you were able to suspend these expectations, even for an hour, a day, a week?
- 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 that, as one reader has put it, "lands while reading these chapters," please set up a short (15-minute) chat for Zoom: http://sacredbodies.ca/chat.
- It may not be enough, but it'll be a start. And that's always a good thing.