Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 4, 2024
- This week's playlist: Winter, by VOCES8 https://music.apple.com/ca/album/winter/1440749883
- Today’s questions: How are you tested today? And what do you do with that knowledge?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 4 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 practice today: 5am: 60 minutes: yoga, mantra, Healing Heart meditation
- My vulnerability practice: This is a tender place I'm rushing towards —Slow down! Breathe! Allow myself to feel every opening, every desire to close, to let it break me open. (And remembering: There is treasure here...)
There is only one appropriate response to these feelings of doubt and wanting and grief: to breathe, to deepen these roots, and become the awareness this moment needs. I am gathering together all that I know with unreasonable knowing, and breathing into this knowing.
With grace, and with gratitude.
This is how I become the man this moment needs. The man I need. The man my beloved needs. There is only one way: through.
The nature of my experience of this life and Her tests (& her testing) is the spiral. It keeps feeling the same. But it’s not, and I’m not.
In my mind the day is today. Mother says it's tomorrow. So this is it, a couple of days in these beloved darkest days, of either opening or closing to these feelings, this first and greatest heartbreak, when my younger sister was lost to the sea.
We all grieved in our own way. The three of us still standing after those early days in January 1970, we responded to the blunt force trauma of her death in different ways. My father raged. My mother internalized, then went to hospital as her body rebelled, would not and could not contain the grief. I shut down. I tried to erase and block the memories of this so-close, so-loved sibling.
We could not support each other in our separate grieving. I was a child. My parents, in retrospect, not much more than that. I know, and I knew then, that they loved me. Perhaps beyond their years, and I’m grateful for that. But what I now know of love & heartbreak, & of the infinite testing that life offers, and my own still hard-to-imagine power to feel love & grief and not be swept away by these feelings—that was still well into the future.
Today, these days, but not just these days, I'm still tested. Any time there is vulnerability, intimacy… testing: am I able to hold this, to feel this, and still stand, with my heart open?
In the midst of what I've often described as one of the hardest experiences of my life, a weekend retreat about "fierce intimacy," I was struggling to stay open. I wasn't alone. So many of us —all of us?— men were at the edge of collapse. And our teacher told us, over and over, the mantra I still use when I'm at that edge: "Breathe! Breathe and she will return." Because when I breathe into my deepest places I have the depth and capacity to hold everything She (and she) brings to me. And holding it, allowing it, we are transformed.
This is the gift of Her testing. Of life's testing. Of love's testing. Of her testing. The gift of transformation into beauty and love unimaginable.
But the testing is still crazy scary. Even when I know that I'm that deep.
Last year, after my now-annual pilgrimage to the waters and that claimed my sister, and the feelings of loss and confusion that threatened to swallow me, I experienced something strange. Beautiful, yes. But still too strange for me to talk about it. I turned to she who is my Oracle, and she told me, "What you experienced is real. She is always with you."
And what, pray tell, to do with that? Because I am not good at this, this experience of loving through the changed forms of our relationships and ways of being together and together-apart in this life. I want them to be the way I want them to be, damn it!
Grace. Gratitude. I was reminded of how powerful these are a few days ago. And now I see it, references to grace and gratitude everywhere. As I see references to feminine testing everywhere. When this happens, when messages are repeated, when strange things provoke the power of coincidence, I now know to pay attention!
It wasn't that long ago —three years? Four years?— that I began to visit the gratitude I have for having this sister in my life, for my eight years with her. How much I learned (& willfully forgot) about love. Companionship. Tenderness. The beautiful and the capriciousness of the feminine, even in a child. Now I see this in every woman I meet. Every woman I dance with. Every woman I share words with. Every woman I dance with. The gift of this sister, our few years together. This is how I begin to honour what she left for me.
In the yogic calendar 2024 is an "8 year." A year of infinite testing. We are invited to step up to the plate of who we are. Until I know myself, I cannot know my beloved, nor can I merge into that "authentic relationship" I yearn for.
Five years ago I was, in these Rauhnächte, these dark days between the years when the memory of my sister's death hovers, still hovers, calling me to go deeper, I was feeling the crushing weight of heartbreak and confusion. I was also beginning to feel my way through, and I began what I call my "vulnerability practice." It's a simple thing. I still practice, because I want to be honest with myself, and with those I love.
My vulnerability practice is how I become ever-more familiar with my heartbreak and with my regret, as both teachers and as the path towards an authentic relationship with myself. This led, eventually, to knowing myself as lovely, and loveable, even though deeply flawed. It has led me to becoming trustsworthy again, in the eyes of my beloved, if not yet her heart.
My pilgrimage tomorrow is another part of this vulnerability practice: I am placing myself in that place of suffering, not to suffer, but to remember, with gratitude, the love I experienced, the love that is always with me.
🌀 If we do not live honestly, how shall we discover who we are? How shall we know the beloved? How shall we ever merge? (Siri Prakash)
🌀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)
🌀…every moment is your opportunity to innocently begin at the beginning with gratitude… (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀I test you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 4 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: How am I tested today? And what do I do with that knowledge? Am I opening to the test, or closing? There is no right or wrong, there is only becoming aware, and then allowing your deeper awareness to make the decision that is right for your body-mind in this moment.
- 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.