Questions About Vulnerability

Vulnerability is not a weakness, a passing indisposition, or something we can arrange to do without. Vulnerability is not a choice, vulnerability is the underlying, ever present and abiding under-current of our natural state. To run from vulnerability is to run from the essence of our nature. The attempt to be invulnerable is the vain attempt to become something we are not and most especially to close off our understanding of the grief of others. More seriously, in refusing our vulnerability we refuse to ask for the help needed at every turn of our existence and immobilize the essential, tidal, and conversational foundations of our identity.

To have a temporary, isolated sense of power over all events and circumstances is a lovely, illusory privilege and perhaps the prime beautifully constructed conceit of being human, and most especially of being a youthful human. But it is a privilege that must be surrendered with the same youth, with ill health, with accident, with the loss of loved ones who do not share our untouchable powers; powers eventually and most emphatically given up as we approach our last breath.

The only choice we have as we mature is how we inhabit our vulnerability, how we become larger and more courageous and more compassionate. Through our intimacy with disappearance, our choose is to inhabit vulnerability as generous citizens of loss, robustly and fully, or conversely, as misers and complainers, reluctant and fearful, always at the gates of existence, but never bravely and completely attempting to enter, never wanting to risk ourselves, never walking fully through the door.

Copyright 2015 David Whyte. ‘Vulnerability’ from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment, and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words

I’ve been thinking about vulnerability some lately. And if there is a difference between being vulnerable and being naked.

I named this site The Naked Mystic because I wanted to hold nothing back. I wanted to be emotionally, spiritually (and sometimes physically- ha!) naked with myself and whoever chooses to stop by and read.

I have been wondering lately if that is the same as being vulnerable.

I tend to think in black-and-white, so these kinds of thoughts occur to me:

‘Naked’ is showing you my boobs; ‘vulnerable’ is sharing how sacred, pleasant, and difficult they are to me (or how much I worry about breast cancer).

‘Naked’ is talking about dance; ‘vulnerable’ is telling you how dance is like church for me.

‘Naked’ is telling you which sensual practices I prefer; ‘vulnerable’ is telling you how sensuality has changed my heart.

‘Naked’ is answering any question you ask; ‘vulnerable’ is telling the whole truth while I do it.

But then I think of past relationships where there was no difference between naked and vulnerable (physically or otherwise). Or the friendships I have today where I am both, simultaneously- and there really isn’t a difference between the two.

close up of a woman's blue eye, as symbol of being vulnerable

 

Is ‘naked’ easier than ‘vulnerable?’
Is ‘naked’ superficial?
I know it takes practice to be vulnerable, but can anyone just ‘go naked?’
I don’t know.

One thing I have figured out lately is how much I miss vulnerability when a relationship is over. A handful of people have left my life (or I theirs) abruptly, and what I pine for – even years later – is the vulnerability. The places where once I show you the holes in my soul, you show me yours. And we are gentle to each other around them. We offer bandaids or patience or terrible songs to sing in the dark; we support each other. Past the attraction, past the shared perspectives, that is what I miss from connections long gone.

David Whyte’s quote has been a bit of companion and guide to me as I’ve begun to think about these things. I would like to inhabit my vulnerability more. I think that may mean something slightly different here. Not sure what, though.

I will keep thinking on it, feeling into it. Because this is living life fully and well.

Please feel free to share your thoughts with me- add your comments, perspectives, and experiences below.

 

 

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I Will Not Be Praying At The Temple This Summer

Music is pretty much everything to me.

My joy.
My dance.
My muse.
My guide.

I love every bit of her.
Every facet of her.
Pretty much every type of her.

(There is no music I will not listen to for at least 15 minutes. My tattoo guy likes that loud noise/scream stuff and I remain…curious. I won’t play it in my car, but even listening a little is a way to be penetrated more deeply by Music. And that is a joy for me).

A few years ago I started going to concerts again.

It had been a few years (read: more than a decade) – the house, kids, etc had taken up time for such things. (See also: sleep deprivation.)

But I started going again because I wanted to feel the joy, the elation, the beat, the dance.
The sexy pulse of the crowd, focused on one thing.

sexy guitar

 

Concerts are akin to a high mass for me.

The priests offer their sermon, their blessing, their symbols, and absolution.
I dance and sing and pray in reply.
We are all singing the same hymn sometimes.
It is a sacred orgy of mantra and bass and freedom.

Do not talk to me about the concert while it is happening.
That is like talking over the sermon.
We don’t do that.
We open ourselves to the message and get swept away into the heart of joy.

[You can talk to me afterwards, on the way home. When we are both half-yelling because our ear drums are so thoroughly, wonderfully violated.]

Also, please show your respect by having a good time.
[New Englanders…they sit at concerts. I do not understand this!]

In any case, because I love Music so much, I try to go to the temple a couple of times a year.
Different venues, different talent, but always a good time.
My soul gets washed and dried and satisfied.

