Tub of Contentment

Last summer I traveled a long, dry rocky and rough track through the mountains. There were long vistas of ridges beyond ridges and deep, steep roadless canyons. It was a hot, sunny, still and cloudless day under a seemingly endless blue sky.

Somewhere past halfway to the destination I came across a spring-fed pool. The water sheeted down a short rock wall and collected in an old porcelain tub before spilling over and trickling into the dusty trail.

There were a few smallish oak trees that shaded this spot and so I stopped and rested. I splashed water on my face and arms and wet my hat before putting it back on my head. I paused and studied the scene. The water flowed with barely a sound. The tub held clear water and some green algae and many water creatures. No breeze moved the leaves above.

The tub itself had broken apart over time. Some of this from rust, but likely also due to falling rocks. Other persons had plugged some of the larger cracks in the tub with stones and moss so that it was still mostly full of life-giving water.

Then I sat and felt the energy of this place more profoundly. I stopped thinking and just felt the rocks and trees and the water flowing through the tub. There was a palpable sense that all is well. The tub was busted and old and rusted, but it was still holding water and occupying this spot just as it should. I felt the contentment absorb into my body and calm my mind. I felt the fact that even though I have aches and mistakes in my history, all is truly well. I could feel the supreme balance of this place and this moment inside me. Nothing to do or improve. Nowhere to go. No searching or striving needed.

I named this the Tub of Contentment and it lives inside me still. I visit this place in my meditation when I want to slow down and just be.

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When I Notice Another Woman

After my article “When a Woman Turns a Man’s Head” the question was raised:  How do you be with your chosen woman’s feelings when you obviously notice another woman?

My advice is to be really with your woman when you’re with her. Give her your 100% when you’re together. Let her know how important she is to you. Find out her “love language” (book by Gary Chapman) and give affection in her preferred way.

More than anything else your woman wants your presence most of all. When my head is turned momentarily my woman is secure in knowing that I am deeply in love with her and my appreciation of another’s beauty will not affect my want and desire for her. She is secure in knowing that she is the lasting object of my affection.

She knows the internal process that happens with me at those moments because I have shared that with her. (See my article “When a Woman Turns a Man’s Head.) She feels the renewal and the life that I bring to her because I am alive and optimistic and that she is my chosen one. She has seen my integrity in action time and again. She gets that she is my clear choice.

We also re-orient to our love often (through words, affectionate touch and by connecting in a meaningful way at transitions). We try to start every day with some form of connecting in love. We are honest with the truth in our bodies. What I mean is that when I’m aroused my lover knows and when I am feeling conservative with my energy I’ll communicate that to her, too.

Killing a Deer, Honoring a Woman

I killed a deer once. I do not treat or reflect on this act lightly. In fact, it was one of the most profound moments in my life. We all “take” life in order to live. A life of some kind was taken on our behalf every time we eat food. I believe our role is not to feel ashamed or to shrink from living, but to feel gratitude and to add meaning to existence. Our gift back to the lives that were given on our behalf is to contribute / add value to the world.

I shard this concept to help illustrate how I feel about my woman. She is giving me her most precious possession – her life. She could be doing any number of activities with any number of people, yet she has chosen to spend her time with me. She has chosen me to love. Time is not ever recovered later. Our youth (and every age) once spent, does not return. And we don’t know how much time we have. The top portion of the hourglass of life is hidden to sight.

In the Native American tradition (in which I’ve been deeply immersed) the hunter earnestly prays for the arrival of an animal that is willing to sacrifice it’s life in order for the hunter’s people to live. The hunter tries to be worthy and to offer respect to the slain animal’s spirit. This is done out of respect and so that other animals will view him and his future requests kindly. The native hunter is keenly aware that without the ongoing gifts of animals, his people would perish.

I feel an obligation when I eat food that my life be worthy of the land and beings that contributed their energy to me. Likewise, I want to live my life in such a way as to honor my woman’s great love, which is freely given. She is not a draftee, but has volunteered to serve as my companion. She gives me innumerable gifts of time, consideration and caring. I want my actions to honor her, and I want to respect the gifts I receive from her. I want her to feel valued by me.

For example, I communicate and demonstrate that I want her to feel heard and validated. She also deserves “good phone,” (good communication by phone) as much as she deserves good communication in any form. So when I call her, I give her my love, presence and attention. When I hold and touch her, it is not to take from her, but rather to co-create a beautiful experience together. So I notice what’s important to her and I look for what lights her up. Sometimes I mis-read her and I adjust. Sometimes she is happily surprised.

I want to lighten her heart by being a good companion for her. At the end of her time on earth I want my woman to say to herself: “I did well by choosing to be with him.”

Declaration of Interdependence

I wrote this in 1996 at the birth of my second son.

