At some point towards the end of last year I decided to dedicate 2012 to being the best lover I’ve ever been. Because the idea thrills me. Because for me love is a practice and pleasure. Its my core passion. In the last few weeks, I’ve been paying keen attention to my physical and emotional sensations to get a clearer sense of what I really want in this endeavour.
In November I was interviewed for Imago People TV by The Barefoot Doctor. He asked me what new things I’d been exploring. I said that in 2011 I had learnt to appreciate contentment in relationship. I’ve never naturally been drawn to the placidness of contentment. But in exploring it, I had come to appreciate its gifts.
I’d contrast contentment with the sweetness-‘n-sharpness that relationship can offer. I’ve always been naturally drawn to the poignant sensations – both sweet and sharp – of tasting another human being.
Contentment is soft and safe, but in large doses I find it a little dull.
This year, I want to experience more sweetness and less sharpness in love. I know that some would say that the two are inseparable, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think that sharpness starts to dissolve in the light of self refinement.
My yoga practice is my template for love practice. The aim in yoga is to move beyond being pulled about by the duality of pleasant/painful, good/bad, positive/ negative experience, into an awareness characterised by non-dual bliss. Bliss – ananda in Sanskrit – is not the same as happiness. Happiness has an opposite – unhappiness.
Confusing bliss (ananda) with happiness (sukha) has led to one of the biggest fallacies in the contemporary world of self development. When Joseph Campbell said, ‘Follow your bliss,’ he was referring to ananda. He had come across the word when studying the Upanishads – esoteric Sanskrit texts on the nature of being and existence. When most people repeat, “Follow you bliss,” they mean something along the lines of, “Follow what you think will make you happy.”
Following bliss is not the same thing. Its an endeavour in changing your state of consciousness. Its a yoking (yoga) of attention to self in a subtle and often searing manner.
For the purposes of this discussion, ananda is perhaps best described as a state of fullness, radiance and self-sufficiency. Yogic meditation practice aims to induce that state of awareness. But the next step is where it gets interesting. The next step is about bringing the qualities of ananda into the sensory (and sensual) experience of daily life. Its about bringing those qualities into the arena of duality. This is rarely understood or taught in the context of yoga or meditation, which are seen as ways of withdrawing from the stresses of the sensory world in order to grab some peace before returning to daily life.
Duality of pain and pleasure, happiness and sadness reside with poignant clarity in the space of romantic relationship. I’ve found that something interesting happens when I introduce the qualities of fullness, radiance and self sufficiency into that space. The sharpness of painful sensations soften, and the sweetness of pleasure heightens. I don’t understand it, but I like it. And I look forward to experiencing more of it. And perhaps beginning to understand it.
This year I want less searing and more subtlety, less sharpness and more sweetness. Lets see if I get it.
A clip of my interview with The Barefoot Doctor is here. We discuss romance Discussing romance for Imago People TV