Do you have the discipline to be free?
This is a paraphrased version of a question Gabrielle Roth (the creator of 5 Rhythms) asked once upon a time.
As I apply this question to the world of love and relationships one bitch of a truth arises-- in order to be free in the dance of intimacy, we need discipline to be present to our vulnerability.
Without the capacity to be present to vulnerability we get stuck. Stuck in roles... stuck in strategies… stuck in hiding… stuck in drama… stuck in inauthenticity... stuck in settling for less... stuck in isolation. Stuck. That doesn’t sound like freedom to me.
Avoiding vulnerability is totally understandable, utterly human and so worthy of compassion. I’m certainly not above going there often. And yet, sadly, that move does nothing to bring us any closer to our freedom.
Wouldn’t you love to be free to ask for that thing you really really want from your partner in bed? Wouldn’t you love to be free to ask that gorgeous creature out on a date? Wouldn’t you love to be free to let go of that relationship that isn’t really serving your highest good? I know I would.
There are so many intimate and juicy realties that remain inaccessible to us when we indulge our attachment to avoiding vulnerability.
It takes discipline to stay present to our fears and vulnerability. Generally, as a culture we haven’t been taught how to embrace vulnerability. War machines exist as taxing monuments to that painful truth. Sigh.
It takes discipline to learn how to get good at anything new. It takes solid measurements of time, practice and conscious focused intention to get skillful at anything-- being present to vulnerability included. As a culture we have a steep learning curve. Men incepted with outdated gender conforming boxes are deprived of quality modeling of vulnerability. It’s a ballsy act of revolution to commit oneself to learning how to be present to one’s vulnerability.
So how’s this for a revolutionary practice?:
Pause. Take a few breaths. Settle into your own skin and let your attention turn towards your heart and body. Notice what you are feeling; sensations and emotions. Exercise your mindfulness muscles and suspend the impulse to judgment where you are at and what you are feeling. Take your time.
When you are ready... think of something in your love life that stirs up some fear. Go for a 3 to 5 on a 10 scale of vulnerable situations. Nothing that brings up terror please. Some examples are: Stating a boundary to a loved one. Expressing a desire that you’re not quite sure how it’s going to be received. These are examples of vulnerability stirring situations. Depending on your history any one of these could invoke terror or nonchalance. Keep it just a couple steps outside of your comfort zone.
Now notice what you notice. Try practicing being non-judgmentally curious about the sensations and emotions that come up for you when you think about this vulnerable situation. Notice the churn in your belly... the constriction in your throat ...the holding of your breath. No need to make up a story about it. Just notice. I know. It’s not easy. That’s why we practice.
The longer you can stay present to the sensations and feelings linked to your vulnerability the less dominated you will be by fear. Notice the shift in sensations, feelings and perspectives as you bring your curiosity, openness and acceptance to the embodied experience of your vulnerable self. Breath. Be. Love yourself through it.
The more you can get skilled at being present to difficult vulnerable feelings with lower stakes challenges, the easier it will be to lean into historically more charged situations. The more you can be present, the less reactive you will be. The less reactive and the more present, the more creative and free you can feel.
If you can look at that painfully attractive being across the room and be present to yourself, the more freedom you will grant yourself to approach that sexy being. The greater capacity you have at staying inside your own skin as you approach and talk to that person, the more free you will feel to own your desire to connect with them.
It takes discipline to be free. What do you want to be more devoted to? Your fear or your freedom? The choice is yours every waking moment of every day.