The latest conversation with Leroy Gordon, "The King," coming to the podcast this week...

Apprenticeship to Love, May 20, 2024

  • Today’s questions: Where do I feel most attacked, most defensive? What would happen if I accepted that THIS is where my deepest learning, in this moment, waits for me?
  • Today's suggested practice: to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine... (see my "Short Practice,” below)
  • My practice today: 4am: 45 minutes: asanas, pranayama (breath work) meditation for balancing the elements, for allowing the pressure, friction, tension, and stress of this moment to become what it needs to be...
    • If you missed today's Apprenticeship to Love Community Call (this is free to everyone on the "1000 Early Readers" list) I will be scheduling another soon at...


I was in conversation with Leroy Gordon this week as part of the podcast series on "masculine archetypes" and "men's work." This episode was about "the King."

I was reminded again of these words of Leroy's, Our work, as men, is to receive the feminine. Everything else we do is preparation to receive.

Take a breath. Read the words again. Especially if you're a masculine-identified man concerned with purpose, as perhaps we all are and all should be: Our work, as men, is to receive the feminine. Everything else we do is preparation to receive.

Let this sink in.

Do these words seem entirely contrary to everything you've been taught, about being a man in this culture? For me, yes. Until I started "preparing." And then, it because so obvious: to experience love, I had to prepare myself to experience myself as love; to experience truth and beauty, I had to prepare myself to be true and beautiful; to enjoy what life brings to me, I had to prepare to enjoy myself. To know my purpose, I had to be and feel all that I am.


I am often reminded of Leroy's words. They are consistent with what I know about leading —in love, and in tango. As I've said, often, tango is the art form that I experience as the most polarized of art forms, outside of romantic love. Which is also an art form.


To receive the feminine, within myself as much as in the woman or world in front of me, I need to put down my defences.

It’s a risk. I am surrendering myself to everything and anything She brings me.

Here’s another lesson, for men, from tango: We lead by following the follow.
That’s not so different from everything I’ve learned about sexual yoga, Tantra, — and marriage: when I am aware of Her, “feeling into” Her, then I know how to lead us into the unimaginable of the moment.
Surrender is the key that unlocks my heart to receive Her and all of Her gifts.

But the culture hammers into our bodies and minds, from the moment we're born, that striving and struggle is how we achieve our greatness in this life. No wonder we collapse into comfort and feebleness. That way is not the way to our greatness —whether as a masculine-identified man or a feminine-identified woman. The way to our greatness is to learn the art of our surrender.
Every tango dancer must learn to surrender. If you want to master this most difficult of partner dances, a teacher once said, you must learn to surrender. Few men who try to dance tango are able to master it. Why? Because to surrender, he said, this is the hardest thing for a man.

We think we can strive to surrender. But this will lead to our failure. This approach, which we apply to work, to love, to marriage, to all that we think is important, it fails us. Again and again. There is an art to surrender, and it is not capitulation, and it is not striving. It is, like learning to sail or play an instrument, and especially one without frets or keys, a feeling into that leads to unreasonable knowing.
A teacher who guides much of my "yoga of marriage" practice said that to master marriage we must master the "martial art of love." Not to conquer. But, like an Aikido master, to turn what feels like rejection or hurt into the energy necessary to leverage the opening of the flow of this energy of love. And so I took her words and her tone and everything that I was about to interpret as rejection and attack and found the heart of love in humour. Other sexual yoga teachers would call this "tussle." A way of moving with energy instead of resisting it. A way of moving with energy and guiding it into its heart.

We, all of us, every one of us, yearns to feel the beating heart of love. But too often we confuse what we want love to look like for its true nature and form.

I have been taught that love is an energy. I have been taught that in this life and in this universe energy never dies. It may be dissipated. Scattered. Fragmented. But it will not stop being. My work is to receive love, in whatever form it takes. My art is to husband this love. To give it shape and allow it to flourish. And so I prepare.
Surrender to love, because there is no controlling its flow. Yes, I may guide its shape. But that, only for a moment.

