Saturday, September 21, 2013

The burning, alive reality of intimacy yoga

In my experience, intimate relationship functions as a crucible within which your core vulnerabilities will be sure to come on display in the most vibrant (and often excruciating) ways and, if it is really what you want, provides a vehicle for the most radical sort of healing. The reality, it seems, is that transformation does not always feel safe, awakening does not always feel good, and there is nothing like the beloved, in all her various forms, to show you exactly those parts of yourself that you have abandoned.

There is an idea in our culture that intimacy means the experience of a certain kind of closeness at all times – consistent feelings of flow, connection, harmony, and comfort – a secure ground from which you can move about, a way to settle in and rest a bit, a respite from challenging life circumstances. Of course these qualities are all part of intimate relationship. But what happens when these things are not present? Where has the relationship gone? Is it still there? What is “a relationship” anyway? Is there another one available nearby that you can try out? What about your feelings of dependency? Those aren’t very spiritual, are they? What about your needs? What about the waves of disturbance and irritation that so often surge in the field of lovers?

You are sure to experience profoundly contradictory feelings in the context of intimate relationship; just one glance from the “other” can release an avalanche of feelings and emotions, some that you never knew were inside you. Without saying or doing anything, really, just by being in your life, your partners and other intimate friends will naturally push up against your vulnerabilities, your hopes, your fears, your dreams, and everything that to this point has been less than fully metabolized within you. In relationship, everything comes roaring forward, looking for light, seeking awareness, in search of attention, showering you with invitations to come closer. In this way, intimacy has a way of catalyzing a certain kind of sacred claustrophobia, where you can no longer hide out, duck around the corner, or fantasize that you’ve somehow come to some fundamental resolution or resting place with life. You start to see that engaging in intimacy as a yoga will not in fact support your fantasy of a life of invulnerability. It is made clear that you don’t really get a life without disturbance if you want to wake up, and there’s nothing like intimacy to bring this realization home. When you allow the “other” into your world, you will never be the same.

In contemporary culture, intimacy is one of the most profound vehicles you have, in my opinion, for waking up, for growth, and for healing – but should you choose to approach it in this way, you must allow yourself to be re-wired, to allow love to disassemble you and put you back together in a new way. You must be willing to get very tantric with it all, really naked; you must come to see neurosis and disturbance as path, and not as something which must be discarded or transcended or even transformed. You must see that intimacy was never designed to make you feel good, to feel better, to feel less anxious, or to help you wrap things up in a tidy safe package. Nor was it designed to provide you with some eternal resting place which is free from disturbance, conflict, vulnerability, or the unyielding realities of the heart. Rather, it has come into your life to show you the creativity of the unknown, to introduce you to all that you are, and to invite you into the totality of being.

As the fruits of love pour into your life, you may come to see that even disturbance, uncertainty, vulnerability, confusion, and the scary places within, that even these energies are the path itself, special forms of grace sent into your life as the movement of the beloved itself, come to take you home. The path of intimacy yoga requires everything and offers everything, and unfolds to the degree that you can practice kindness to yourself, seeing how counter-instinctual the awakening process really is and, more than anything, to trust in your own direct, embodied experience.

Be kind to yourself and your lovers, for what is happening is not what it seems.