So, it pains me greatly to tell you that I will not be going this summer.
Imagine Dragons plays locally tonight, and I will not be there.
The amazing Dave Grohl (we can call him a ‘god,’ right?) and Foo Fighters will also be playing around here. And I will not be there.
Even my beloved U2 will be in Boston. And I will not be there. (Although, if you’d like to go- let me know. I will drive. <– That was an open invitation for you to buy me a ticket and spend the evening having a great time with moi.)

I will try to atone myself in the Fall.
Bless me, Music, for I wish to sin with you as much as I can.

(Edited To Add: Ask and it shall be given: a friend is going with me to see U2 at their last date in Boston. /happydance)

 

 

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Feeding the Quiet :: Making Love With Life

[Often I want to start a post with how I got to where I am- the background. This usually involves referring to my Sex Surge and how it came about. And often that involves mentioning the man I was attracted to.

I don’t want to embarrass or shame the guy anymore (which I did, carelessly, several times). So, until I figure out how to write some things without mentioning him, the content around here might change a bit. I’ll figure it out- don’t worry. There’s too much change and beauty not to share!]

This past week I spent several days at a yoga retreat center in western Massachusetts. It is one of my favorite places on Earth.

I go there for rest and renewal.
I go alone.
I don’t do anything but what I feel like.
This time it was sleeping, reading, and journalling.

The retreat center does everything- cook, clean, provide bedding and shower stuff; I only have to show up. And only show up as much as I want to. I can be completely anonymous and alone if I wish.

This time, that aloneness felt wonderful. It was a respite from all the noise and hubbub of my usual life.

 

HazyMorningKripalu

Hazy morning view from the top bunk.

 

I didn’t realize it until the last day, but I spent my time there feeding the quiet places in myself.

The places that need no words.
Just quiet.
Sunshine.
Rain.
Watching the wind dance the storm clouds.
The breeze across my bare skin.
Laying on the grass beneath the willow tree.
The lake.
The everyblueandgreenalive of the Berkshire hills.
The taste of real lemonade.
Silent breakfasts.
Strong tea.
Hearing the birds and busy chipmunks as I awaken.
The sound of thunder (but no lightning).

 

KripaluWillow

My secret room in the willow branches.

 

Those wordless places are the bone white of my sensuality.

Mostly I am brash and loud and colorful in my sensuality. Vibrant and liquid. But there are places that are quiet. Simple. Plain. Also deep, aware, and patient. Waiting with the tides of my days and my life.

These deep, quiet places within myself need love, attention, and expression, too.

I retreat every year as an act of love for myself.
I love myself by making space to listen, to reconnect, and to heal.

This retreat at Kripalu was one of the quietest, most sensual times of my life. It nourished me in places I did not know were hungry. It was the most beautiful lovemaking Life and I have done in a while.

UnicornTree

I don’t know what kind of tree this is (they call it ‘The Unicorn Tree’ – no points for guessing why), but I have only seen one other- in Bellingham, WA. I love this tree; it has so many wonderful little rooms for hiding and writing and daydreaming.

 

JoannaHappyKripalu

End result: happy Joanna.

 

 

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Summer Mix Tape

Oh, they will always be mix tapes to me.

So, I didn’t post a Spring Mix because my Spring mix was a mess. As was I.
The music reflected me perfectly.

And maybe I’m scared to share that.
Which is silly, but there you go.

Anyway…I may link to it later, so check back!

Here’s what’s brining me into my Summer blossoming:

Elastic Heart | Sia

I wish I had thick skin and an elastic heart. Sia does.
And I love the unintelligible way she sometimes sings.

 

Invincible | Kelly Clarkson

‘Now I am invincible. No, I ain’t a scared little girl no more.’
[I still am, but this is for the days when I feel huge and gorgeous and utterly full of myself- or need to.]

 

I Wanna Dance With Somebody | Whitney Houston

Because about 3 songs on the radio are sampling this fun, catchy throwback.
It sounds ridiculously old in melody, but the fact that Whitney is actually singing (no AutoTune, no crazy vocals or techno backgrounds) makes it awesome.

 

Trust You | Rob Thomas

“And when I say, ‘I know, I really gotta go…’ but then, I trust you.”

I love the power flip of a man trusting a woman and getting into trouble.
Oh, some people trusted me too soon. But, I was worth it.
I can be fun. And the best kind of evil. 

 

Hey Mama | David Guetta (ft. Nicki Minaj & Afrojack)

“I like the dirty rhythm you play.”

 

close up of a wild rose in full bloom

 

Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You) | Enrique Iglesias (ft. Ludacris)

“If I never lied then, baby, you’d be the truth…”

This song just makes every part of my body rock.
Come over here. Let’s dance.

 

OctaHate | Ryn Weaver

So many metaphors in this song, about desire blowing you wide open.

Shot through the cracks of the earthquake/
My body’s movin’ into retrograde/
I’m feelin’ lose, feelin’ untamed/
And you’re the dynamite in my chains.

 

Hold Back the River | James Bay

‘Hold back the river let me look in your eyes…’

Connection is so worth the effort.

 

I’ll Stand by You | Pretenders

If I had a song for my clients, this would be the one.

When the night falls on you/
You don’t know what to do/
Nothing you confess/
Could make me love you less…

…When you’re standing at the crossroads/
You don’t know what path to choose/
Let me come along/
‘Cause even if you’re wrong

I’ll stand by you.

