Strangling the Man Within

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Strangling the Man Within

As young boys we are taught to be strong. We are conditioned to not cry, show weakness or reveal any kind of fear. Image after image floods our minds with what it means to “be a man”. This cultural and societal training is suffocating for so many of us regardless of the spectrum sexual or masculine identity we possess at such a young age. 

This is a wheel of conditioning and constructing that has been turning, and continues to turn, that we most often don’t see or recognize it happening to us and around us. Oftentimes we don’t even have an inkling of what is happening because we have never seen or have been exposed to anything or anyone like ourselves due to the strangling of sensitivity by a cultural preference to hyper masculinity. 

Upon reflection, I had no idea what I was even doing to myself or others in the name of this conditioning. In all of this heartwork I have been doing I am unraveling the pain and hurt caused by the conflict of my sensitivity in a time of being a man. As a boy I had such a difficult time squaring my sensitivity in a world that couldn’t understand them. And for a little boy,this hurt deeply. 

Being so developmentally young I was raw within the conflict and having to live in these surroundings. This conflict then comes out in only the ways conflict can. Rage, fear, hurt, pain, anger and heartache forces you into lockdown so as not to reveal who one is but to in fact hide our true nature in addition to all of the pain simply to keep one safe. 

This safety is in fact a prison. We imprison ourselves to close off in order to survive or hide our sensitive energies. With our limited understanding we close out the world by desensitizing ourselves in the hopes of our own survival. We do so because it is all we know to find some kind of peace within all of this conflict. 

Yet, we all know this is the furthest thing from peace. We struggle to belong. I struggled deeply to belong. I did my best to survive by living around the edges so as to keep my sensitivity in check, often never understanding why I was always on the outside looking “in”. Mind you, I was somehow able to do so with love in my heart which is what I attribute to why I had so many friends and why I was so liked. All of this despite my conflict. 

One memory I have of a moment of hurt was with my dad that constantly reminds me of where I was and what I was feeling within. This was early in my teenage years before I was able to drive. My dad picked me up from a gathering of friends and something had happened during that gathering that deeply hurt me. 

As we were on the way home I was doing my best to hold back my tears and reveal my pain. Clearly I was not fully capable of hiding my sensitivity on all occasions. Who is? And so my weeping, my tears fell into the lap of silence. 

Moments like this were difficult for my dad. His conditioning did not train him how to engage with a young man who is not like what is expected or what he expected of a son. To his credit he was able to dialogue with me and try to figure out what was bothering me. It was very bold of him to try and I was appreciative of this. 

During the ride, as we were getting closer to home, he said something that has stuck with me my entire life. He said “you just have to learn how not to wear your heart on your sleeve”. Translated it says that in order to be happy you must not let yourself show vulnerability or weakness by being sensitive. 

And just like that, one retreats. We remove the heart from our sleeves and throw them out the car window in order to keep ourselves safe in hopes of success. Not sure how successful we can be as men if we are no longer living with a heart that we have thrown away. 

So we do our best to carry on with our sensitivity locked away and our hearts abandoned on the side of the road. I wonder how many hearts are lying in disarray on all the highways we travel daily? How many young boys and men have abandoned our hearts simply to belong to something that isn’t even in line with who we are? 

Is it a wonder why we live in conflict, create conflict and perpetuate conflict? Is it a wonder why we are incapable of long lasting relationships that we so desperately desire and want? Despite our sensitivity we have not learned that it is safe to move about the world without hiding ourselves from it.  

It is possible to return to the side of the road and retrieve one’s heart. I have done it. In order to do the heartwork for our spiritual salvation we must return to the side of the road where we have left it. Go back, stop the car and get out to pick it back up. Put it back on your sleeve and let it begin to beat deeply and find its way and your way home. 

Know this, you are a boy, a teen, a young man and a man regardless of where you fall in the “masculinity” and sensitivity spectrum. Regardless of your affiliation, identity or sexuality; you are a man. And this man can be sensitive. This man can be loving. This man can be vulnerable. This man can simply be the man that they are. You can be the man you are. And it is your heart that will tell you so. 

Let that man speak again. Let that man feel again. 

Sitting to Listen

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I have recently become aware of what my superpower is. In a Marvel Universe full of all the incredible beings saving everything in existence, I realize that in my marvelous reality I have none of the “powers” one would hope yet I possess the softest power of them all. After all of this time I am able to absorb, accept and be aware that my superpower is simply the ability to listen. 

I have been recognizing and becoming more aware of this quiet skill for some time now. It has taken a concerted effort to peel away the desire of our culture and society as a way of finally hearing the images, recognizing the omens and allowing for space to see my own truth. It has become clear to me that the notion of being a dancer, educator, choreographer, healer, singer and creative content provider are just simple reflections of what is actually within. 

