Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 10, 2024
- This week's playlist: the Siren song of Her silence
- Today’s questions: What obstacles do you experience in your way today? What would happen if you stopped resisting them, if you were gentle with them, and yourself, instead? What might happen then?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 10 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: 6am: 60 minutes: yoga, mantras and breathwork from the Shakti sadhana)
- My vulnerability practice: To recognize, again, that I am the obstacle to experiencing the love and the beauty I yearn for, and to dissolve into that recognition...
★ Starting January 30 the monthly (10x, no workshops July and August) Apprenticeship to Love Virtual Workshops will feature my couples' retreat co-host Sarah Anderson. Short, shareable, do-it-at-home kinds of practices to help you move towards greater intimacy, with yourself, with all of your relationships. $111 for regular drop-in, $11 each for earlybird, $79 for all ten—or FREE when you're an Apprenticeship to Love Premium subscriber.
I lay down my arms. I begin to allow myself to be the man I am. That takes shedding the romance of the “warrior.” Saying goodbye to what I used to believe protected me.
Why would I do this? Because I am done with the warrior work as it's been described for me. I cannot penetrate her with love when my heart is hidden behind a shield. I cannot receive what she —and what She, this life, this profoundly overwhelming and beautiful life— gives me when I am still fighting for what is already here.
And so I ask myself, What holds me back from being so naked to Her nourishment? What holds me back from being so vulnerable to her love?
A wise friend said to me not so long ago words to this effect: The beloved of this life needs less of the warrior, and more of the gentle (& powerful) husbandman.
What I know: The first of these whom we consider our beloved is always ourselves, the man we don't consider. The man we believe is unworthy of softness and patience. …
Years ago, a lifetime ago it seems, I was caught in a difficulty that was, I now know, of my own devising. And my own wanting. I was sinking. Overwhelmed by the "too much" of what She —this most benevolent flow of all I desired— had given me.
That sounds dramatic. It felt dramatic. But it was not so special. Quite ordinary, in fact. It was the daily hell that so many of us choose in our younger days: young & beautiful family, exciting startup in a challenging sector, a wife who seemed to need more from me than I knew how to give (& who, of course, like me, had deep and painful wounds that our marriage was not fixing, damn it!). I was like many of you perhaps: a man, or a woman, out of my depth, and unaware that I knew how to swim.
I was rescued and taught my beginning strokes, as it were, in a 12-step program. This was, for a long time, the only place I felt sane. Relaxed. Anywhere near to myself.
After a year or so of slowly settling into a little less anxious experience of myself it was (strongly) suggested that I find a sponsor. There was a man, I was told by those wiser than me, who was perfect for me.
I was doubtful. He seemed far too mild. I believed I needed someone who would "kick my ass." Today I would say that I believed I needed someone who would teach me to be the warrior I didn't trust myself to be. I was wrong.
One of the teachers I listen to deeply, often with hopeful incomprehension, talks about the way through the block is to become the solution. And he is quite literal: to dissolve this seemingly solid and impenetrable thing we need to become soft, softer even, until we are fluid. And so we flow around and under and over and through and dissolve that which was so solid.
Husbandry is the capacity to trust the truth at the heart of the matter —the seed contained in its hard shell, the love that lies at the centre of even the deadest marriage— and gently tend to its germination and flourishing. We are given four archetypes in men's work: the warrior, the lover, the magician, the king. The husband embodies all of these. Transcends all of this. How? By knowing, through experience and through the wisdom of unreasonable knowing, what lies at the heart of the situation he has created. A garden. A family. A community. A marriage. He knows, and he practices his arts based on this knowing. Not on a desire to taste the fruits of his labours. He has that too, no doubt. But more than that he trusts the seed and its capacity to become more than he imagines.
My sponsor took me by the hand. I did not know this at the time. I thought I was running ahead. I wasn't. Eventually I understood, and let myself be gently led along a path that I did not know was a path until I'd walked it for some time. Even now, on this path, there are many times I imagine myself lost. Then I take myself in hand. I slow myself. I breathe. I begin to recognize myself and this way that his mine alone. Familiar. Similar to others' paths, perhaps, at times. But this is mine.
I my wanderings and in my teaching I keep returning to this notion of husbandry: I am not here to change myself —or my students— but to allow myself to become myself.
This sounds easy. It's not.
It's made even harder because I slip back into the struggle and striving of that part of me schooled to be the warrior.
There are teachers who advocate for this warrior, who say that it is our work, as men, to confront ourselves as part of the dismantling of the armour that protects and limits me. I am not sure how useful this is. Nietzsche famously warns that those who would battle with monsters risk becoming monstrous. From a yogic perspective, yielding to the struggle to overcome feeds that which I strive to overcome with this energy of struggle, striving, warring. Nowhere, in these warrior tracts, unless it is the wisest and most cunning, do I read about becoming softer, yielding. To become like water. The solution that flows around and under and over and through. That which dissolves.
In my tale, in this Apprenticeship to Love, I've had hard teachers with whom I've warred. That did not go so well.
But with this one that I love, this most tender and most softest of ones, this one undoes me. She sings a siren song of silence and softeness and I am dissolved, and I become so much more than I imagine myself to be.
Today I trust this gentle way. It tests me sorely, because I am used to the energy of struggle and striving, and so flounder as I find only myself, lost in this sea that asks only one thing of me: patience, only still and silent patience.
🌀 Chant with the intention to gently release these obstacles, don’t try to fight them off, as this is also a way to ‘nourish’ them with your precious life force energy.
Instead direct the energy of your focussed attention towards the unfolding of your True Potential. Sit in the vibration of the sounds, feel how they impact you and trust that bringing yourself into this high frequency in combination with your willingness to honestly reflect upon yourself will create the right circumstances for the perceived obstacles to be released on their own accord. (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 3)
🌀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 is ruthlessly honest with himself while being kind to others. (John Wineland, Precept 1)
🌀He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11, Christian bible)
🌀 …once she felt truly loved, she became her true self. (Diane Gansauer)
🌀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 10 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: What obstacles do I experience in my way today? What would happen if I stopped resisting them, if I were gentle with them, and myself, instead? What might happen then?
- 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.