Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, January 21, 2024
- This week's playlist: silence
- Today’s questions: Are you feeling "tested?" If yes, are you resisting or inviting this invitation to "step up to the plate" of who you are? If you are not feeling "tested" in your life, remember when you were, and whether you revelled in the experience, or shut yourself down to it, to the very breath of life struggling to wake you from your slumbers.
- Today's suggested practice: 21 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: 4:30am: 60 minutes: yoga, Ram mantra meditation, spinal breathing
- My vulnerability practice: I am enjoying this momentof confidence and peace and being in a moment of unreasonable knowing, my intuition that this path is mine
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A FEW WORDS TO BEGIN THIS YEAR
Some things only matter in the moment. In the contest of a day, a week, a lifetime these things may have no significant consequences.
And yet, the only life I can truly experience is the one lived this moment, this breath. So, to be present and alive here and now and not attached to what flows through this moment, but to savour it. To experience it fully. To enjoy it, fully. This I am learning. Slowly. And the deepest learning comes with the deepest testing.
From John Wineland I learned: She, the divine feminine that animates everything, is only here to nourish me. How am I resisting Her?
From Leroy Gordon: Our work, as men, is to receive Her. Everything else we do is preparation.
She tells me she tests me. I am acutely aware of her testing.
I wasn't always aware.
And before my awareness I was disturbed by this incessant testing. I would collapse. I would not allow myself to be polarized into the experience of who I am, more deeply, as the husband worthy of this testing.
Because this is what the polarity of marriage offers me: the moment to be fired, tempered by endless testing, an endless diminishment and revealing of who I am as the man worthy of her radiance.
Am I worthy? Am I willing to surrender to this fire? To become more of who I am, as this husbandman? Or do I choose to be less than I am, to collapse into wanting, neediness, to be less than I am?
I work with men and couples. Sometimes in the form of mini-retreats that can either happen over the course of an intensive 8-10 hour day, or over several sessions over several weeks. Yesterday was my final session with a long-married couple. I was, again, honoured to witness them breaking open into vulnerability with themselves and with each other. I watched as they knew themselves and saw the other in a new and raw state. A possibility that decades of marriage had occluded with habitual ways of opening and closing, more often closing.
We become habitual. All of us. It's one of the gifts of our body-mind, to make the work of life easier by creating habits. Shortcuts. Avoidances. Some are more or less benign. My choices around sleeping and waking a habit that's helpful. My daily routine of exercise and time spent in nature, a habit that's helpful. Others, not so much. And especially my habits in my relationships, all the subtle ways I shortcircuit the vulnerability these unions need to flourish.
In the masculine polarity, which all of us in bodies can experience, some of us more than others (ie. those of us who are masculine-identified men), habits are confused with virtue. We celebrate organization. Order. Hierarchy. We organize and compartmentalize our lives (and especially our inner feminine —our feelings and "irrationality"— and the feminine as She shows up in the women and children and men around us). We like tidy lives put into boxes. We like lists of tasks with checkboxes, checked. And, in our relationships, having made explicit or implicit commitments we feel ourselves "done" the work. This is what we want. It's what we think. It's what we hope.
Whatever my circumstances, some pleasant, some not so much, in any and all of the four "marriages" of this life I have always found the capacity to imagine myself "done" with the work. I am, I know, a "good man." I am, I believe, a "worthy man." So with this feeling of depth and commitment and stability I've allowed myself —consistently!— to stop paying attention. To stop noticing. To stop being the awareness that is, really, the only thing these relationships have ever asked of me.
When she feels this lack of attention and awareness.... Oh boy... Storms.
She does not feel safe in this habitual state of being. She wants to feel my depth and awareness activated. In service to —not so much herself, but to the greater Herself of the flow and nourishment this union requires to live. It is death to her experience of life and beauty and love and all the unimaginable richness her feminine being yearns for. So she tests. To wake me from my slumbers.
When I saw yesterday's couple again open to the raw eperience of their vulnerability I praised them —and I warned him, the husbandman, especially: whatever you are enjoying, whatever she is enjoying, this will change. Your work is never done. She will always stir you, provoke you into being more alive than you or I and pretty much any masculine-identified man wants to be alive.
This is her gift to you. This is Her gift to us.
And our gift to Her, and to the woman we love most particularly, is to know and love the testing as the necessary price of our flourishing as awarness. We become the husbandmen to Her flow of love, beauty —of life— only through Her testing. And, as I'm becoming more and more aware: the beloved is always gestating and giving birth to me as the man I do not yet know myself to be.
Now my question becomes: How do I choose to be birthed? Resisting, and creating more discomfort and pain than is the natural part of every birth? Or, surrendering, and in my surrender allowing Her to experience more of the flow of life that is her birthright as a feminine-identified woman?
I have been feeling the testing. This silence has been long. Not so unfamiliar. And not so surprising, given that it comes after a moment of deep intimacy and opening. I know, as a man aware, that when she opens deeply she always needs silence and solitude, to become herself.
I have come to know that these periods of silence are not what I want, but they are what I need. The testing that allows me to practice. To prepare.
And, of course, to doubt myself, and this path.
How deep can I go? What is it I really want? What kind of a life do I want? Is this it? And is this the way to get it?
Then, a shattering of the silence. And a deeper intimacy revealed. My heart, my throat open: I heard her, beneath the words, calling me to hold her. To hold her safe and tight, with my awareness. My presence.
What I am learning and what I am teaching: To trust that She, this flow of energy through my life, will always offer me tests, and that these tests will take me deeper into the man I am.
I am learning and I am teaching: With practice —and the yogic practices of postures, movements, breathwork, sound, meditation are the ones that are working most powerfully for me— we prepare ourselves to be the ones worthy of these tests. With practice I become the man worthy of her trust and her love and her deepest gifts of vulnerability. So I prepare, to receive everything, and especially her testing, as nourishment to the man I am.
🌀From this point of view the eating of the fruit is an initiation into the journey of self-discovery ultimately leading to self-realisation. To truly know oneself one must also know what one is not and that is only possible with self-awareness, and the discrimination between ‘good and bad’. When the polarities are balanced within, the serpent of wisdom (Kundalini) can rise and we attain the ultimate knowledge and wisdom about our True Divine Nature, in other words we become God-like, which was the promise of the serpent to Eve. (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 15)
🌀Vibrate the Cosmos. The Cosmos shall clear the path. (Aquarian Sutra 5)
🌀…process information compassionately. (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀I test you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 21 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: Are you feeling "tested?" If yes, are you resisting or inviting this invitation to "step up to the plate" of who you are? If you are not feeling "tested" in your life, remember when you were, and whether you revelled in the experience, or shut yourself down to it, to the very breath of life struggling to wake you from your slumbers.
- 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.
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