Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 12, 2024
- This week's playlist: silence
- Today’s questions: Can you feel the spiral you are living, dancing, creating, absorbing, learning? Are you willing to open to the reoccurence, the deepening? To say "yes" to the seeming sameness, which is a "yes" to the unimaginable hidden in this labyrinth?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 12 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: 4am: 75 minutes: yoga, pranayama, Ganesha and Rama mantras
- My vulnerability practice: To trust that which is revealed in the darkness of the path...
Thursdays are for tango. Thursdays are for teaching a class I call Yoga+Tango for Lovers. Thursdays are for me to weave what I've learned and what I'm learning into something that, my fingers are crossed, will help others weave a lasting fabric of love into their lives. Yoga is a tool for that. Tango is a tool for that. Tools that orient us. Tools that allow us to feel our way through the seeming tangle of life and expectations and disappointments into something unimaginably rich.
I started this class with the intention of working primarily with couples. I wanted to help those already in the dance of relationship to be willing to trust themselves and each other to go deeper. Now I am admitting the occasional single into the fold. Things change. I change how I think about and feel into what I'm doing. There are no rules. Few guidelines. It's an improvisation. I'm grateful for the confidence I feel. Even more grateful for the willingness of students to allow me to lead them. We are all feeling our way through.
Last night a new-to-me student. Relatively new to tango. A little more familiar with yoga. I didn't know their backstory. So many of us come to tango fresh with heartbreak. Freshly broken open to experience something new, or to test whether the advertisements are right, that in tango you can be safely held. Without expectations.
It's my impression that we're asking a lot of life, and of love, and each other. And quick to judge that things are not going according to plan. It's one of the reasons I pair yoga and tango in what I see as a form of "couples' work" —because, even within the forms I share (the postures, breathwork, the meditations, mantras, etc in yoga; the myriad ways we move through the four basic steps of tango —forward, back, to the left, to the right), and perhaps especially because of the limitations of the form, our bodies begin to speak to us. And, if we're paying attention, to each other.
The new student was surprised, realizing that there were no "steps" or "patterns" to the tango. Surprised, and perhaps a little excited: here was a place to experiment, to feel something truly outside-the-box. Indeed. But it's a place that few of us choose. Mostly, we choose something that comforts and holds us. Conventions of a sort. Patterns. Something recognizable into which we can relax.
Within all of us is this desire for ease. And, at the same time, a desire for more. A "bottomless pit of desires." In those moments when I am alive to life, I am navigating this tension. In my own body I am experiencing this dance. And as I become more practiced, this dance is experienced as a movement through resistance and surrender, holding space and allowing myself to flow.
For reasons you may, if you're a long-time reader, already know, tango and yoga have become the practices that help me to experience this labyrinthine walk through my life. The labyrinth of love. A labyrinth that rewards devotion, trust. Unwavering commitment.
I am grateful for the silence. And for the nothing.
And, I am grateful for the storms and the rivers that rage through me.
I have learned to hold this slender thread of trust, to hold it fast. To let the practices open me and teach me, so that the storms and the rivers help me more deeply appreciate being alive in this moment. To feel both the incandescent joy of love, and the soft and tender mess of heartbreak, the only true signal of love, of being alive.
The labyrinth I experience is an improvisation on recurring themes. It is a spiral. I visit and revisit, and revisit again the places and feelings and thoughts that have stirred me. I fail, miserably. And, remembering that regret is my most profound teacher, I sit and allow regret to show me how to follow this thread of trust. How to weave it a little stronger, more resilient, more trustworthy.
I am, finally, aware of my Ariadne, my Oracle, my Siren. The one whose thread I follow, whose song sings me into ruin and rebirth, the one whose strange and silent communications tell me my way here.
I am currently following a Shakti practice. Opening to Her strange wisdom and energy, strange to me in this man's body, man's ways. She is always with me, this energy of love and creation. But I do spend a lot of my life resisting. I am afraid to be that vulnerable. I am, more and more, amazed at what those in women's bodies experience and bear. Amazed, and humbled. And this too is part of what this labyrinth is teaching.
