Don’t rush and don’t over-clench, slightly change position to find “home.” Be intentional and pure of purpose. Stay aware of your breath and feel how all comes from your center. When you let go, do so cleanly and without regret. Are these the words of a tantra instructor or yoga teacher? They could be, but they’re also instructions on how to draw, hold and release an arrow from a bow.
I enjoy increasing mastery by focused attention to each micro-component of archery. First, there is choosing or fashioning the equipment. For example, the arrow must be of correct length and spine stiffness for the particular bow.
Secondly, the archer must pay attention to his/her/their attitude and stance.
Thirdly, there is nocking an arrow and drawing back the string to the shooting position and aiming for the target. This draw position must be very consistent.
Finally, a good string release is critical. All effort is negated if the release is not instant and smooth.
We are well-advised to cleanly release effort in any area of life. A good goal is to do one’s best and practice healthy detachment from the result.
Think of how a good parent devotes everything within their power to raising a child. The parent keeps them fed, housed, clothed and loved and connected to their center. The child is hopefully incubated in a spirit of love and community and then they are free to live their life. This letting go doesn’t have to be ‘sink or swim’, but no one can live the journey for them.
Another example is holding emotional tension in an intimate relationship. If each person can get in touch with their values and communicate that with clarity and respect there is a basis for restoring harmony. But, maintaining a resentment stands in the way of fully returning to love. A great skill is to acknowledge another person’s feelings as valid without having to agree on the history that created those feelings.
A botched archery release could come from improper grip or poor arm position. It could happen from letting out the fingers too slowly or by clenching the bow too tightly. Ideally, our actions with a chosen intimate partner are done with a spirit of “I’m giving my best at this moment and I want the best for all and no debt is created.”
In both intimacy and archery we should stay connected to our center and develop abilities that serve the best version of ourself and look for ways to serve life. Then, detach from a specific outcome.
Just like in archery, in intimate relationship slow down into presence and attention. Think connection over information-sharing. Ask, what would serve our relationship best right now?
Here are other useful questions and phrasing that you might wish to apply:
Do I prefer to be right or in connection?
Am I adding weight to the right side of the connection scale every day?
Would you like me to help solve this or just listen right now?
I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t know what you’re needing.
I get that this is a big deal for you. What would help you right now?
I’m feeling X and underneath that I’m needing Y.
A practice of acknowledging what the other person just said is key. (Without adding a “but” and without making a plug for your experience.) Just show up and listen.