There is no damming the flow of it. Only the feeling of it and the allowing of it and the enjoying of it, whether it takes the shape I desire —or not. And, my willfulness with love has never, never allowed its full flourishing. Surrender to allow, not to quit. Surrender to admit that my efforts to control the how and the what of it are feeble. Will fail. Surrender to know this, and then, to step back into the dance, the art of how she moves around the polarity of my stillness.

This the art of my husbandry. It is a great teacher. The greatest teacher. Only by surrendering to my art as a husband of love do I become the man I love. Only by becoming the man I love do I become a man worthy of her love, worthy of the blessings of this life.
I tell my students what I have been told: When the asana or the meditation or the marriage becomes "too much," rest. Surrender.

But not to quit. Not to run. But to rejoin, with renewed capacity to receive what the practice has to give.

Feel the burn of it.

Welcome the burn of it! You are alive to your edge and the sensation of what life is bringing you and this is where everything you've learned is available to you for your art.
How I surrender to her flow is my husbandry of love. This is where my artistry reveals itself, where my depth and mastery of the martial art of love is manifest.

This art of my surrender is where I begin to know I best serve the ebb and flow of love, the very changeability of it. I do not conquer. I do not collapse.
I did not understand this, then. I was desperate to dam the flow. To hold it tightly in my fist so it would not flow away. But like water it would not be grasped.

Now, always, How do I tend this flow? How do I tend my own incomprehension of its mystery and darkness and silent persistence?

And: How do I feel that will dam the flow, and instead, allow that too to be part of this dance?

It is all more like dance than anything, this guiding and allowing and feeling into. Ever —and always more deeply— feeling, and guiding and allowing the flourishing, her flourishing.

I surrender, to know my capacity for art and for husbandry, more profoundly. Here I discover myself as a man I can love.


🌀 Harsh times threaten life. Running away is our first level of instinct. Heart and gut coordination, called coherence, produces a deeper level of instincts. These are the instincts responsible for moving forward in harsh times. Heart and gut coherence from deep breathing, stretching, chanting, and singing enable the deep instincts of confidence…
With confidence, we learn to dance, sidestep, slide, and tumble amongst invisible cracks in the harshness. (GS&GK)

🌀 The entire purpose of sexual yoga can be understood through this one technique—leaning back.
It is a demonstration of equanimity, discipline, consciousness, trustworthiness, transcendence, and love, all in one gesture.
…Observe the sensations of pleasure. Allow them to consume your body-mind, without reacting, without grasping. The “irritation” of intense sensation transforms from uncomfortable to ecstatic. Your body becomes electric. Desire cooks you from the inside out. (Justin Patrick Pierce)

🌀You deserve nothing. (Kendra Cunov)

🌀I appreciate you. (My beloved, she who must be ravished by my powerful and rooted presence, my capacity to "lean back")


This month's practice, to breathe and feel the tension, pressure, friction, and stress, and then allowing it to become more beautiful than you can imagine:
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: Where do I feel most attacked, most defensive? What would happen if I accepted that THIS is where my deepest learning, in this moment, waits for me?
    • Then, follow the short practice here:
      • Stand, or sit, or lay yourself down, and bring your attention to your body.
      • Feel the ground beneath you. Allow the earth to hold you with gravity. Feel how dense and heavy you are. Feel also how lightly you sit or stand or lay on the earth. Feel yourself between the pull of earth's gravity and the subtle but persistent pull of the sun, the stars.
      • Begin to breathe long and deep into your belly. Slow the inhale to a count of four or six. Slow your exhale to a count of six or eight or ten. Repeat three to five cycles of breathing, going a little slower with each cycle. Continuing to notice yourself held by the earth, raised by the sun and stars and sky above. Feel the subtle tension and pressure and friction and stress that allows you to be and rest and move in this body.
  • When you’re done, take 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.