When in the course of world events, it becomes necessary for all People to dissolve the beliefs which have separated them from one another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the fully connected and responsible station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Creation requires that they should declare the affirmations which impel them to the connection.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all People are created equal, that they are endowed by the Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Pure Water, Pure Air, and the pursuit of Peace – That to secure these rights, values are instilled among people, deriving their dynamism from respect for all creation, that whenever any value becomes destructive to creation, it is the duty of people to alter or abolish it. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that values long established should not be changed for light and transient causes. But, when a long train of Abuses and Usurpations owing invariably to a certain conviction, evinces a design to diminish the vitality of creation, it is their right, it is their duty, to disregard such a standard, and to provide a suitable guiding principle to ensure harmony. Such has been the patient sufferance of all people and such is Now the necessity, which impels them to alter their former set of values. The history of the present system of values is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny of dominion over this earth.

We affirm the natural laws of creation and declare that all have a right and a sacred duty to respect them in all actions.

We declare that the right of denizens of Earth, born or unborn, to a clean and peaceful world shall not be diminished.

We affirm that every nation’s fundamental form of government shall be honored and allowed to evolve freely. We also affirm that the purpose of government is to abolish war and robbery, to establish peace and to cultivate a spiritually healthy society.

We define Peace as not simply the absence of war, but as the active striving of humans for universal justice. We hold that peace is the natural outcome of justice and that justice is the natural outcome of a spiritually strong society.

We declare that no government should keep a standing army in times of Peace.

We declare the rights of non-human creatures, including the four-leggeds, and the wingeds, to voice and consideration in the Houses of Representation. Human representatives shall be elected to speak for non-human concerns.

We declare that Every person is valuable and All ground is sacred.

We, therefore, the residents of this Beautiful Earth in Common Aspiration, appealing to the Supreme Goodwill of all people for the support of our intentions do solemnly Publish and Declare that all of creation on God’s Earth is sacred, holy, interconnected, interdependent, good and worthy of reverence. We acknowledge and hold true to our rightful membership as fellow inhabitants on this globe, and that as members of this family we have an obligation to conduct ourselves with compassion and in harmony with the rest of creation. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our destiny and our sacred honor.

 

Release Relationship Tension

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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, let it all go 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 then release an arrow from a bow.

I was reflecting on my love of archery today. It occurred to me that there is so much development involved in micro-skills and focused attention to each point of action. First, there is choosing or fashioning the equipment (which I have often made myself.) Secondly, the archer must pay attention to his/her attitude and stance. Then, there is nocking an arrow and drawing back the bow to the shooting position and aiming for the target. All effort to this point is negated if the actual release is not instant and smooth.

The obvious metaphor is to cleanly release our effort and development of mastery in any area of life. We do our best and then practice a healthy detachment from the results. A specific example is how a good parent devotes everything within his/her power to raising a child. We keep them fed, housed, clothed and loved and connected to their spirit and community and with awareness of their values. We incubate them in a spirit of love and community and then we let them live their own life. This doesn’t have to be “sink or swim,” but we cannot live their journey for them.

Another example is emotional tension in an intimate relationship. If each person can get in touch with their values and communicate them with clarity and respect there is a good basis for restoring harmony. But, holding back honesty or maintaining even a small resentment stands in the way of fully returning to love.

A botched archery release could be from improper grip or poor arm position. It could happen from letting out the fingers too slowly or by clenching the bow too tightly with the opposite hand. My action offerings with my chosen intimate partner and with all of life are done with a spirit of “I’m giving my best self as I best know how at this time and I want the best and highest for all AND no debt is created.”

My “job” is to connect to my center and develop habits and abilities that serve the best version of me and look for ways to serve life.

When a Man Notices a Woman

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When a man notices a beautiful woman he has an immediate choice of how he directs the energy in his body. He can feel desire in his mind or in his genitals. He can make a mental judgment of her looks or how she puts her energy out to the world. He can go through a quick mental exercise of assessing the likelihood of interacting with her in various ways and his “chances” with her. He can perhaps judge himself for his thoughts.

A man who goes around feeling lust for random women will be constantly reinforced by what he does not have. I suggest feeling each passing beauty as just that. Allow yourself to be blessed and let her go. Depending on the proximity and the level of desire a woman will sense the man’s attention. She will likely feel it either as an undesirable “taking” or something else depending on the quality of the man’s intent.

Consider feeling deeper into your body when a woman turns your head and transmute that feeling into a non-personal appreciation for her as a creation of Life. Breathe the feeling in your body at the sight of her form as if it were elixir, as would a desert traveler coming across a clear spring of water.

