The Invitation

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It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what
you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s
longing.

It doesn’t interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will
risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure
of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to
know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have
been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain! I want to know if you can sit with pain,
mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can
dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your
fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic,
to remember the limitations of being human.

It doesn’t interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want
to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you
can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul; If
you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it’s not pretty, every
day, and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still
stand on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full
moon, “Yes!”

It doesn’t interest me to know where you live or how much money you
have. I want to know if you can get up, after a night of grief and
despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want
to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not
shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I
want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls
away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like
the company you keep in the empty moments.

———————
The Invitation
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Dark into Light (The David Deida Workshop – part 6)

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I gathered with all the men for the morning exercise.  We started with a run around the ballroom, and there was something inexplicably cool about watching all of us run in silence, while completely relaxed and focused. Next we lined up face to face, adjusted each other's posture, then tried to break his concentration by sensing his weakness and throwing it back at him.  Finally, we locked arms like wrestlers, pushing against each other in full force, without losing eye contact.  Completely invigorating.

The instructors pointed out that as men, we love having something to push against, a challenge. And if we're fully engaged with it, we feel completely alive.  It's when we avoid it, numb out, walk away – that's when we die. It was great to have such a visceral reminder that the challenges I have in my life are for my own benefit (side note: I was watching VH1's "Celebrities Gone Good." Stories of philanthropic stars. It was so boring!  It made me realize that purely good news, or pure comfort, is not what we're built for. We're built for the challenge, the mission, the growth, the transformation).

The "Sex" Exercise (this is finally the promised "Sex without Touching" though honestly, I think the whole event could be summed up with that phrase).

We covered Love in part 5.  Now the exercise would be "polarity" – The charge between the masculine and feminine sexual energies. Again, I went with my paradox of choice principle and chose the first person I saw.  She was a psychic healer I had spoken with earlier.  These exercises feel much easier when you have never even spoken to the person.  That we had a previously established rapport suddenly made me feel embarrassed for what was to come.

We began again with breathing while staring into the other's eyes, a foot away. After awhile David asked the women to rate how present we were on a scale from 0 to 10 (5 being the presence of a good friend, 10 being the most present man they've ever encountered).  At the count of three he asked the women to say a number.  "8" she said (Yes!).  When it was my turn I just didn't feel her that closely.  Her eyes were there, but she wasn't with me. So I said, "4."  And I felt awful when I saw her face turn to shock and disappointment.  We then did a few exercises to tune up our presence.

What happened next…  Granted, we never even touched each other, but David then had us say the most provocative sexual statements one can pronounce, and then the other person would assess whether or not they believed the emotion was real. Here I was, less than a foot in front of a woman I wasn't even feeling attracted to, and yet saying the most intimate things one can say.   Again…intense. But all preparation for our real relationships, when we're in that place where romance is fading, but we still want to keep the spark. It became clear to me just how much choice we have about the love and sexuality we create.

The final feedback
Lining up against all the walls, shoulder to shoulder, the women stood in front of the men, and were asked, "what would you need this man to change so that you could be with him?"  My first partner was a cute, meek south pacific islander who looked transfixed as she said, "Whoa, you're really good at this. I'm intimidated." I tried to soften up to help her relax, and strangely enough, my once giggling persona was nowhere to be found. The next woman was super sensitive and began to tear up as she said, "You have such a big heart.  But I feel that you won't let yourself be angry with me, and I need to trust that you can."  I had to do the same for each of them, and it was amazing how this amplified all my senses. I could see the best in people.  I could feel love and attraction to women I would never even consider. And for the ones I could? It felt like I could marry them right there.

The Final Exercise: Dark Energy

I had a very interesting dinner with people who have been to several Deida events. Apparently this one was tame compared to the others.  Wow.  Back to the Inn for the final exercise…David warned us that this may get a little dark.

We did our usual line-ups. This time rather than picking the first person I saw, I picked the last one….  It wasn't intentional. Earlier I had several great conversations with a woman with a similar background to mine and after dinner we agreed to find each other for the final exercise.  I looked all over for her to no avail, and finally had to sit down like a game of musical chairs.

