Apprenticeship to Love: Daily Meditation, Inspirations, and Practices for Authentic Relationships, September 11
• Today’s questions: What is the offer of tenderness in this moment? This day? How am I holding this offer in my own life? In the lives of those around me?
• Today's suggested practice: Day 11 of this month's practice, to practice to receive (see my "Short Practice to Receive,” below)
• My practice today: 4:30am: 60 minutes: Yogic postures, mantra, Heart Hum meditation.
• My vulnerability practice: Sometimes it feels "too much," but I know that I am enough, and so I breathe and am nourished by it all...
• NOTE: The next Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop is at 11am Pacific time on September 20. $75 or FREE if you're a Premium or Premium Plus subscriber. FMI see https://apprenticeship-to-love.ghost.io/#/portal or http://sacredbodies.ca/events
Before I begin, I want to acknowledge and thank those of you who responded to my recent invitation to tell me about your "seasonal" experiences. There is a lot in what you've given me. And yes, a tenderness. I will reply, in time.
If you missed the invitation or haven't had a moment yet to write, please do so when you feel moved. This exchange of "seasonal thoughts" has no time or seasonal limits. (Here's the link to the relevant chapter https://bit.ly/46pCgLx )
As a man learning about love the path I walk is not straight. It is crooked. Labyrinthine in fact. On this way I am learning to be & to love the man I am. I come to know & love this man I am through a simple yet hard practice, one of devotion to my beloved. This is offer, the treasure, that guides me through the labyrinth.
I hear it, this tenderness I follow, in her voice. Again and again. Over the weeks and months, over all the years I've known her it's been there. But only recently, since I've begun to listen to my own tenderness, do I recognize it as the treasure I seek.
I hear it, often, with the women I work with. A soft and yearning and tremulous presence beneath the veneer of success or of just managing, just keeping the hunters at bay.
I feel it with so many of the women I dance with. Their bodies trembling with it as they surrender to a moment of trust. Or, a moment of taking the risk of trusting, maybe.
It's a hard world for those who tremble. And especially for those who tremble alone.
I am again brought up hard against the dark story of self-reliance, independence. The lie of the lone wolf.
Last night we talked, at length. She, without words for what she was feeling, tears flowing. Me listening, aware. Trying to make a home for her hurt.
How many of us with feminine yearning (that is, if we listen, if we allow ourselves to feel it, all of us) in our hearts, our bodies? How many of us do not suffer in the hunting grounds of this life? And, if you're a dancer, one who knows the joys of release into dance, the joys of witnessing this release —how many of us who know ourselves as dancers do not know that our dance communities are so often not safe places to allow ourselves to know our deeper yearning, certainly not to express this yearning?
Can we even call these "communities?" Maybe they are no less safe than the families and communities that allow predation. But still... Here we create the zones of contact that stir deep desires, that seem to be safe for our needs to express themselves and to be shared with others who also have these needs. How do we look after each other here? Can we really trust them as "communities" when they cannot care for or protect the most tender and most treasured of citizens?
Social dance is courtship. Novices and onlookers know this. They know it better than those of us who've become experienced and innured (superficially) to the not-so-subtle magic of the sexual polarities that every lead/follow dance plays with. We have, as Emba says of our attitudes about sex itself, taken something sacred and made it less so. To our diminishment, generally. And at the expense of our feminine desires —all of us, man or woman or otherwise identified.
We dance to join. To make something beautiful, together. But disregarding its roots in the richness of courtship, making it an exercise in movement somehow divorced from our deeper bodies, we've hollowed it out. As we've hollowed out our experiences of love, beauty, communion, marriage. We settle for an experience of dance that we think is about physically exercising our bodies, together, but without awareness of the energies we're stirring. Or, aware of them but not considering how tender they are. How this stirring has consequences.
She asked for patience. That was years ago in a vulnerable moment. But I didn't know how to interpret that offering. Said from the edge of her capacity to put words to her experience, her truth... I didn't see this, or feel it.
Now, years later, perhaps.
