Wanna Really Love?

To Your Independence

ImageThe people I love the deepest and the truest all have something in common:  a fierce independence that finds its center in god and the soul. 

They all hold in common that the arbiter of their actions is not located out in the world, but in a deep and personal connection to inner guidance and listening to a greater intelligence navigating their lives.  Of course, this means that there is absolutely nothing I can do to control them.  It’s impossible for such people to be fully themselves in the context of control.  They navigate by an authority that is divine, human and entirely emergent through their own listening.  It’s terrifying to love such a person – because one never knows what they will decide or what God will decide for them.  But, it is this kind of love that shows us what love really is, not on romantic human terms, but on the terms the universe offers us to understand what life and love and consciousness really are.

To love such a person is to really love, to love unconditionally, to love as an art of setting another free.

In my experience, this unconditionality is both a prerequisite to and an ongoing foundational practice within any relationship that “works”.  It’s not easy.  It’s the hardest thing, and the most beautiful thing.  The pleasure it offers is it’s own reward.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s easy.  It’s just that, if you want a  relationship that is really honest and true, courageous and surrendered, and authentic to your soul, it’s the only way to go.  It’s the only path to soul level, sustained intimacy, whether with a lover, a friend, a child, a parent or a colleague.  Unconditional love empowers each person to be wholly themselves.  It supports each person to engage the other and the relationship itself (which  is a third intelligence) from what is truly present rather than from what is past or what is projected into the future.

It takes a lot of maturity, softness and courage to create a relationship that lives in the present moment – a lot – because you don’t get to lean on future guarantees or projections based in past experience.  You don’t get to create contracts to control each other or keep the other safe from experiences projected into the relationship from the past or onto the future because the past was scary. Rather, you operate from a primary contract to protect and uphold each others’ liberation.  You get to gather yourselves into the present moment continuously as you do the healing work that inevitably comes up around the past and around what shows up on the path of your relating in the present.

This is the only true union –  a moment by moment dissolution into love, honesty, co-creation, trust, presence, vulnerability and all the pleasure, pain, wonder, stillness, inspiration, awareness and responsibility that arises when we give ourselves totally. 

Why would we do this?  Simply because we can.  Simply because we are given to do so.  Simply because we need each other in order to truly know what it is to be free.

Travelogue: 8 Lessons in Unconditional Love

"LOVE" at Water Woman FestivalLessons In Unconditional Love:

Travelling is learning.  Whenever we venture into foreign lands, some part of us wants to grow.  We want to expand our horizons, test our edges, and experience greater unity with our global human family.  Sometimes this connection comes in obvious ways – in a smile, a kind gesture, in the convergence of a pod of people standing together in awe of a rainbow or a sunset or a soaring bird, in the laughter or tears of a child, in something given, in something received.

In my experience, this learning rarely comes in the ways I expect…  Human beings are preferential creatures.  I, like just about everyone, am a creature of habit.  We gravitate towards what is comfortable and easy.  But, travel can be testing.  It’s a shake-up of the norm.  Growth often comes when I don’t get what I thought I wanted or intended – when a bus gets delayed for 5 hours in the heat of an Indian afternoon, or the tickets to Machu Pichu are sold out, or I get stuck in the Brazilian jungle for an extra week with two strangers and a misanthropic Royal Parrot named Ed.  I find that, if I allow space in my heart for the bumps and the kinks, I always get what I need to soften and open more fully to love.

I’ve been travelling in South and Central America for two months, now.  I’m saturated in the colors, flavors, smells of this land of mysterious and diverse cultures and climes.  Like a stone in the river of life, my edges have been polished by the rolling, sometimes disjointed, rhythm of constant movement.  I started this trip in the windswept Sacred Valley of Vilabamba, Ecuador, then headed North up to the technicolor lakes, jungle volcanoes and tribal textiles of Guatemala, Belize and Southern Mexico for a 20 day tour of the Mayan Heartland and a week at Lago Atitlan.  Then, I flew back down to Peru, where I am now, high in the mountains above Cusco, at over 11,500 feet above sea level (wow!).  I’m travelling with a Peruvian friend and staying at the home of one of his mentors and teachers.  We are living life en Español… a language I’ve never studied and am only now beginning to stutter into.  What a challenge.  What an opportunity – an opportunity to let go of all my ideas about what I think love and loving is and to live more quietly and wholly into something real and practical and responsive – something I recognized this morning as unconditional love.  It’s really ridiculously simple… and very worth taking note.

Given that we are, by nature, preferential beings.  It seems to me that living unconditionally is about shaping my preferences according to the natural patterns of unconditionality.  God, I love paradox!