The lights turned dim, and we closed our eyes. We each reached out, one palm up and one down, and then took turns leading a back and forth hand motion, as if we were having a conversation, simply with our hands. We then took an emotion, like how I would want to be as a father and then expressed that, only through my hands. My memories get murky from here on out, so I may be terribly misquoting, but you'll get the idea…

We then took on stronger and stronger emotions.  David instructed the women to throw everything they had at the man, as if they were fighting him. The voices got louder as the women became more and more expressive.  But it was soft music compared to the next part… David asked the men to show the women that they're willing to kill anything that invades their home, and the animal roars from 150 men were deafening.  Finally we did both at the same time, and the intensity hit an 11.  It was like using up all your remaining energy on the final home stretch of a race.  

And then calm, then silence.

We turned around so as not to face our partner, and I never saw her again, let alone even remember what she looked like. David advised us that it's better this way – unless you have a lifelong partner. I believe him when he said these exercises are too powerful to do it any other way. I saw the woman I tried to find earlier and apparently I had looked right through her in my search, though she was quite thankful that we both went through it with someone we didn't know. 

There was a party that evening, sure to be filled with great conversations and undertones of God knows what. But I was half in a state of Zen and half pure exhaustion, so I headed back to my hotel to get a few hours of sleep before my flight straight to work.  I had no idea how exhausted I really was, as I would find out later.

Next:   Final Chapter: The Epilogue.

Love, with No Pre-Conditions (The David Deida Workshop – part 5)

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The most important tool in self-help is not only free, it's a pre-req for living. Our breath is the most underutilized tool we have. Its rhythm shapes our moment to moment experience (and really, what else is there?).

The Power of Breathing
The breath is so powerful it can literally alter our reality.  When psychologists like Stanislav Graf could no longer use LSD on their patients to access deeper realms of existence, they developed holotropic breathing and re-birthing. Both are forms of horizontal hyper-ventilation that create so much oxygen in the blood stream, that one can actually stop breathing and simply be, in a dream like state.  That is, if you can get past the first five minutes of feeling like you're about to die (I've done it five times and it never gets easier).

———–
Ultimate Problem Solver:
If you get nothing else from this post, keep this in your back pocket :

If you are ever in a situation where you don't know what to do, slow down your breath and focus on it. You will have your answer is less than 2 minutes.
———–

The breath would be our main tool through the exercises. We learned the technique by first breathing into our lower belly, then our solar plexus (core), and then high into our shoulders (and then exhaling all that in reverse). Add a slight pelvic tilt to each breath and it feels like pure presence and power.

The Love Exercise
We sat men on one side, women on the other, and each man tapped the one in front of him in a game like telephone, reminding each other –  "Breath deep."  David stood on stage and gave us a warning before the exercise…. "Now we're about to go really deep. Do NOT go talk to this person after your exercise. if someone comes up to you and says, '(in sleazeball  voice) Hey, I felt we had a really deep connection.' – then you tell them to f-  off.  Of course  you felt a deep connection, that was the whole point –   People, do not turn this into a pick-up game. This is far too powerful for that."

To say we were excited would be an understatement.  What could be this powerful???   Half the men and women were instructed to stand up and go to find a partner.  He said, "Choose the person you think would give you a hard time."

Now, I have a rule for choosing in situations like this, or any situation for that matter.  It's based on the Paradox of Choice.  You see, the more choice we have, the less happy we are.  More choices means painful decisions, followed by second guessing, and finally regret.  I have found that whether it's for a partner exercise or deciding what to order at a restaurant, the first one I see is always the best.

I sat down in front of the first woman I saw and jokingly said, "I thought you'd give me a hard time, so here I am."  She had a cold look on her face as she said, "You have no idea what you're in for."   Part of me felt like I was about to be killed, but I grinned because I love a good challenge.

We sat right in front of each other, knees practically touching. We closed our eyes, went into deep breath, and then opened to the two eyes staring right at us.  My first reaction?  I had to use all my energy to stop me from laughing.  I must have looked like my face was going to explode because every part of me was giggling inside, probably due to a combination of nervousness and excitement.  But since the whole room of 300 people was dead silent, I did my best not to ruin the moment.

"Men, start to mirror her breathing," David said.  "As you get in sync with her, take her slightly deeper with each breath.  If you mirror her, then lead her, you can actually breath her body."

I could feel our breath getting deeper, and my insides started to light up, but not in what might be considered a "good" way.  More like the scene in Star Wars where R2D2 is lit up because he's getting electrocuted.  I grounded the energy, and as I looked at her, she seemed to be saying, "You are not strong enough for me. I will destroy you. You are like every other man out there who has hurt me, and I will no longer stand for this."