The feeling that is alive for you in the moment can be circulated in your body energetically to nourish your cells. If you feel energy in your genitals first, then breathe in the aliveness and optimism you feel and collect it with the breath at your heart. Be flooded with gratitude for your life and for the beauty of women in general. This isn’t something to think so much as a sensation and emotion. Allow the feeling to glow outward from your heart as if it were a warm, conscious light. Let your skin tingle as your body fills with optimism and light.

I recommend not letting yourself imagine taking from her in any way. Just take your own feeling as confirmation that you are alive and well and let it feed you as a moment of appreciation for the beauty of our world. You may develop a little message to inwardly say to yourself every time this occurs, such as: “I would protect and serve her were she ever in danger” or “This world is blessed”.

And then let her go. Really let her go! Do not recall her to your thoughts later. Let the moment pass so you can be present for the moment you have now. What you can keep is a rejuvenation of your spirit (that’s not connected to another person). Just let your own life force be awakened a little more.

Beyond Fight or Flight – Responding to Relationship Stress

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I have several “F” words relevant to intimate relationship. They are: Fight, Flight/Fantasy, Faint/Fold, Freak/Flail, Freeze, Fix, Fun, Feel and Fuck

Our teachers in school told us that humans essentially only have two main responses to stress (that being fight or flight). But, I have witnessed many other responses (that also begin with the letter F) I’ll list them below and then elaborate more on the last one.

To “Fight” would be meeting opposition with opposition. For example, yelling back / lashing out at someone when you are surprised or offended. (“I think you’re a bleeping jerk!”) Sometimes it can take the form of aggressively “building a case” verbally against another person. This is an unfortunate choice, but often a familiar default action. The Fight response can also be a mechanism to support FEAR of being vulnerable and open. Which is the opposite of being non-defensive.

A “Flight” is to run away, to abandon the field or to emotionally “bail”. The acronym “FEAR” could be “Fuck Everything And Run” or may refer to the opposite choice of “Face Everything And Recover” (which would closely relate to the choice of “Fuck” as you’ll read later in this article). Often, we are operating out of a “Fantasy” story / old belief we are running. We’ll run a story around in our mind about what a given event means. In this case, we’re not recognizing the difference between what happened and what it means.

To “Faint” (or “Fold”) is to simply isolate and withdraw from conflict. This may look like a collapse into self-pity or apologizing/ whining. We’ve all seen the person who blames others or external circumstances to validate why they can’t take action for themselves. This often leaves the other person feeling lost as to how to proceed when their partner is not present.

To “Freak” (or “Flail”) would be to act outrageously and let your emotions and words go out of control. We’ve all seen (or done) it. It’s not pretty. Need I say more?

To “Freeze” is to become emotionally paralyzed. As in, not knowing what to do next and so doing nothing. This can occur when we have too many choices to sort out easily and so become “stuck” in indecision. It can also occur when we’re re-traumatized by an event. If this is you, it is wise to have additional resources in place ahead of time.

I apply the term “Fix” for the response of immediately trying to make you and/or others feel better. This person views the situation or emotion as a problem quickly helped by reasoning or an immediate offering of some type. This person is often an “advice-giver”. It can be helpful to ask yourself which person is more uncomfortable (you or they). “Am I really trying to make myself feel better by attempting to console the other person?”

What I mean by “Fun” is to respond to interpersonal stress by joking, distraction or otherwise making light of something that is worthy of honest attention and dignity. This type of relationship avoidance can feel very dishonoring. Distraction of this type is an ego-protection strategy (and the solution is to “Feel”).

To “Feel” is the antidote to “Fun” or distraction, meaning to simply be present for the consequences / pain of what has occurred. This involves a commitment to vulnerability and truth. This is also what lowers the emotional wall between two people. When we can identify and communicate our beautiful needs the connection is strengthened and everyone wins. In the Spanish language, the term for “I’m sorry” is “lo siento”, which actually means “I feel”. How beautiful and connecting is that?

Lastly, to “Fuck” (for the purpose of this article) is to engage life on life’s terms, to dive in and “go for it”. This is an attitude of “let’s wrestle with our difficulty and engage what’s real and penetrate the center of what is happening”. “Let’s play in possibility and embrace what is” is another way of saying it.

When strong emotions arise there is a purity of need under the outward expression. In compassionate communication we try and identify the need of the other person in order to reach a place of empathy within ourselves. We are connected to other people by our needs and that engagement fosters understanding. Feeling our own needs and reaching for connection is an evolved way of living a hero’s journey.

The first eight responses are symptomatic of being “off” or not connected with my own center. Ideally, I would rather center myself (connect inwardly) first because I want to act in congruence with my core values, the essence of who I really am. I want to show up for my partner and myself integrated with my values. As I gain in skill (by practicing when I don’t want to) this connecting to self happens more automatically.

