January 2020 did not go as planned. Around the new year I was filled with ambition – beyond the usual new year’s resolutions. I found myself excited to create, to finally build a business and begin sharing my gifts. I bought a website domain, started whiteboarding all of my ideas, and was preparing to take flight. However just before take-off the captain informed me of a delay. A perfect time to reflect on the past half a year.
Last June I moved back from Asia. I was recovering from a failed community, as my yoga and tantra school was crushed between the combination of a #me-too scandal and woefully weak and misguided leadership in the aftermath. I had not lived in the U.S. for almost a decade except a few short stays or time in my Zen monastery which is like being in no-country. In my mind, I committed myself to at least a year of being a U.S. resident, knowing that otherwise it would be too easy to return abroad at the next opportunity to teach or be in community. I was invited to participate in the creation of a meditation community in Bali and there were opportunities to teach under one of my meditation teachers in either Europe or Mexico. I considered these and other options, but in the end, something was calling me back to the United States. Unable to discern what that call was, all I can say is that it was stronger than the call to continue in the fashion I had been over the last decade.
I found myself in Boulder, renting an apartment, shopping for a car, considering employment opportunities. It all felt surreal. Although I was in my element, many of my friends were now married, had children in elementary school and in general the community had changed – the Googlers, techies and entitled SJW progressive types seemed to be much more present. At least there was a lot more disposable income around for my new business ideas!
I spent the second half of 2019 in exploration mode – I joined circling and t-group communities in Boulder, I participated in a Men’s Retreat and even had the opportunity to assist one of my teachers, David Deida in an intimacy workshop in September. I did a vision quest for my 40th birthday, I was taking online psychology courses, volunteering at yoga festivals, hosting and joining various ceremonies and events and just simply trying everything. I became very interested in a practice called Authentic Relating, a community movement focused on increasing human connection. Its a loose community, with several affiliated groups in different cities, Boulder being a major hub along with Austin and the bay area. These practices resonated strongly with me. I had noticed over the years, mainly in my intimate and family relationships that I was repeating certain patterns, that left relationships strained and I liken it to having my tongue tied and feet stuck in the mud. Through Authentic Relating I was discovering tools to own and reveal my experience, to communicate more effectively, to resolve conflict and to meet others in more intimacy, something I had been craving and seeking for a long time. I drank the Kool-Aid, joined an organization called ART International, took and repeated several of their courses, culminating in a leadership training that prepared me to begin leading these courses myself. I became involved in a non-profit organization offering this precious work to inmates in Colorado. I saw firsthand that these communication and connection skills are applicable to everyone.
Throughout this period, an attribute of mine started to come more to light that genuinely surprised me – that I do not step into leadership or really take up space when opportunities are present. Fundamentally there was a collapse inside me, a sense of not having anything to say and a belief that no one would benefit from what I had to say. I assumed that as a rather extroverted, charismatic Leo it was easy and natural for me to lead. Yet, in retrospect I see that I often relied on the container around me, the systems I was in and was never fully comfortable standing in my own power. One weekend I sat down and wrote down all of the things that I was knowledgeable at, skilled or held significant training or expertise in. Holy Shit! That’s a big list. And then the shame of keeping it all to myself set it. So it was over the new year that I decided it was time to stop holding back.
I just had to deal with one little thing before taking off – a pesky little cough that had been growing worse since October. Frustratingly, it worsened when I was speaking, not the best situation for a teacher or coach. After a couple of failed attempts with my local clinic to troubleshoot the cough with antihistamines, I was referred to a hospital for a couple of x-rays.
And here my friends is the source of the flight-delay: On the way home from the hospital the doctor calls – “Something showed up in your x-ray, we need you to come back for more tests as soon as possible”. And those tests and their results have been the center and focus of my last 3 weeks. I will continue with the details tomorrow.