Apprenticeship to Love, March 20, 2024

  • Today’s questions: Who do you claim to see you? To hold and know and love you, just as you are? And whom do you claim to see, to hear, hold, and to love just as they are?
  • Today's suggested practice: Day 20 of this month's practice, to pause and feel the sacred space within (see my "Short Practice,” below)
  • My practice today: 5am: 60 minutes: yoga, breath, mantra meditation on Ganesha
  • Did I do my vulnerability practice today? Y How about you? Y/N?

The next Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop, on March 30 with Sarah Anderson, is now open for limited registration at . Free to all Premium, Premium+, and EXTRA subscribers

Every one of the women I’ve loved has told me this story: I was not seen; I was not heard; I was not known; I was not held; I was not loved for who I am.

And so many of the men I know, so many of the men I work with, the same: raised without the feeling of being seen, heard, held, loved for who they were.

She returns for family. She feels the call to return, to family and for family. But what waits there, for the one who returns?

I stand here, a witness. I wait here, to hold all that will not be held. Am I enough to hold all the feelings that need to be held? My own, hers, all that spills over from her family, my family.

The historian Christopher Lasch titled his book about family, "Haven in a heartless world." And yet, for so many, that haven was not and is not sufficient.

We, my colleague Sarah Anderson and I, hosted the Winter 2024 Sacred Intimacy Intensive retreat several weeks ago. As we prepare for the Fall 2024 retreat we invite you to join us for our monthly virtual workshops. We also invite you to participate in our occasional Instagram live conversations "about intimacy." This week we hosted what I will call a "loose conversation" about “intimacy and aftercare.” Loose because it was very informal. Loose also, because the informality and trust that I feel between us as colleagues is allowing for spontaneity —and intimacy. Our conversation this week, and especially Sarah’s insights, stirrs me still. I'm not sure what to do with this (and, in that, there is a lesson about intimacy: vulnerability —opening to something that is new to my body— has a price: a tenderness that must be cared for, or it turns into trauma. It may be a minor trauma, but even a minor trauma is a closing to the world, and a closing to myself. What have I learned in this apprenticeship to love and life? That closing is a prelude to a chronic suffering.

I want intimacy in my marriage. I want intimacy in my family, and in my friendships. I want intimacy with my colleagues. Am I ready for the claims this wanting, realized, makes on my nervous system? How do I hold myself, when this tenderness begins to be felt in me, and between us?
She is on the cusp of returning. Having made her decision, having done so much of the work to prepare for this return, her body is sick. Telling her to slow down. To care for herself.

This is just the beginning of the return. So many moments to open to, and close to. And a body decades into holding the chronic trauma of not being seen, heard, held, not being loved for who she is.

I stand, as a witness. But also as the one who cares. Who, in ways that are never enough, but always more than expected or understood, listens and sees and feels into and offers himself. And learns how this is what love calls for.
You may know by now that I am a skeptic when it comes to "off the shelf" solutions for the sufferings of our bodies, minds, and souls. The best medicine I've found is the one that asks of me, And how is this nourishing your soul?

I return to myself, to that deeper part of myself that never changes, and find here the capacity to hold myself, safe and tight. I believe that here, in this space —what I call my sacred masculine capacity to hold safe space for the feminine, within me and around me— I begin to know what it means to care. And what it means to be sensitive to, intuitively knowing, how another needs to be held, safe and tight.

It's one of the things I love about her, that she teaches me how to be myself, and how to hold her, safe and tight. And, here, she flourishes.
I am dancing tango tonight, she tells me. With glee and a little bit of teasing, knowing that I will not be dancing tango tonight. It's ruining my kizomba, she continues, but you're happy about that. Mmmm... I respond, I'm not sure I'm "happy" about that. But I think tango has longer legs for you than kizomba.
We are all wanting to be held. And held safe. The beautiful thing about this apprenticeship is that I learn that intimacy and the knowing and the loving, it all starts here. In this body. This heart. With these longings and desires, so often manifest as neediness of another rather than need from self. This sacred capacity to hold myself is undermined by expecting her, or any other woman or child or family, to love the infinite complexity and infuriating contradictions of the man I am.

It begins here. In this body. This heart.

I stand here, a witness, and a participant. I watch. I see. I listen and hear. I learn. And I open and, bathed in intimacy, am aware of the comensurate necessity of aftercare, of caring for myself and those around me who share whatever intimacies we are grace to deliver to each other, for each other, for ourselves.

And so I return to myself.

🌀 …when you’re feeling confused, lost, or frustrated . . . isolate for an hour, or more, with stretching and silence — breathing and mantra . . . Return — be true. (Guru Singh & Guruperkarma Kaur)

🌀There are so many others. But you see me, you hear me, you know me. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren, she who must be ravished, she who must be held, tight & safe)

Day 20 of this month's practice, to let these thoughts and feelings move through you, with less resistance:
Please read through first, then ...

  • Set two alarms, for times of the day when you have a five-10 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 moments and:
    • Ask yourself: Who do I claim, to see me? To hold and know and love me, just as I am? And whom do I claim to see, to hear, hold, and to love just as they are?
    • Then, follow the short practice here:
      • Stand, or sit, and bring your attention to your posture.
      • Feel the ground beneath your feet or sit bones, tilt your chin slightly to lift your chest open and straighten your neck.
      • Take a deep breath, through your nose, and hold it gently for the count of six. Relax the breath for the count of eight. Repeat three times.
  • 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? Am I 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.