The ebb and flow. The endlessness and bottomlessness of Her desires. The naturalness of resistance, and of surrender, in their times and places. Simple lessons. Often hard lessons.
I have been drawn to the story of the labyrinth since schooldays when I read the myth of the Minotaur. When I was 19 I made a pilgrimage to the palace of Knossos, hoping to see some remnant of these stories. I don't know what I expected. I do know what I wanted. I didn't find it. But, I stood there. Where Ariadne offered her thread to spare Theseus from the fate of all sentenced to the labyrinth, death at the hands of her half-brother the half-god monster. And today I am reminded that, perhaps, if we're lucky, each of us who loves a feminine-identified woman, may be so blessed. I am. Late to know, but still, knowing it now. And following the thread...
Sometimes resisting where it leads, but knowing enough to trust the thread...
I made a decision this week. Her thread led me to this decision, and to the action which followed from it.
Now, however, I feel the resistance. I doubt myself, whether this was the right thing to do. It's a bad habit. Second-guessing myself.
It's one of the things I teach my tango students, the couples (and now singles) who trust me with their own hearts' labyrinthine journey: there are no missteps; there are just the moving through and the making of art with whatever we discover as we move through.
Does this ensure that every step and misstep leads me to an outcome I enjoy or understand or appreciate? Absolutely not. Often I am led into a dark place and wonder what will I do here? And, Why? And, WTF!?
With practice —in tango, in yoga, in life— I've come to know this: that even in my most confused moments, I am capable of art, of something beyond me, something unimaginable even a moment before.
When we dance tango there is no room for *getting it right." There is only the feeling into the moment and all that the moment entails —and then the step forward across the threshold of whatever I know into something unimaginably beautiful, when I allow myself to experience the wonder and awe of surrender. I follow the thread I am learning to trust. Sometimes this thread leads me to become undone. Other times, to experience beautiful expansion and joy.
I cannot undo my steps when I am afraid or fear becoming undone. Not in tango. Not in life. Not in love.
But I can own these steps as my way through. I can feel the joy, or the regret that is so necessary, allowing these to teach me. To deepen me. And yes, joy deepens me. But nothing deepens me more than regret. I need the missteps and my regrets to undo me and to reveal me as the dancer, the lover, the husband, as the man that I am. And always, trusting this thread, and that I will know my way through whatever and wherever it leads.
🌀The feminine is a bottomless pit of desires and it keeps the world creating. (Esther Guggisberg)
🌀It requires physical practice to allow breath to quiet our minds, wake up our feeling bodies, and calm our hyper-aroused and often overloaded nervous systems. as you do this, your connection to the flow of life force will
strengthen, and you will be able to access a deeper space within. (John Wineland, From the Core)
🌀Resistance is part of our process of growing and expanding as we gently push against assumptions, concepts, perceptions that maybe we can now let go of, transform or transcend in order to advance in our spiritual growth. (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 4)
🌀Walking the labyrinth could have been a means to unlock the knowledge that is kept locked within the potential of the spiral. (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 5)
🌀I test you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 12 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: Can I feel the spiral I am living, dancing, creating, absorbing, learning? Am I willing to open to the reoccurence, the deepening? To say "yes" to the seeming sameness, which is a "yes" to the unimaginable hidden in this labyrinth? And if not, what is stopping me? Am I choosing "no," or is this my default when things become uncomfortable?
- 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.
★ FREE FOR PREMIUM & PREMIUM+ subscribers
Starting January 30 the monthly** Apprenticeship to Love Virtual Workshops will feature Sarah Anderson. Sarah is a tantric coach, birth doula, and yoga teacher and she's my co-host in the Arts of Sacred Intimacy for Couples retreats this year. Our monthly viretual workshops will feature short, shareable, do-it-at-home kinds of practices to help you move towards greater intimacy, with yourself, and in 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.
**These virtual workshops will take place 10x this year, with no workshops during July or August.
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.