Yes, I listen to what a dance needs when I am facilitating its creation so as to let it become what it needs and express what it needs to be. Yes, I hear with my eyes while looking at a sea of bodies in the studio while teaching so as to support the development and nurturing of bodies to become the vessel of the voices within. 

While healing, my hands become my ears as the body underneath them whispers what it needs and what is necessary to set free the energy to course correct and find harmony. The body’s ability to know what it needs and to be able to communicate this is crucial to its greatest health and well-being. 

I have been learning to sit in the company of others while emptying my mind of clutter and my heart of desire so that I might offer that space as a way of understanding and becoming keenly aware of what one’s heart needs. Similarly, I keep my heart open to hear who my dogs are and to allow them to share with me in their own ways what makes them safe, loved and appreciated. 

In my walking I have learned to hear what the earth has to say by letting her speak through my feet. With the mysteries of time she holds deeply within, each footfall unfolds it’s secrets and it’s heartache. Simultaneously, nature that surrounds me on these adventures also beckons to be heard so as to share its knowledge and magic as well. 

I have worked towards sitting in silence to open up my own heart so I can more deeply understand the darkness within and learn to untangle, unravel and “rewrite” a life lost in the quest to become an adult. Ironically I knew as a young boy I wanted to be an “idea guy”, someone who shared ideas and created things for companies. I didn’t have the words then or the awareness to realize at the time that I enjoyed listening and creating and doing so gave me so much joy. I instinctively knew my superpower but had no idea what that meant inside a world of noise full of the nonsense that strangles our hearts. 

So I have returned to being that child and to understand that what I knew deep within came from just being who I was and “naively” being true to what spoke to my heart and evoked joy. I strive to sit and listen in silence now so as to catch a whisper of the Divine as a way of recognizing the divine within. As I empty, I begin to glimpse the relationship of I AM. 

So what is your superpower? What is it that allows you to be the greatest you and an incredible contributor to a better life, a radiant love and a healer of this earth? Go ahead, I’m listening. 

The Magnitude of Being

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I am overwhelmed by this acceptance of being. Truly humbled by the magnitude of being in all honesty. The deeper I go into this journey of the heart I am reminded of the incredible richness of simply being on this journey of living. There are times when I can’t believe I have been given these gifts. 

Although my entire life has been a unique journey of discovering who I am at my deepest levels, there has always been a sense of childlike knowing that supported all of my actions and choices. To be honest, I have always felt I was looked after and cared for by outside forces that I never quite knew how to speak of. And yet now, at another transformative moment in my life, I feel very much cradled by an energy so magnificent that it often brings me to tears. 

Yes, I get so moved by the energy and love that I simply can’t believe that I am on this adventure of becoming again and again. Just when I think I don’t know the way or that answers are eluding me, I get wrapped in love and reminded that I am a child of an ever loving universe and it’s desire for my well-being. 

The pandemic was a catalyst for great change and heart work. I chose to go deep within rather than to reinvent myself in the wake of chaos. It was a conscious choice to heal and to let go of whatever I no longer needed or served me. It was a choice to not pretend that all was right in the world but rather embrace the moment as a time to return to many of the things I lost along the way of chasing; racing for a dream of the ego rather than the resonating truth of my being. 

Over the last three years I have found a new relationship with myself that is allowing the space for perhaps the greatest shift I will make for myself. How I have perceived myself and my work is now being re-examined and re-evaluated. This return to being is being felt on many levels and within all of my work both personally and professionally. 

Reuniting with dreams lost, a heart broken and a flame dwindling; now is the time to reignite the light within and retell the story. Rebuild the dream and rekindle the light that led me so far and to so many wonderful places. 

It’s funny because at so many times and experiences I found out how naïve I was and yet realize now that this perception was wrong all along. I knew where my heart was, what my hands could do and what instinctively drove my creativity. And although I didn’t know the world, the universe knew me. Letting the world change me and quiet the heart and dampen the dream was the shame and guilt from simply living and creating from the heart. 

And so now that there is a shift back to the heart and the work of love, I am witness to the shedding of so much pain, hurt and fear. I am witness to the letting go and lightening of these burdens that have been strangling the heart and the voice. It’s time to sing once again the sweet victories of being and to celebrate once again the magnitude of being. It’s time to be the light and energy that is truly what lives within. It’s a time of pivot and a time to be free. 

A Little Space to Listen

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If I could share my secrets with you, I would do so. Yet these secrets I understand are not mine to tell. These whispers are there for all of us; every being that shares this earth. As a matter of fact, infinite wisdom is available to anyone and any being should they choose to quiet the mind in order to hear what the energies of the world have to say. 

What seems like magic to some is in fact truly science yet to be understood by a mind full of individual need. When there is no space in mind, there is no room for new. It’s awfully difficult to welcome change when there is no space for change to occur. 