8 Keys to Living Unconditional Love:

1.) Love who you are with.

The person or people in front of you are your opportunity to love.  Period.  Right now, there is no one else with whom to give and receive that mysterious currency called love.  So, turn towards who ever you are with and give them your eyes, your awareness, your listening, your curiosity and compassion and see what happens.  You don’t always get to choose your company, but you always get to choose how you attend to and respond to them.

2.) Let love be it’s own language.

Giving and receiving requires no words.  Presence requires no language.  Gestures form a complete language.  And, in the absence of language, it is easy to feel the heart.  It’s as simple as a smile, a gaze, a giggle, an exhale in the face of stress.  Let it be light.  Let it flow.  It will grow!

3.) Learning is a way of loving.

Whether traveling internationally or connecting with a new friend or lover in your hometown… everyone has a different language of love.  We ALL want to connect, to share, to understand and be understood, and we all do this differently.  So, love motivates us to learn how to observe and to communicate.  It’s really helpful to learn the language and customs of our new friends so that we can more fully understand and be understood, give and receive.  And, regardless of shared language, we can observe the habits of another with curiosity and respect to discover the non-verbal and gestural language beneath language.  We can also ASK QUESTIONS.  With observation, communication and questions, we can respond more coherently to our friends day by day.  Love invites us to rest into observation and learning BEFORE imposing our own ideas, opinions and preferences on a person, a people and a place.

4.) Love is a stillness.

Sometimes there is nothing to do.  Have you ever noticed those old couples who sit together in easy silence?  Non-doing is a place where shared peace, contentment, presence and delight are available.  Chill out.  As an American, I can be rather obsessed with optimal experience, with getting somewhere and gettingh things done.  In these South American (and many indigenous cultures) the value of not doing is penultimate.  People value relaxation and enjoying the moment above achievement and efficiency.  This can really confront the ego program that says “I am valuable because I achieve.”  Yeah!  By sitting still… we simply are OK.  Tranquillo….

5.) Love waits. 

“Patience, my love.”  In the absence of shared language, we have to be patient with our selves and our companions.  Relaxed, patient presence is one of the greatest things we can give or receive.  It takes time to look up that one key word in the dictionary… it’s worth it.  The greatest suffering when travelling generally arises through our impatience, the frustration of not being able to communicate or immediately get what we want, and the shame that we don’t have all the answers.  Travelling sometimes implies the bumpy process of communicating at the level of a 5 year old.  It implies letting other people do things for you, which means not being in control.  It’s a fantastic opportunity for ego death – for letting go of more ideas, opinions and preferences and being grateful for what is available in the moment.  Patience then, becomes a foundation for peace and enjoyment.

6.) Love does not need to “be understood.” 

Words can really get in the way of loving.  Our obsession with understanding and being understood is often the biggest block to simply sharing love.  I’ve been recognizing that I generally enter into relating with a perceived need to “be understood” as a prerequisite to that relationship working.  And, that what I really mean by this is that I want to have my worldview and my private inner world affirmed.  I’m realizing that this perceived need is more a function of insecurity than of love and loving.  If I am secure and grounded in myself, sharing is easy.  And, I don’t project an imagined need to be affirmed into the space of the relationship.  I mean, really…. It’s not the responsibility of my friends to understand all my little distinctions and the specific details of my perceptions.  This is just a projection of my ego desire not to feel alone.  Understanding can come in the silence, in the patience and in the gestures.  It really isn’t necessary to “be understood” in order to love and be loved.

7.) Love acts/responds. 

It’s the little things.  Every mother in the world is overworked.  Everybody appreciates getting a little shoulder rub, or having a cup of coffee poured.  Every person in the world appreciates a humble bit of help.  Whether you speak the language or not, you can clean the kitchen, do the laundry, hold the baby, fold the towels or give an old man a ride down the hill.  Love is a poetry of action.

8.) Love let’s go. 

“If you love someone, set them free.”  When travelling, we often love more freely and fully when we know that the connection is temporary.  We’ve all had that experience – the fierce, beautiful and fleeting love that will not last but that fills us with memories to last a lifetime.  This, in and of itself, is delicious.  But, the grace here is the capacity to hold lightly and wholly the object of our love.  If I can translate this to ALL of my relationships – to hold and to let go, to pour myself into the precious moment and hold the outcomes loosely – then I can really love!

~s.s.  November, 2012

What is Partner?

What is partner?

Endlessly, I am called into this sweet addiction to experience…
Teasing out the strands of marriage and usury –
true engagement untangled from insecure attachment.

I have exchanged with you the most sacred of contracts.
Our mirrors are well met.
Holograms harmonizing and expanding through the sweet friction of difference.

