Last Monday, instead of writing a Weekly Wisdom, I spent the day in workshop with Bill O'Hanlon, who's been mentoring and inspiring therapists and writers for some 30 years and who's published some 30 books.He's a model of fearlessness for me – a man who decides to do something, then does it – apparently without a lot of the angst I typically experience between thinking and doing.
I jumped at the chance to drive him back to the airport. The trip offered a lovely time to catch up with Bill - and was itself a meander.I quickly missed a turn, and we wandered a bit before reorienting.After a quick hug goodbye, I was back in the car headed home when I discovered a gold star sitting on the passenger seat where he'd been seated.I assumed he left it there for me, as an encouragement.(He had given a couple people stars during the workshop.) Or it could have fallen out of his pocket, left there by a loving universe.Either way, it was a blessing.
The next morning dawned gorgeously.After my usual run on the trail by the river, I decided to do some QiGong on the river-stone beach by water's edge, where I sometimes do ceremony with the Thursday night group. The stones and I were soaking in the sunshine, as I moved my hands in an exercise called "The Movement of Yin and Yang".For several minutes during that movement, I felt a phantom watch on my left wrist, where I no longer wear a watch.
"What's this?" I wondered.
"It's time," came an answer. Time, I realized, to let go of old containment, of living small – much smaller than I am.
A couple days ago, Joanie and I closed on a new house – one more spacious than my "bachelor" home (now grounded, by the way), which we'd been sharing since she sold her place a couple-three months ago.I've had a jitter or two about the move, which somehow is eased by today's soreness after our first marathon day of emptying one house into another.
All this makes me think of lobsters.
It must be very frightening for lobsters to shed their old shells, when they've outgrown them.There's that nakedness between shells, when they're totally vulnerable.And yet, when it's time, the discomfort of living in a shell too small outweighs the danger of growing into the unknown.
The energy system in my house is out of balance.If I turn on a hair dryer in the upstairs bathroom, the lights in the room surge brighter.When I switch on a hair dryer in the downstairs bathroom, lights dim.
This out of balance condition affects the electrical flow throughout the house.The microwave groans at half speed, the toaster (now a "warmer") barely heats up, the washing machine balks completely.Fortunately, the computer still works.Thus, this message.
Three visits from the power company and a local electrician leave the mystery unresolved.I am, however, getting an education.Apparently, there are two, 120-volt hot wires coming into the house (each energizing half the house) and one neutral wire that grounds the circuits and balances energy flow.The best guess: a problem with grounding.
Without proper grounding, there's no flow of energy, no balance.Nothing works right.I think my house is trying to tell me something.
It's difficult to do a retreat on intimacy without paying at least some attention to the topic of sexuality.In our conversation on Saturday, we defined sex as an energy of connection, something much bigger, and perhaps more ambiguous, than any particular activity.Sexuality involves lots of activities, of course, as well as elements that are less tangible.We discussed Five S's of healthy sexuality – and it was a bit of stretch to make them all S's.
Caution:Please don't turn these S's into one more list of things you have to do to be successful at sex.Let this be a gentle guide.Sometimes you'll experience some of these things, sometimes none of them, occasionally all of them.
Safety.Safety is fundamental.It means being at peace with ourselves and our bodies – how they look and how they function.It invites us to let go of those impossible models of perfection we can bludgeon ourselves with.It means listening to ourselves, accepting ourselves, trusting ourselves.And, of course, trusting the other and our relationship with him/her.For example, commitment between partners helps a lot here.
Sensuality.Taking time to savor the experience - with all our senses alive to various tastes, touches, aromas, sounds and sights.No hurry, no destination, staying present to pleasure, stretching our capacity for enjoyment.For example, we can experiment with the most delicate of touches or experience the deep comfort of a melting hug.
Seeing and Being Seen.Here we allude to the quality of connection between partners – an openness to knowing and being known, to learning about each other, staying curious, approaching each other with fresh eyes, open to surprise and new discovery.Friendship is the best and most enduring aphrodisiac.Eyes-open sex is one example of this kind of connection.
Silliness.A light-heartedness with each other, a playful spirit of adventure, an easy humor sometimes expressed in tender, gentle smiles and sometimes with rolling, laughing, heaving bellies.Sometimes, humor is triggered by the inevitable clumsiness and imperfection we feel at times.Playfulness can't be commanded.It comes upon us naturally, following its own rhythms, often in response to the first three S's.No need to search for it.Just make room for it.It will find you.
Sacred.Here we have the sense that something's happening that's much bigger than the people involved.The union of two humans can lead to a larger sense of union and transcendence. It can lead us to God. Eastern traditions, with teachings about Tantra, emphasize the spiritual nature of sexuality.What if loving acts between humans contributes to an expanding universe of LOVE?What if we make LOVE when we make love?
When I think about it, human sexuality is a grand and goofy gift – a weird and wonderful part of a vibrant, abundant relational economy.It's so unique for each person and each relationship.We are invited to accept and appreciate its uniqueness, and our own – even as it leads us to oneness.