This can often be seen in the training of the body as well. When we miss the opportunity to find space within our body, we miss the greatest chance we have to open up from within in order to truly understand how miraculous our elegant body can perform. Instead we force, manipulate and violently demand from our body what is not functionally supportive of a body in the act of healing and congruent with a body in the state of movement wellness.

The through line here is the need and craving for space, both physically and energetically, to be able to function from the voice of the heart and the breath of quietude. Both the body and the mind need space and time to quietly open us up to listen with the fullness of our being. 

Is it possible for you to press open time to slow the mind and to sit with yourself? Small moments strung together create larger moments and create greater energy. Slowly and deliberately our choices become actions that allow deeper connections and deeper listening. 

It is possible to listen even when living within the chaos. It is possible to listen even when we are within pain. It is possible to be at our lowest point and still make the decision to be, to still and to listen. These in fact difficult times are often the greatest gift we could ever be given. Perhaps we could see these moments as a map for the bridge of transformation spoken only in the ways we so stubbornly cling to in order to move us to a place where we finally let go and give ourselves over to those whispers of time. 

Welcome space and time into small moments of your life on a daily basis and the secrets you crave will be lovingly shared. This abundance is yours just as it is every living thing. 

Return To Practice

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It has been some time since my last post and i have been missing my regular check in and expression of the heart and creativity that this platform offers. I have also missed the practice of writing as well. Since school has started i have simply been pulled in too many directions.

It’s time to refocus and give myself the time and space to get back into practice and use the writing as another form of focus, energy building and meditation. I fortunately have been doing other practice work and now need to fold this back into the rituals and routines of the day.

In the new ways of sharing my research with folks it has been such a pleasure to be able to return to the Conscious Happy Hour episodes with my creative colleague and Transcendental Adventurer, Keith Bell. Our Friday night event focused on the intersection of the Metal and Earth through the lens of LU 9 and LI 11. such a wonderful sharing of breath work and movement helping us all to prepare ourselves for the full expression of the Metal element we are moving through.

I just love this work and if your interested in joining us you can find us on Facebook in a group called the Transcendental Adventures. these events are free and we would love to share our work with you.

Acceptance

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After all this time I have come to accept that being dyslexic is actually my super power. For so long I have hidden this aspect of myself and did not even know what it was or that there was a name for why I saw things, spoke the way I did or wrote the way I did. All this time I just lived with the shame and humiliation that there was something wrong with me or that I was just not intelligent enough. 

And now, I am opening myself up to simply accepting it as something that has truly been an asset and as a secret super power. Yes, my brain works differently than others but because of this I see, sense and experience the world in a way that has heightened me being an empath and healer that I am. Not to mention the creativity that I bring to making dances and building kinetic worlds. 

The other rather interesting thing that has come of coming out as dyslexic is that I have successfully built skills to work with it and through it to write and express myself better. The 30 day challenges I have given myself have helped to simply practice these skills and to build confidence in making small shifts in my courage to write. 

We know that we are able to change neural pathways and use neuroplasticity as a tool for remapping and relearning things. Because of this, folks don’t have to suffer in silence or believe themselves to be inferior or broken. It’s like many things we hide to avoid shame but in reality, if we open ourselves up, we find it possible to heal and to work through what is in fact solvable. 

What would it be like if we supported so many others on whatever journey they were on? What would it be like if we lead with acceptance and love rather than expectation and fear? Would we not all be more open and supportive? Would our lives be that much less difficult? It seems to me we all could live with a lot less trauma and a lot more acceptance. 

Why is it we as human beings feel a need to only feel safe when we are all the same? Why do we do this to one another? What is so comforting about being like everyone else and othering those that we don’t understand or fear? Don’t we in fact learn so much from our differences and grow because of them? 

I know for me there would have been a lot less mountains of healing to climb would I really have known that all of who I was/am was always good enough and embraced. If I was to say anything to my younger self it would be to not fear who I am and to live unabashedly unashamed. Live loud. Live big. And most of all, love yourself like no one could ever love you. 

Perhaps we all could find it within ourselves to encourage this in ourselves and in all of those we come into contact with. Perhaps we could practice acceptance and sometimes learn to live with what makes us uncomfortable at times. There is a lot the body can teach us when we lean into our discomfort and find out what is hiding within that. 

More and more I try to find out what is lurking in the uneasiness that needs my attention. Facing those moments and bringing them into my awareness is where the transformation happens. And trust me, there is a lot of transformation still to happen. 

I have found that admitting who I really was and facing what being dyslexic meant was a moment of great freedom and oddly great pride. Like many things in my life, I am relearning how to live with great pride and acceptance of the fullness of my being. 