Some time ago I read this: "Loving a woman who hasn't been loved correctly takes patience... So be patient with me." The source was anonymous. But it was my beloved, it was the divine Feminine, it was She, speaking directly. And I understood. At least a little more: this culture is not a home for the feminine, though it is at our death beds (so the research says) the feminine (love, beauty, our concern for relationships and the legacy of family and love) that we prize most of all. Reading this passage all things fell into place.
Her gift —the gift of this feminine energy that flows through me, around me, this nourishment that I crave, that I experience as beauty, as love— this gift rewards patience. Stillness. Awareness. Devotion.
The labyrinth I walk has many turns. Sometimes they confuse me, and I need to sit. Listen. Hear what is being said. Feel what is not being said.
I am slowly, as I take my time with this path, learning my art of patient awareness. It is a way of loving and attending to Her flow that I struggle to describe. Teaching it helps. Dancing tango helps. Here, in this most polarized of social or couple dances, I practice.
I danced two milongas this weekend, and was offered two lessons in "quality not quantity." Two lessons in patience —and serendipity.
I am introducing myself to a new tango community. Becoming know. Seen. Hoping to be seen and known as trustworthy. The codes of tango —cabeco and mirada, the non-verbal ways we signal interest in dancing together— are a way of protecting the vulnerable. Barriers that reward patience, and trust. Eventually, tanda by tanda (the groups of three-four songs we dance before breaking our connection to seek it with another), I hope to prove myself worthy of the followers' tenderness. It is from this vulnerability that She blossoms, and that the individual followers may know a deeper experience of their own yearning and joy.
One night, in the midst of a sea of faces who do not know me, a cabeco was graciously returned. An unknown quarter, a woman I had not even watched dance, rewarded my risk with two profound tandas over the course of the evening. At the end of the second she held me, not wanting to release the embrace but intensifying it, just a little. As if to say, "Thank you. I felt held. I felt your devotional attention and I was able to know myself and express myself a little more than usual." That is my conceit, that this is what she was expressing. A conceit that I will allow to stand. It underwrites my approach to tango, and life.
Another night, in a very busy and crowded milonga, another sea of (mostly) unknown faces, eyes with whom to share brief encounters —but very few invitations to cross the floor to dance. But then, I see these eyes from across the floor. She has been sitting. A lot. I wonder, "Is she practicing 'quality over quantity?' Or is she, like me, unknown here, and perhaps a little desperate. Desperate enough to take a chance with me, another unknown?
After some hesitation, a few tandas, a few missed tandas as my "unknown" status left me largely untried by so many of the dancers I thought I wanted to dance with... I returned her patient mirada and crossed the floor. I took her hand, led her onto the floor, opened my arms, and received her. It was as if she'd melted into this embrace. All I could imagine was: this one, she is so soft, so tender. And then: How do I know this gift? How do I celebrate her vulnerability? How do I exercise my art of devotion to her blossoming in these next few minutes, this tanda we have together.
It was a rare experience. And for all the quantity I'd longed for, to be rewarded with this depth of willingness to trust... Sometimes the most beautiful things can only come to me when I have waited, have allowed myself to be lost in the labyrinth.
And then, to hear my beloved and her sorrow and feel my desire to hold her. All of it coming together, and I am amazed.
🌀 Devotion creates individuation within this mixture [of sacred energies] with your own identity in the center. (Guru Singh and Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀 I think that many of us want something more from sex than what we have been willing to acknowledge: pleasure, yes, but also closeness, mutuality, even a sense of the sacred. It's also likely that we have been asking too much from it: self-definition, self-actualization, total fulfillment. (Christine Emba, Rethinking Sex)
🌀 The Conscious Warrior honours and protects the feminine, both in himself, in women and children, and in the world. (John Wineland, Precept 8)
🌀You’re not like that now. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED PRACTICE
Day 11 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, What is the offer of tenderness in this moment? This day? How am I holding this offer in my own life? In the lives of those around me?
- 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.
★ IF YOU ARE READY TO BE PART OF THE SACRED SPACE THAT I HOLD FOR Apprenticeship to Love Premium and Premium Plus subscribers on September 20, please see https://apprenticeship-to-love.ghost.io/#/portal for details...