You are me.
I am you.
And not.

What is our honest alignment?
What is the form that can match our souls’ gifts for each other and for the world?

If I stop pretending that I have answers,
A great window opens,
A great river finds itself flowing through us and me and we
A gentle symphony begins its first notes.

(I think of the first time I tasted Rhapsody in Blue played by Benny Goodman…
Like that.
Like god on a good good day in the sun.)

There is no linearity to this poem.
Because, there is no where to go.
No WHERE to get to.
Only more here, more essence, more love, once more.

All the pains we have caused are forgiven
Our contracts are a sea of choice.

I choose this one.
This place.
This heart.
This body as the chariot for
A vast and uncontainable loving.

And you?
Shall we dance together?

~s.s.

October 2, 2010

Survive or Thrive? Choices at the threshold of a new world.

Birthing A Mature Humanity

WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?

EVERYTHING IS CHANGING.

I CAN’T DEPEND ON ANYTHING.

NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE.

I’M TOTALLY COMING APART.

BUT…

STRANGELY.

IT ALL SEEMS TO BE OK.

I FEEL HAPPY AND CONNECTED.

LIFE IS REALLY VIBRANT.

EVERY DAY FEELS LIKE A NEW OPPORTUNITY.

…SOUND FAMILIAR?

SOMETHING REALLY RADICAL IS HAPPENING:

The world and society as we have known it is coming completely unraveled.  As without so within ~ almost every person I talk to these days is in the midst of massive change, transition, upheaval and re-creation.

Are you?

It’s time to make a MAJOR CHOICE:

Are you here to SURVIVE or are you here to THRIVE?

We are currently rewriting the patterns and programs through which we manifest our lives, our relationships, our work and our love.   It can be pretty disorienting.  But, it’s THE ONLY THING IT MATTERS.  It’s the Path of Awakening.  IT’S THE PATH TO THRIVING.

It’s THE CHOICE as stand at the threshold of a new world.  Choose contraction or choose expansion.  Choose protection or choose co-creation.  Choose “the box” of the old behaviors, old personalities, old stories, or open to the wild, super-engaged vibrancy of SOUL.

We’re entering the AGE OF SOULVIVAL.

Sowing New Seeds of Self

You in?

A Practice:

Can you name one pattern in your life – like resistance, judgment, arrogance, neediness, isolation, showing-off, protectiveness or distance – that you are ready to let go of?

What is this patter GIVING YOU?  In other words, what DO YOU GET by holding onto it?

WHAT WILL YOU GET BY LETTING IT GO?

Chances are, letting go will allow you to be more in harmony with YOUR SELF, with life, love and CHANGE.

Can you name a new, more harmonic and higher functioning pattern to replace an old one?  Can you support this new pattern through an affirmation of your new world-view and/or a mindfullness practice?  This will help you to cultivate not only a new STATE of being, but a new and permanent TRAIT OF BEING that will affect long-term shifts in the ways you behave, make choices and engage relationships.

Example: My resistance has been a way to stay safe within the narrow confines of my own experience.  It has helped that introvert in me to maintain her aloneness, but it has also prevented me from SO much growth, connection and learning.  This shows me that I could choose to be more curious.  I now meet resistance as a wise friend who lets me know that I need to move slowly with awareness and openness.

Example: My arrogance has been a way of protecting myself from “being wrong”.  It has trapped me in a stance of invulnerability where I feel like I need to defend being right in order to maintain control.  When I RELEASE arrogance and the need to be right, a lot of amazing things happen.  I get to be more connected, curious and intimate with a lot of people.  I get to be equal.  I get to LEARN.  I get to follow.  I get to be “a part.” And, I get the vast PLEASURE of being changed by the love and intelligence of my fellow community members, friends and colleagues.  WOW!  New traits: engaged humility and curious fellowship.

Please post comments and share your insights.

Next Blog:

Where The Rubber Hits the Road in Transformation, or Why TRAITS Matter.

Love,

~ss

Living Questions #1: Intimacy

Living Questions Part 1:

Somatic Sensing and The Real Conditions Of Intimacy

Think of yourself as an experiential scientist.  You are the researcher.  Your life and your experience is the laboratory.  The dance is the experiment.

In this laboratory called LIVING, what you can see, sense, feel, test out and replicate for yourself is proof, it is the evidence, the verification, of what works.  It reveals an experiential (or phenomonological) condition of reality.  It reveals the true conditions through which consciousness arises.  So, If it is true for the body & heart… it is probably TRUE.  If we can embrace this in mindfullness, we can actually start to live non-dually – in body and spirit, in transcendence and immanence, AT THE SAME TIME.