 

Renegades | X Ambassadors

Because “All hail the underdogs/
All hail the new kids/
All hail the outlaws/
Spielbergs and Kubricks

It’s our time to make a move/
It’s our time to make amends/
It’s our time to break the rules/
Let’s begin…

Yes, let’s begin.

 

You can find this mix over on www.8Tracks.com.
Enjoy, sweet ones!

 

 

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The Three Modern Truths

There are the 8 Limbs of Yoga (the path to enlightenment), the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha (which contain the Eightfold Path), and the Ten Commandments (there are a variety here).

[Why the even numbers? Chinese philosophy is my best guess.]

The more I read and reflect, the more I think there are some modern truths worth recognizing.

These truths are messy. But so is our modern life.

They also underly most of the other ‘truths’ shown above. Without recognizing these modern truths, it is hard to enact the wisdom of the other paths.

Perhaps these truths are self-evident (which ‘truth’ should be, I suppose). But I think they need saying. They are worth articulating so that we can apply them in our daily life.

And so, I give you:  The Three Modern Truths.

 

Modern Truth One: Everyone Is Fucked Up.

There is almost no way to grow up in modern, Western society and not get fucked in the head somehow. You’re going to have low self-esteem, fear issues, lack of love and care, perfectionism, addiction, abuse, etc. No one gets out completely psychologically intact.

This does not mean we are all bad. I believe we are all inherently good; we are all trying to be happy. Yes, even the most fucked up among us are doing things to make themselves happy. We are all reaching for our own goodness, even in majorly fucked up ways.

This means we are all equal because we are all fucked up in some way.

 

Practical Application in Daily Life: Compassion

We can be kind to each other because we are all living in our own fuckeditude and we know how hard it is. Compassion can start here.

When we think, ‘dear lord, that is/they are fucked up!’ we can remember that we, too, are effed in some way. If I remember that I am not perfect, it is easier for me to have compassion for your imperfections. And compassion can get us such a long way on the road of life.

And isn’t it grand that The Something made it so we’re all screwed up in different ways? At least then we can help each other heal.

[Where, might you ask, can people have a healthy psyche into adulthood? Probably nowhere. But I think Eastern philosophies (Buddhist, Taoist) with their focus on people’s inherent goodness – Buddha nature – have a better chance of psychological health through the lifespan. And, actually, I would include Pagan philosophies here, too.]

 

three mussels laying on a table lined up towards the horizon

Modern Truth Two: We Are All Trying Our Best

Really. We are all trying our best, at any given moment.

Sometimes our best looks like total shit.
Even to us.
Two minutes after we’ve done the thing.

[My wisdom about my choices rushes in so quickly after I’ve done something stupid.]

Maybe the psychopaths and the sociopaths aren’t doing their best.
Except, they are- they’re trying to be happy, too. In a very socially unacceptable way.
But still.

Look at your life everyday- you’re mostly doing your best, right?
Maybe not for that one gal in Marketing who bugs the crap out of you…but mostly.

Well, we all are. And it would be helpful to remember that.

 

Practical Application in Daily Life: Patience

When we realize that we’re all trying our best, and that some people’s best is just…not that great, we can be open to more patience.

There have certainly been times when I have not been so great (even though I thought I was), and many, many people were patient with me. I bet you can think of times like this in your life, too. 

There have also been plenty of times when I was not patient, and should have been. (I am fucked up, too.) I knew people were just trying to do their best, and I should have been patient.

 

Modern Truth Three: Life is Complex

I know…this could easily be filed under ‘no shit!’

But we forget.

Or, at least, I forget.

I try very hard to make things easy for myself. Often this leads me into black-and-white thinking (that there are only two options or ways or paths). I forget that there are complexities and nuances in all areas and options in life.

I know that I stayed in a conservative religious path because it made life easier. The rules worked and my life was fairly simple. (Until that didn’t work anymore.)

But life is really complex. There are so many choices, so many questions, so many options. Sixteen brands of peanut butter at the grocery store and that is my least complex problem.

Modern life has a lot of details. And it can drive us crazy to deal with them all.

 

Practical Application in Daily Life: Acceptance

Accepting that life is complex is a big step in learning to deal with it. Accepting anything is a big step in learning to deal with it.

When we fight against anything- complexity, fear, sadness, anger, even joy and support- we are not dealing with what is. When we take a breath and say, ‘yeah, this is happening,’ or ‘this is how I’m feeling,’ we stop the fight.

And when we stop the fight, we create space for acceptance, awareness, and choice. Our acceptance of what is will move us forward, even in the face of complexity.

 

There is so much more I want to say about these things- especially about boundaries with compassion and patience. (We must have enough compassion for ourselves to see when something is too complex, fractured, or unhealthy for us- and walk away.)

If we can remember these three truths, I like to think the world will be a more compassionate, patient, accepting, and healed place. We are here to heal and to help others heal. As Ram Dass wrote: we are all just walking each other home. I think remembering these truths helps us walk each other home a little better.

 

 

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