Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


Sunny September Sunday

Whew! What a busy few days. I feel really tired and energized at the same time. Mentally I'm zooming a little but I feel the physical intensity of the past few days. AM and I are watching Jools Holland, which we DVR, Toots and the Maytals played as did Jet, from Australia. We had the leftover pumpkin curry for dinner along with some flat crackers toasted with tomatoes, olive tapenade and some red onions. It was a nice, simple meal and we talked a lot while getting things together.

Today my class ended up running a little late, but no one really seems to mind and the class was a lot of fun. Two students from last year returned after a long break bringing two friends with them. One person completely new to yoga, one who remembered taking Kundalini yoga classes many years ago. Another returning student from this summer, R who gave me such a compliment a few weeks ago when I was having a very difficult, vulnerable day. And CK, something that brings me a great pleasure; I feel a rush of warm emotions when I see her on her mat.

The energy was very good, lots of questions, and I was just enjoying it so much I was surprised to find we were still doing standing posed and it was at the end of class time! I didn't feel too bad since class had got to a late start. R had asked for plank and side plank, which was great since I was really looking forward to teaching going up into adhomukha svanasana from plank pose. This was one of the things from teacher training that I really wanted to try with my class. I was pleased to see how much better each person's pose looked, even the brand new person!

CK and I rode back to her place afterward and were able to continue our conversation from a little better place. The yoga practice burning off some of the energy and grounding us both. It was easier although still deep and touching places that hurt. We had more soup and just hung out talking to each other. Occasionally taking breaks and talking on other topics, but still keeping connected.

We lay down together, just touching and talking. CK brought up an idea she had, that perhaps we investigate adding Tantra to our shared practices, to our relationship. It ties very closely to our Hatha yoga and Zen practices and might be useful in discovering how to feel safe in intimacy together. As she told me this I'd been laying there thinking that maybe before we go to bed we should actually sit together, meditate.

I mentioned this and she asked if we could touch. When she said that I was struck with the idea of sharing a cushion so we could sit with our backs completely touching. We tried this, each perched on one side of a flat, bed pillow. We slowly let ourselves lean into each other and sat for a few moments. It was wonderful feeling the warm length of her against the whole of my back, knowing the sensation of her breath as well as my own.

It isn't exactly a path through the rocky shoals of intimacy that shows up in anything we've read, but it is something I think valuable to explore. I recall one book suggesting an exercise to sit with you hand on your partner's heart, but the arm would quickly grow tired and it seemed a little awkward even though I like being able to lie next to CK with my hand on her heart.

There was something so deeply connected feeling in sitting with my back to her, and that was just a in the few moments of trying out the idea of sharing a cushion. I feel like it could be deeply intimate sitting for many minutes that way, in zazen. Our backs touching and sharing the movement of breath while our minds did the work of settling into the silence.

We lay stretched out on the bed after zazen together. Outside there was a block party with live music. It was a warm, sunny early September afternoon and we found ourselves enjoying each other while a jazz guitar and female vocalist came in through the open windows. CK noted, as we were lying there enjoying the day and the music that it felt natural to be together.

Sitting with my back to hers for those moments, feeling her so deeply, helped to ground me in how strong of a relationship we're building. That helped the feelings of desperation and hopelessness subside. When those things settle it lets the tension around intimacy subside.

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