Here’s a collection of questions about INTIMACY that I use when teaching Movement Genius, Dancing Freedom, Contact Improv and Partner Yoga.  They are sourced from a lifetime of work in embodied leadership & practice, and from my coaching & healing practice.  The basic premise:  What is true somatically is true holographically.  We can test things out for ourselves through real experiences and integrate what we learn on a CORE LEVEL through somatic awareness and mindfullness.

If we can feel and know it through the body, we can learn how to apply it to life.  If some way of being is out of alignment with the body or heart’s well being, it is probably out of harmony with the universe, as well.

When I do this work, I create an agreement field that we are all on a level playing field in terms of our basic equipment.  In other words, in a class filled with able-bodied people, we are all equipped with with two legs, two arms, a spine, the same sensory organs.  We all have the capacity to move, the capacity to respond and the capacity to react.  Most of us are dealing with hidden bumps, bruises or pain – either physical or emotional.   We are all mammals; we are all people.  We are all Spirits in bodies.  We all have hidden vulnerabilites, and part of compassion is to allow presence for this.

We are all the same; and, each of us is an-other alive, creative & entirely unique self.

The only RULE is YOU CAN NOT DO IT WRONG.

For the first half of class, I ask you to focus primarily on the direct body-based experience, to dive into the minutia of our sensations.  It is important to slow down and build the depth of feeling and sensing (direct perception) before asking questions that take us emotionally and imaginally beyond the our immediate awareness.  Once the field of somatic sensing is awake, the the bridge between immediate somatic insights and the capacity to mindfully apply them to your life is totally open!

~ • ~

Questions:

Photo by Sean Stutchen ~ Epic Eden Hot Springs Retreat

• How are you listening to your partner?
• How are you listening to yourself?
• How are you meeting your self and this person in a new, fresh way?
• What do you know about them right now just by how they breathe and how they hold their body?
• Can you relax into connection to invite a deeper connection and trust from them?
• How are you bringing luminous awareness and presence to your actions?
• Where are withholding your awareness and presence?
• How are you attending to your body, to your own needs, boundaries and desires?
• Are you willing to articulate boundaries and needs?  Can you do this with an open heart?
• Are you moving from INTEGRITY?  Do you compromise basic needs for the sake of “the other” or in order to “get it right”?
• Are you willing to feel all the sensations that are present?
• Where is the sense of pleasure in your body?  Be specific.  Go more deeply into it.  Breathe and move from there.
• Where do you feel deadness, dullness, pain or stiffness in your body.  Be specific.  Are you willing be present with this and to move and breathe into this place?
• Are you willing to be vulnerable?
• Are you willing to NOT KNOW?
• What new possibilities arise when you stay present and curious with not knowing?
• How do you experience your CENTER in partnership?
• What are the motives behind your actions?
– Are you trying to please your partner or the instructor?
– Are you trying to prove yourself?
– Are you trying to “do it right?”
– Are you trying to control the situation?
• CURIOSITY.  How can curiosity support you to innovate, open and thrive?
• How is power showing up for you in this exercise?  What are you learning about cooperation, feedback, balance, listening, trust & levity in relationship to power?
• Can you give and receive at the same time?
• What does “giving” mean for you?
• What does receiving mean for you?
• The way you are experiencing this exercise is a reflection of how you experience relationship in every other aspect of your life.  What do you notice?
• Is competition showing up for you in this situation? How does competition support your success & excellence?  And, how might it undermine collaboration and compassionate leadership?
• Are you willing to trust your partner?  Can you trust yourself?  What do you get when you CHOOSE this trust?  What happens when you don’t trust?
• What is the difference between supple and rigid strength?  Can you cultivate one while releasing the other?
• Are you more comfortable leading or following?  Can you balance following withleading?  What does this mean to you and your work?
• Can you balance effort with relaxation?
• Where is the “sweet spot” for you in the balance between striving and surrender?
• Do you feel more safe, present or empowered when you are giving or when you are receiving?
• What does this tell you about the ways in which you lead and build relationships?

• How do you want to apply the simple lessons you have learned from your body and your experience of your partner in this exercise to your life and your work?

• How can experiences like this support you to work and play more from your heart rather than your head (your ideas & goals about projected outcomes) or your will (the desire to maintain control over the outcome)?

• What qualities do you notice are most supportive of collaboration, shared leadership and ease?

• What did you learn about your own impulse patterns, motivations and commitments?

• Where were your growing edges?  Do you want to commit to any particular mindfulness practices as a result of your experience today?

….Well, that’s maybe enough for a lifetime.

Next post: Questions on PURPOSE.

Love,

~s.s.