Now, when you're less than a foot from someone's face, breathing as deep as possible, in a staring contest that's not ending… this isn't so much an "intellectual" exercise.  I'm a trained Reiki practitioner, and when I work on someone who has a lot going on, I feel this tingling work its way up my arms.  It's not a good feeling. It feels like it could knock me out.  In Reiki I have ways of diffusing the energy.  But here all I have is my breath, and my entire body was radiating like I was about to have a panic attack.

Mind you, we're almost a half hour in by this point.

Then I feel the shift in her.  Her eyes soften. Her whole body softens.  My heart slows down.  While we said nothing, I could see this renewed faith in men and love in her eyes.  David had us each say phrases of love, and he was right. I was barely attracted to this woman and yet the I could feel the full emotions of wanting to spend the rest of my life with this woman.

I realized how many times I've been in a relationship where I turn away, where I go unconscious, where I check out physically, emotionally, spiritually.  For me this was like a military-grade bootcamp in energetically staying present with a woman, for as long as she needs it.

We bowed in gratitude, closed our eyes, and I turned to face the front. As we left for the break, I was on a high – the kind of peaceful high where nothing in the world could have bothered me.

Again, I could have left at this point and felt I got my money's worth. But that was just the "love" exercise.  Little did I know, we still had the "sex" exercise, the lover's feedback, and… the dark energy.

The Difference Between Men and Women (The David Deida Workshop – part 4)

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On the morning of Day 2 all the men were separated from the women.  We learned how to breathe very deeply, and after two hours of that we were in a completely different state by the afternoon.   One woman commented that as we walked back into the room she went from feeling afraid of the men the night before, to feeling like she could ask any one of us for anything she needed.  It was that big of a shift.

Men are presence.
This is what a woman wants more than anything. A man who is completely there with him.  She will follow a present man to the ends of the earth, and chop his balls off when he goes unconscious.  That's all well and good, but there's a flip side to this that women do not like.  You see, presence comes from nothingness.  It is only nothingness that can hold that full presence. 

But most women do not understand a man's attraction to nothingness. Why? Because women think a man has a woman's brain.  She thinks when he's upset that what he really wants is to talk and to be held.    Hardly!  He wants space.  He wants nothingness.   When he comes home from work and just sits in front of the television, that is his nothingness.  Women try to fight it… they make him engage, they make him talk about his day.  David said to forget that.  He said, you want your man to engage, put dinner in front of him and go down on him as you massage his legs.  Then he will do anything you want… It's true.

Women are light.
A woman's essence is light.  It's this divine grace that attracts a man. It's this light that opens him up to God. And it's this light that powers him to live his purpose…  A man who is fully present realizes that a commitment to a woman is actually freedom, because he is free to live his true purpose when he has a woman supporting him.  Now that's all well and good , but the flip side is that with the divine light comes completely inexplicable behavior. 

Men believe that women have a man's mind, so they think she says what she means, and will not change her mind.  But in reality her mind changes like the weather, and fighting it is like getting angry at the sky for the thunderstorm.  In fact, David says a woman's complaints are not really complaints at all.  They're foreplay.  Yes.  She is riling up her man, testing him, seeing how strong he is, with a huge desire for him to pass the test and take her.   David said, do not try to rationalize with her, it won't work.  Her complaint isn't even relevant to what she's saying. She's really testing her man, and the superior man is not only unfazed, but turned on.

It all comes down to baseball
Women's views on relationships are the same as men's views on baseball.  If you have a favorite team, you like to see them win. But if the game is 20 to 0, it's just not a good game.  Yes, your team won, but it's not a good game.  If it's tie score, bottom of the 9th, and a 3-2 pitch, then it's a very interesting game.   This is how women are with relationships.  They don't want the easy win. They WANT the risk of losing it all.   

I didn't think this could be real until David said, "Have you read a romance novel?  You have a woman who married a man who goes off to war, and she thinks he's dead and marries his best friend, but then her husband comes back ten years later and she doesn't know what to do because her first love is back, but now her son is with his best friend…. Now all the men here are thinking – what a nightmare! And all the women are on the edges of their seat."

Love vs. Sex vs. Romance
Love is pure acceptance.  It's absolutely required for your relationship, but you can have love with anyone (love for your parents, kids, etc). 

Sex is what David calls "polarity" – the poles of masculine and feminine.  But it's not just physical sex, it's intercourse an all levels.  It's intellectual intercourse, emotional intercourse, spiritual intercourse – all of these have a masculine and feminine and they are at play in a relationship.  If either is lacking, then the polarity is dead and the relationship goes down hill.  David actually believes that women are evolving faster than men, and since the masculine is not catching up, women have to be their own men when they don't find one.  He said that's why women will take on the masculine but then have their boy-toy boyfriends (e.g. Angelina and Brad).