I want my partner bring me her pain so I can feel her. Her feeling “less than happy” is need-to-know information for me. I can then reach down into myself and feel her beautiful need and connect with her / dance with her struggle. We learn about our power and our own essence by doing this. One of my teachers, Baba Dez, wisely says “every moment is a date with power”.

So next time there is relationship tension observe your response and see if you can shift into a willingness to engage and embrace what is up. Be fearless and honest with yourself. Perhaps you’ll end up sexualizing or erotisizing the issue. As long as it is making love with the texture of what’s real in real-time rather than a palliative or distracting effort. Surprise your partner, dive into the depth and go for it!

How to Hug

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A wonderful way to connect with your partner when you first meet after an absence is a simple, energetically-clean hug. This can tune your energies by simply placing your bodies together with no obligation to do more. When you’re in closer energetic harmony, then it is easier to move to greater intimacy or you may just allow the loving touch to be a renewing contact.

The technique is as follows:

Take your partner into an embrace.

Each of you stands with your weight on your own feet.

Be in stillness.

You should each primarily feel of yourself (this is very important).

Give yourself time to relax into your own body. Feel at home in your own space.

Look for your own depth of feeling.

Tune in to who you are / your purpose in this moment.

Breathe slowly, deeply and easily.

Allow yourself to just be.

You will find that both of your energies and feelings shift by simply putting your bodies together in a centered and still way.

More thoughts on togetherness

Too often it is easy to energetically “over-give” or to get into your partner’s energetic space without realizing it. Remaining grounded in your togetherness provides the other person an invitation for authentic action. I must first be connected with myself in order to really be present for my partner. It is my steady presence that she desires most.

Share the space between you rather than occupying it all yourself. Over-merging reduces sexual charge. You don’t want to surround yourself with a thick emotional wall at one extreme, but “giving your all” while holding nothing back for yourself is also un-appealing. Neither state is attractive to an awakened woman. I give her the best of me when I rest in the center of my heart and allow a higher love to shine through me.

In Sacred Sexuality we talk about “conscious touch”. This is to put heightened attention at your hands and being more aware of the impact / effect of your touch. Touching should not be a “take”, but an intent of giving will feel more like a sweet gift by the receiver.

Releasing attachments is a helpful practice to honor each persons sovereign space. You may also simply gaze in each other’s eyes and hold the intentions with these words as you declare out loud:

I honor you

I bless you

I release you

Conscious Relationship Ending

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This is simply one way to navigate a “breakup”. I do not mean to imply this is the best method for everyone.

My intimate partner and I recently shifted into being non-sexual friends and allies. I honor truth and depth and openness and, knowing this, my woman came to me with her difficult truth. She told me about her journey calling her in way that did not resonate with being “pair-bonded” with me any longer. (I was dumped!)

Wow! Time to actively choose openness over closure… if possible. At the end of our discussion, she asked me what I wanted. All I needed to say had been said and I felt complete in the conversation. I told her that I wanted to have sex. She asked why. I told her that my heart was wide open and that I felt supercharged with energy. She suggested next week and I said that I would likely not feel this way next week.

So we created a closure lovemaking ritual, but my strong feelings of only minutes earlier evaporated. I felt emotionally numb. So we did what we know to do at those moments, which is to lie down together and breathe. We placed our bodies together in a way that aligned our energy (spooning) and breathed in sync. In this type of union personal energies attune (much like tuning forks).

Once we were in tune with each other the two-hour sacred sexuality ritual that evolved organically was deep, tender, wild and bittersweet. We gave of ourselves completely and with abandon. At the conclusion we felt whole, full and in love. And the truth remained that our paths were diverging.

From this night we were no longer in a sexual relationship and there were more feelings and issues that arose as time went on. We processed most of this “stuff” with other people. Attempting to make your partner your therapist is a bad policy. It is also kindest to process issues dealing with another person with out-of-area friends.

After two weeks apart for reflection, we came together for an evening designated primarily as my time to speak everything that I wanted to say. This was the following:

1 – My appreciations to her

2 – What I want in my life

3 – What I’m willing to do to create my new life

4 – My apologies to her for my shortcomings

5 – Asking her to speak to how being with me has helped her

6 – What specific relationship loss are we each grieving?

7 – How I want to interact going forward

Then she spoke what she wished to say to me.

By maintaining our shared values of integrity and clarity, and in recognizing that our relationship has been characterized by mutual kindness and generosity, we allowed ourselves to transition beyond our previous dynamic while still emotionally supporting each other.

Longevity is not necessarily the best metric to judge the success of a relationship. My time with this woman was a beautiful love chapter in my life. We served each other well by recognizing that our intimacy togetherness had reached it’s zenith, and like artists on the trapeze, we let go to be open for the next blessing life will bring.