Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Secret of Vulnerability

Some thoughts on vulnerability & intimacy... which have surfaced in the last few days:
Do you know that feeling of when you first try to shift the tone of your relationship with someone? Like when I first started talking to my parents about my yoga practice - it required me to have a tone of voice and an emotional quality that I was not used to having in their company. Now, it is natural and comfortable to share that space with them... but that first move is always risky. Yoga has been a guide for me in this way, because it is so important to me that I feel compelled to honor it - with my tone, my language, and the quality of my presence. This sense of importance and sacredness helps me find the courage to take the risk, and share this vibration of myself with others.

Yoga has opened my heart to a different way of being - a way of being intimate and honest and present. At first, in the early years of my practice, this felt like a VERY private space - and I was very protective of it. Almost like nudity. On occassion, a teacher would ask our class to do a partner pose - helping one another in a pose - and this was the first time that I was called upon to actively maintain this heart quality in the company and contact of others. It was easier with some of my classmates and quite difficult with others. I also found working in a large office to be a fine opportunity to apply the principles and qualities of yoga... with all the various personalities. In the last 5 years or so, my experience teaching yoga has been an especially good guide in learning to share this space with others.

Recently a study was released, in which three situations were created:
1) two strangers were introduced, and told that they both liked a certain person
2) two strangers were introduced, and told that they both disliked a certain person
3) two strangers were introduced, and given no guidance on what to talk about

Who felt the closest bond? Those who liked the same person reported some new sense of kinship compared to those given nothing to go on, but those who shared a dislike for someone particular felt the strongest bond of the three groups. "The common enemy" theory.

We all know that pain and tragedy create bonds. Here in Santa Cruz, when the big earthquake of 1989 happened, our community felt a strong sense of cohesion and connection. In early phases of a romantic relationship, partners will often share their various stories of pain and suffering as a way to build intimacy and connection. I recently overheard two people doing just this, while on a date together.

I realize, in retrospect, that I have in the past connected these phenomena of pain and connection - unintentionally and unconsciously. When I felt a lack of connection, I created painful situations in a desperate attempt to build bonds again. But when I overheard that couple, I realized that sometime in the last few years, I had gradually left that approach behind.

The painful situations do create bonds, because they are real and they help us bring to light the true priorities of our hearts. But now I see that there is a way to build the bonds of intimacy, to enter the space of vulnerability and honesty that is based in the joy of life - not just the pain of life. Even the joy of the pain of life. If that makes sense. The connection is the joy. So, I am exploring this now - creating clear and honest spaces of intimacy that are based in love and courage.

This month, in my yoga classes, I have been discussing the theme of "sukha" or "joy." I selected this theme, because I was feeling a need for more joy in my practice. Sometime last week, as I was practicing, and thinking on this idea of joy, a new "mantra" occured to me: "Freedom & Fearlessness." With each breath I repeat this silently - "Freedom and Fearlessness." These are the qualities I aspire to in my practice and in my life.

Freedom in the body, in the joints. Freedom in my heart, freedom from the weight of the ego. Fearless from the fear of humiliation, failure, appearances, projections, masks, expectations. Freedom to be in the moment, fearless of what it might bring.


Blogger Ashes77 said...

a lot of times I have to sit here scrolling thru blogs about how many people in the USA hate mexicans and want to burn them and stuff and it just makes me hate them. It is tough having to endure that kind of crap all day and really makes me weak to constantly be battling it, but thanks for this thoughtful post. it really made me think.

12:13 AM  
Blogger CEC73 said...

Amy, I really enjoy reading your blog, you always bring insights that inspire me and I always learn something. Thank you, Carey :-)

8:15 AM  
Blogger springsandwells said...

Hi Ashes,
Nice to hear from you. I know what you mean about the "constant battle" and how it makes us feel weakened. I guess that's one reason that I am so grateful for my yoga practice, because it helps to re-fortify me. But still, I wonder if there's another perspective on those battles, and on that weakness?

8:16 AM  
Blogger springsandwells said...

Hi Carey,
Your comment appeared as I was responding to Ashes... how fun.

Thanks for the nice words. Here you can see a few of my own springtime photos!


8:18 AM  
Blogger geoffrey said...

i can't tell you what good timing it was to read that. i spent the night wrestling with tigers in my dreams... a good combination of fear and ambition and career. anywhooo, thanks!

1:25 PM  
Blogger springsandwells said...

Hi Geoff,
Good to hear that my musings hit the spot after a long time of tiger-wrestling.
:) A.

3:36 PM  
Blogger mikaela d. said...

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8:38 AM  
Blogger mikaela d. said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:38 AM  
Blogger Mikaela said...

What a beautiful entry. Really, I love it and plan to reread it. Thank you for sharing!

PS: That first photo is gorgeous and just perfect for this post.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Neva Vegan said...

I just found your journal and I love this entry and the images with it.

There's a lot here for me to think about. I'm in a spot where I'm trying to change and heal and move forward and get better, so inspiration like this is really valuable.

9:31 AM  

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