Saturday, October 4, 2014

Inside the mandala of lover and beloved

We all have ways of engaging with and even catalyzing drama in our interpersonal relationships. If we look carefully, we may discover the reason for this, in large part, is that the drama is serving a distractive or avoidant function – helping us to stay out of very vulnerable states of being. While it may appear that we are moving toward intimacy, we can in fact be moving away. While it may appear we are staying close to our embodied vulnerability, we are in fact ensuring we never have to get too close. Given our early histories, this is very natural and need not be judged or shamed, but can be held and explored with a penetrating sort of compassion.

If we will slow down, be willing to befriend ourselves at the deepest levels, and open our hearts to the entirety of what we are, we may come to discover the ways that drama (through the creation and maintenance of the very compelling narratives about our lives, our futures, our hopes, our fears, our dreams, our fantasies) serves to protect us from the fiery alchemical crucible that is intimacy. It is so open, unknown, groundless, and without reference point inside the mandala of love, we very naturally spin to cut into that much nakedness, that much unbearable luminosity and creativity.

Inside the very core of this vessel there is an invitation waiting for each of us: to reclaim, with kindness, every feeling and bodily sensation we've previously disavowed; and every lonely, abandoned part of ourselves that we (often very intelligently as little ones in our families or origin) orphaned and split off from. This can be very frightening territory, as it is sure to trigger very early survival-level panic and anxiety. Nonetheless, we can't help it – we're wired for love. Here we go...

We will never, ever be able to be more intimate with another than we are with ourselves. As long as we are placing the burden on our beloveds to metabolize our unlived lives for us, we will always be keeping safe distance from them. Again, it can appear we are moving closer, while we are actually moving away; staying safe while believing we are taking the risk that purifying love will always require. It can easily look like we're being vulnerable and staying embodied on the outside, while in actuality we are unconsciously working behind the scenes to ensure we just... don't... get... too... close.

As we begin to discover the very subtle (and not so subtle) ways we are re-enacting old strategies of distancing and protection (including through engagement with spiritual belief, jargon, and practice), it is important we do not shame ourselves or conclude that we have failed or are some cosmic mistake which needs fixing. Everything is okay, exactly as it is. The path is everywhere. Stay close. Rest. Lay your hands on your heart. Infuse your entire being with loving kindness. Everything... is... okay. You are okay, exactly as you are... right here. Right now.

These old, adaptive ways of perceiving and being are lodged into our neural nets, grooved into our miracle brains and nervous systems, and are only asking now for the light of our care, our holding, and our attention. They are not obstacles or enemies, but allies; not pathology, but path. In any radiant now moment, we can return our sacred attention into present, embodied experience with kindness, with clarity, and with loving and penetrating awareness. It is here where the beloved, in all of her forms, in all of his disguises, is always resting and awaiting our compassionate, spacious embrace.

It is natural to want to "let go" of the drama, to give everything to know the mysteries of the heart, and to set aside the ways we have come to protect ourselves from the pure creative destruction and re-wiring that pure love is, but it is an act of kindness to honor first how they're serving to protect us from stepping all the way inside the inner chamber of the mandala of the beloved. And the implications of what it truly means to allow the beloved into our lives, hearts, and bodies. And to be clear that is where we'd like to journey and live from. From this aspiration we can go slowly, being kind to ourselves and our lovers, in all their forms and appearances, as we walk the path of intimacy-yoga. For it will demand so much from us – and even more than that.

In some ways this journey offers nothing, not in the ways we might have thought. But in that nothing we come to behold the mystery of everything.

Painting of lover and beloved, under the Valentine Tree, by my friend Alice Mason