Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 1, 2024
- This month's playlist: Winter, by VOCES8 https://music.apple.com/ca/album/winter/1440749883
- Today’s questions: Are you willing to feel what this day brings? Are you willing to know what songs your dreams are singing? And if not, What do you need to be able to hold yourself through whatever gifts are here for you?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 1 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 practices today: Morning: 6:30am: 60 minutes: yoga, mantra, Healing Heart Hum meditation. Afternoon: Pranayama for Balancing the 5 Elements
- My vulnerability practice: I breathe this darkness, this silence, I breathe it in and allow it teach me, nourish me, remember me to myself...
- ★ The January Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop with co-host Sarah Anderson, Practices for Intimacy Please use the HANS11 code/link to register for $11 pricing (regular $111) ★ ★ FREE for Premium and Premium+ subscribers
The yoga I teach, the yoga I practice, is all about deepening what I consider the "sacred masculine" capacity to receive and hold safe all that life and love bring to me, all that the "divine feminine" offers as a gift to my becoming myself.
But this is not about a stone-like standing and "taking it all." It's about recognizing that even the stone experiences life. The wearing of wind and water. Of sand. Of heat and cold.
I am not a stone. Though I can, like so many of us who've been raised to be masculine-identified men, be thick and seemingly impervious to the subtle effects of life, and love. I too feel. And, feeling, am often unnerved. Literally: wanting to remove the nerve that feels, because I am not used to feeling. Or (and I see this with many men, and especially younger men who've recognized the false promises of what passes for masculinity in this culture) I allow myself to collapse and become the flow, allow myself to be overwhelmed and surrender myself to being without depth or rootedness.
The yoga I teach (and the yoga I practice) is all about depth. Rootedness. Being grounded enough that I can feel this flow without being swept away by it. It is a rich practice. And in these bleak midwinter days, this dark Rauhnächte, it is a practice I need, and love.
The new year begins in darkness. The home fire I burn is sometimes not enough. I look out my window and see the garden, broken. My own heart is sore from want of tenderness. These are the Rauhnächte. They invite me to bleak despair —and also to suffering through, to experience unimaginable beauty & joy.
It is this path through the dark winter forest and through the broken garden and through my self-pity that teaches me to be the man I am. It is a path through myself.
I woke, tormented by a dream. All of those I loved or trusted to love me were not seeing my pain, my dis-ability to be the man I am.
I was without capacities. I felt unloved, and unlovely.
I woke, anxious that this was some portent. A harbinger that my body was feeling, my imagination interpreting as the terror of unloveliness. That this strange marriage I've created was more unreal than I'd imagined...
Now, the waking terror waning as I've gone through the morning rituals of dogs and coffee and home-fire building, I am reminded of how important my practice is to me. My hyperactive mind conjures up terrors willynilly. Only practice reminds me of who I am, how I choose to live. How I love.
Discomfort is a precious experience. It reminds me, first, that I am alive. Secondly, it brings me joy —if & when I have the patience to feel through it.
These dark midwinter times, and especially as I feel my terrors, this is when I need to be gentle with myself. To practice, yes, but not to exhaustion. This is not a time for me to break myself open. Life will do that for me. I am here to hold onto myself as I break open to the vulnerability that is required to receive Her gifts.
It is midwinter, and as I look out onto the garden I wonder, Who knows what doubts this garden has about its flowering and its flourishing? Who knows how the roots —even now, and especially now!— are deepening, reaching for the nutrients only this darkness and this cold afford?
This is what her silence and her distance give me: that cold comfort of learning to hold onto myself. I emphasis this for good reason: Though I've been well-loved all of my life, still I want to be held by others. As if this proves me lovely enough for love.
I remember feeling weak to myself, incapable, disabled. And unlovely. It was a hard learning.
I was taken in by friends. Loved by friends who had no want from me.
This is what I now try to give: love, without expectation, without want. I don't find it easy. My wanting persists. I'm only beginning to know it as a beautiful yearning that proves —to me, if to no-one else (though I feel and hear its effects in her words, and in her silence) —that love stirs within me, around me. An ocean dissolving whatever stone I imagine myself to be.
She can smell your desperation, he said to me. She can smell it in your voice. Even when she's a million miles away.
This is the gift of her silence and her distance: that I will begin to smell this too, and in this darkness, allow myself to become lovely to myself. Only here, alone and holding onto myself, with tenderness and with the tremendous depth and capacity I know in myself, only here am I able to love others. Only here am I able to receive the love others feel for me. I am the stone that needs dissolving, and these winter days are only for that: the rains and the roots, gently wearing away at the carapace that protects me from unimaginable joy.
🌀Our prayer is that you are ready, willing, and able to continue your journey to mastery; learning what you have not yet mastered, mastering that which you’ve not yet learned... (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀The Conscious Warrior takes 100% responsibility for the reality he has created — seeking what needs to be changed in him before blaming others. (John Wineland, Precept 5)
🌀I am always impressed by you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 1 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 willing to feel what this day brings? Am I willing to know what songs my dreams are singing? And if not, What do I need to be able to hold myself through whatever gifts are here for me?
- 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 WANT 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.