Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 3, 2024
- This month's playlist: Winter, by VOCES8 https://music.apple.com/ca/album/winter/1440749883
- Today’s questions: What do you think? Are you aware of what you are doing as you walk through your day? Or is it mostly a routine, a habit that you've picked up and it's now too comfortable to examine? And what would happen if you started to notice what it is that you're doing, instead of just doing it, without thought?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 3 of this month's practice, a breath work (pranayama) for "balancing," to allow these thoughts and feelings to move through you, with less resistance (see my "Short Practice,” below)
- My practice today: 4:30am: 90 minutes: yoga, mantra, Healing Heart meditation
- My vulnerability practice: I see all of the signs. I feel all of the "feels." And even though everything feels elusive, this thing I trust: that this path is mine, and there is no other.
As a teacher I often begin my classes or coaching sessions with this advice: listen to your body; feel the discomfort, and trust that your body will tell you if it is the discomfort of something new, or the discomfort of impending breakage. Pay attention: your body is speaking to you.
As a teacher have two jobs: one, to create & hold a safe space for those who choose to learn; two, within that space, to prod & provoke students into discomfort, and then guide them to trust themselves to get through that discomfort of coming to know themselves.
When I am in relationships or conversations outside of teaching, just being me may disturb others. Sometimes that’s fine. But that’s not my intent. Instead, my intention is to hold space for myself as I allow the world to discomfort me, and then notice: am I opening or closing to life? Am I opening or closing to whatever gifts might be tucked away inside the ugliness & discomfort I feel?
That’s pretty much the only true thing I know: that edge I keep walking to, and keep stepping back from. An ebb and flow.
I’m also keenly aware of how others open & close to me. I believe that my practice at this time of my life is to be sure enough of myself & stable enough in myself that others can relax, open, begin to feel more of themselves. That's why it's important for me to become more & more acquainted with my edge of discomfort: this edge shows me what I am capable of holding, safely.
Sometimes this feels like testing. Why would I open myself to this testing? To become safer for life and love. To experience the beauty of life at unimaginable depths, depths that might otherwise be perceived as painful.
I test you. She told me this recently, while we alone together for the first time in years. I know this. I feel it almost daily. But why? I know why: That she might trust me, might feel safe to open to me, again.
The other day I could feel myself tested. I was at an edge, and I only wanted to be consoled.
That was interesting: to see how I thought to be consoled, the people and activities that I might find comforting in my discomfort. In the end I did what this season (and, frankly, every season) calls me to do: be alone in the forest, with my needy and uncomfortable self. Just hold onto myself. Breathe. Feel all the feels. Let them move through me.
I am not a stone. I do feel the hurt of my neediness, the habit of consolation by another (or by their attentions, affections, adorations...). I feel this hurt as a yearning for what is beyond me.
Alright. OK. Feel that. Hold that, gently. Hold myself, gently. No judgement.
I know that holding onto myself is the first step towards transmuting this yearning for something I believe to be outside of myself into something that is within me. The neediness and the wanting, they're not bad, per se. They're a guide. I can (and often do) choose to be distracted, to focus outwards. Or, I can choose to feel it all, and feeling it all allow it be what I desire. I become lovely and loveable by being lovely, loving myself.
That does sound too easy. It's simple. But not easy, this process of transmutation. I've found that my forest walks and my meditations and my yoga practices help. They quiet my mind. With a quiet mind I can begin to feel things that, when I'm busy feeling sh*tty, I can't feel. Like how much love and beauty is in my life.
Being busy (aka being anxious, neurotic, insensitive, an idiot —pick one or more, they often are just ways of expressing an inability I have of knowing how powerfully rich and wonderful my life is right now).
As I was saying: Being busy is one of the ways I do not notice myself or the life I'm creating. I have so much. And I've had so much. How many gifts were passed over, unopened? Unknown? Taken for granted? Treated habitually instead of being adored?
One of my greatest fears is that, if I had all that I think I want, right now, I'd still be incapable of appreciating what I've been given. It's happened before. I regret that. I'm still not sure I know how to break that habit.
These are good days to consider these things: testing, habits, my capacity to be & receive the love & the beauty I yearn for. We're in the middle of these dark days between years. The Rauhnächte. And, today, January 3, I'm inching closer to one of my anniversaries of painfully knowing I'm alive, the most potent one of these in my life: I am preparing.
On January 5 I'll make a small pilgrimage. I will remember, and honour, and be with the pain. The first heartbreak.
Last year was the year of the Selkies. I was reminded that I am not alone in this life, though lost and alone for so many years, and the cause of so much suffering as I blundered about. Being busy. Being a stone, unfeeling. This pilgrimage is not about a clinging-to but about a not-feeling-enough. A not-knowing-fully just how rich and how beautiful this life of mine is.
So that when the angels knock on my door next time I'm aware enough to know the gift they bring.
I'm being tested: Am I awake yet? Aware yet? Do I not yet know how much I am loved, and how worthy I am? Will I recognize love when She comes to my door?
That's what these dark days are for: to question myself, and feel the heartbreak, not to punish myself, but to remind myself: You are alive! Be the man you are! Walk this path, with your heart fully open! Trust yourself —and trust this path to bring you home.
Thank you to one of my "1000 early readers" for the question that inspired some of what was written here, today. Dear readers, your words matter. Don't hesitate to email or message me.
🌀Love is not a feeling of happiness. Love is a willingness to sacrifice. (Michael Novak)
🌀The devotional lover offers selfless service, not because they are a martyr but because they set themself free from needing anything to change before they are willing to live as love. (Justin Patrick Pierce & Londin Winters)
🌀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 test you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 3 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 aware of what I am doing as I walk through my day? Or is it mostly a routine, or a habit that I've picked up and it's now too comfortable to examine? And what would happen if I started to notice what it is that I'm doing, instead of just doing it, without thought?
- 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.