Romance… romance is the big MacGuffin.   It comes and it goes.  In other words, it's unnecessary.  That sudden rush of excitement, that fluttering heart – it fades.  Yes, it's nice.  But it's not necessary for a great relationship the way love and polarity are must-haves.  (e.g. this is why arranged marriages work).  This one was hard for me to swallow. 

I've always been convinced there is "the one." But now I'm not so sure.  And once we started the exercises between men and women, I saw first hand how it's completely possible to love anyone.  How it's possible to even feel a sexual attraction to anyone.   It was such an intense feeling that my whole body was going into shock.

Stay tuned for details in the next chapter (and we will finally get to the "Sex without Touching)

The Source of All Pain (The David Deida Workshop – Part 2)

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In just a few days, I had bought my ticket, booked my flight, found a roommate and a ride to the event.  I was in the perfect state of mind, which I define as having very low expectations while simultaneously holding very high hopes (this creates the most open space possible… think about it).

As 300 of us sat patiently in the ballroom of the beautiful Rancho Bernardo Inn, David came on stage and simply looked out at all of us for 30 seconds before he spoke (by the way, if you ever speak in public, this is a wonderful tactic.  It centers you, gets you in alignment with the energy of your audience, while increasing the curiosity and attention of the crowd).

He began with a history of consciousness that led to a profound conclusion – consciousness moves from time into space.  For example, as humans we can look at a yard stick and see that it is three feet long.  But an ant, who has limited spatial consciousness cannot.  The ant can walk across the yard stick, and thus experience it as 15 minutes long.  It experiences that dimension in time.  Make sense?  So for humans, emotions are currently experienced in time.  We say, "I was angry for fifteen minutes."  But as we become more conscious, we will experience anger in space.  Some of us have already done it, as we realize that we store our emotions in our body (tight shoulders anyone?).

Our own emotions exist in space, and have a huge impact on everyone around us. You've probably already noticed that if you're in a bad mood, or stressed out, you can easily stress out the people around you.  And if you're truly happy (as opposed to simply excited), then you can lift the people around you.  This became painfully clear as David had us do an exercise (you can try this right now)…

Imagine yourself in the most beautiful room you can fathom (I chose a huge open living room, with a wall of windows and french doors opening up to a long pool with cabanas around it).  Then imagine the partner of your dreams comes into the room, sits and curls up next to you and kisses you.  Feel that for a moment.  Now here's the punch line…  Whenever we are in a state in which we feel less than this relaxed, we are actually causing suffering to everyone around us.

It suddenly hit me how much suffering I had caused.  It made such an impact I could have gone home at that moment with a realization that was worth the full tuition.  But we had not even hit 5 mph yet.

Next:  Sex without Touching

The Superior Man (The David Deida Workshop – Part 1)

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If you're a man, and you haven't read Way of the Superior Man, pick it up immediately.  It will either save your current relationship or your next one. (If you're a woman, do not tell a man to read it.  Simply leave it around somewhere for him to check out on his own).  I first read the book about 4 years ago.

The book is about the tragic loss of masculinity within our culture, and the triumphant rise of men who dare to claim it back.  If I can share one story, it would be a simple parable of a man coming home on the day he won his million dollar contract.  He's so happy and overjoyed, but when he gets home, his woman smiles briefly and quickly asks, "Did you remember to bring the milk?"…  So how does the man react?

The man is severely disappointed.  He just accomplished a major goal, and all his woman can think of is the milk (which he did forget).  Now I could identify with this man.  How could this woman be so insensitive?  I would have felt thoroughly deflated in this situation…  Little did I know, I was identifying with the weaker man.    

David re-tells the story, only this time the man hears the question and instead picks her up his arms, kisses her and says, "Baby, I'll buy you all the milk you could ever want!"  And she melts in his arms.   What's the major difference here?  In the second story, the man is unperturbed.  He doesn't need her validation.  He's so secure in who he is and his own purpose, that any question or complaint from his woman can't shake his resolve.   Wow. I had totally missed the boat.

Cut to 4 years later, and I'm sitting in a room with the superior man himself, and 300 men and women, in the hills of San Diego.  Each person clearly committed to their own growth, to their partner, or their future partner.

Next… Part II – The Source of All Pain