A Return to Being

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I have long found great peace and connection with nature. I have long had a relationship with philosophies that hold nature and the earth in its main focus. To say I feel with the earth and its energies would be very much in line with my deepest sensitivity. 

A return to walking in the woods a few years ago was in many ways a return to myself. The self that had gotten lost in the hustle and bustle of building a career, meeting the requirements of imposed success and the notion that I had to prove my worth and talent by packing the resume and annual report. 

It has been nice resetting boundaries and reclaiming the things that had slipped away and were really important to the well balanced being I was hoping I was. A return to wellderness has been such a delight and healing thing returning to my body and my soul. Oddly, the space that COVID insisted on was in some ways supportive of this healing. 

In no way am I suggesting the pandemic was in any way positive, especially in light of all who lost their lives, livelihoods and struggled to move forward in their lives. What I am saying is that I am grateful for the choices I made for myself and my life because of the situation in which we were going through. 

When the time came that we were able to get back to a sense of normalcy in our lives it felt super important to honor the gift of being ever more present in my own. Walking, swimming, yoga and meditation has exponentially increased in my life and I am so grateful for the research and work that has come of it. That and the soulful return to the great outdoors and the return of a fellowship with nature. 

I am grateful for this moment and honored to be able to be present and share this experience with my boys as well. They do so love their walks among the trees on a daily basis. We all are able to enjoy this moment and to continue to deepen our love for one another and for this earth. 

Every Now and Then

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There are times when I slip into a silent space falling into a void of uncertainty and unknowing. My mind wonders about choices, paths and stories lost to the past. Although I am present, the open space begins to fill with questions. 

During these days I do my best to simply breathe and be ever more present without judgement or guilt. I can’t possibly know if the choices were right or wrong. I can’t see the end of the path nor rewrite stories lost. All I can do is just breathe the moment and relinquish my body to this space. 

Perhaps this is a symptom of again and something everyone experiences along the way of maturity and growth. Perhaps it is a good thing that there is this reflective time often experienced with tears. Perhaps this is the recalibration of energy and emotion to allow a moment and space for a new beginning. 

So I move through the motions of the day with conscious movement and breath in order to find my grounding and sense of anchoring during what feels like a downpour of unknowing. Sensing and listening through my feet seems to be the only way to make sense of it all. 

Sense of the insensible.

Mantra

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I see myself within the sunlight of my dreams 

I free myself of the shadows cast by the history of moonlight 

I bathe in the ecstasy of deep secrets lost

I release the vibrations of a transformed spirit 

I lean into the winds of change 

I walk forward finding myself in the ever present 

I accept all that comes and allow it in good time

I let go of expectations letting in more than ever imaginable 

I embrace my complete being while living amor fati

Really Knowing Showing Up

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We have all heard the phrase “just show up”. We understand what it conveys and we do this on many occasions whether we realize it or not. But just yesterday it really hit me and solidified its significance in a recent swim practice that I have returned to.

I was off on my day and had planned for a swim time early afternoon. After taking the dogs for a double play time with their friends and settling in to some research and reading, I could feel that sense of energy dropping and that play between making an excuse to take it easy for the day. The age old battle to keep to it or give in to not going.

After mustering the energy to go I gathered my things and dig deep to get myself in the car for a short journey to the pool. After holding true to the commitment I made I just said to myself I will go, get in and do what I can do for the day. That will be good enough and showing up for that will be success in and of itself.

And so I did.

Wonderfully the pool was pretty empty and quiet. I got in and just started swimming. I have a routine that helps me to count laps and frames my practice. I started and found myself just giving in to the breath and movements. Oddly, being because I was tired and not fully into it, I seemed to let go and release any attachment to how I was feeling and simply just swam. I got lost in movement and breath and just kept swimming.

I found myself swimming further and further than I had ever swam before and by the end of my swim I realized I was swimming for fifty minutes straight. I almost made it a mile. Which was a goal I hoped to achieve by September. Oddly, on a day I almost skipped was the day I broke through so many walls of my life. Ironic that perhaps some of our biggest achievements might be scheduled for the days when we least feel motivated, inspired or into the “work”.

it really hit me deeply that I may have on many occasions missed so many major accomplishments or break through because I have in and didn’t show up. I wondered what might could have been if all those times I have in to the numbing and hid from my own success? Realizing this it became very clear that I need to remember this next time I am feeling the need to skip something.

I didn’t stay in the woe is me mindset but did recognize that I need to remember this breakthrough lesson. It was now an inspiration for just showing up and doing my best without expectation.

processing this the output the rest of my day I wondered at so many times how this idea would work if I had shown up in all aspects of my life? Would relationships work better if we just showed up? Would all of our work be more deeply felt if we just showed up without expectation and simply with an open heart?

So how might we show up this week in many aspects of our lives? In what ways might I show up with that open heart and find myself giving in to the movements and breath and simply be present in the doing?