Sunday, December 10, 2006
Yesterday I spent the day at the "Embodied Community Day." I know that sounds (groan) sooooo Californian.
The invitation promised: a day that is "fun, juicy, inexpensive and open to everyone who'd like to find out what’s possible when grounded, empowered, open-hearted people come together." There would be an "enliven your body playshop, where we would learn new ways to express your essence through movement, dance, yoga and touch and deepen our emotional connections. Then an Empowered Intimacy workshop led by Scott Longwell promising "new skills and new ways of being that will enable you to be connected, free, and empowered in romantic relationships, at work, and in Community." All capped off with an Intimacy Lounge of "Sultry Dance and Sacred Chilling."
I was introduced to this group a week ago when I attended one Whole Body's free David Deida video screenings. It was an interesting concept -- workshop leader Scott screened the Deida film to the group and then lead exercises from the video, or exercises that took a riff on Deida's renowned teachings on sacred intimacy and we experienced them first hand.
I have heard so much about Deida lately (maybe I'm just the last one on my block -- he's written ten bestselling books) and wandered into the seminar to learn what all the hype is about. I came away from the evening feeling a better sense of what it means to be a woman, to be fully present in my body and my femininity and how creating that presence and openness makes me significantly more attractive and available to the right kind of men.
I was impressed with this group of people. First of all, they were definitely far healther and more attractive than average -- very centered in their bodies, physical and fit. An uncommon number of them seem to be acrobats, contact improv dancers or yogis, and they exude a confident, self-assured presence.
At first the room seemed to be filled with people younger than me, but later I learned that most of the participants were in their mid-30s to late 40s and simply looked a lot younger than their actual age. The ages ranged up to a man in his 70s.
It was raining here in the Bay Area so I decided, hey, why not -- and made the long drive south to the light, airy white loft in a run down block of Oakland where Whole Body Wisdom has it's events. A girl named Jamie Love with a sparkly heart painted on her cheek greeted me, and I deposited my shoes in the heap at the door, and padded across the patchwork of thick oriental rugs and sat on a cushion in the packed room.
As I arrived, the group was concluding the playshop where they were doing acroyoga and contact improvisational dance exercises.
Then workshop leader Scott was moving into the Deida-inspired intimacy sessions.
Scott said: "Remember a time when you weren't fully empowered." He's sitting on a futon in front of the group, flanked by a thin, athletic man in his late 40s and a beautiful younger woman with waist length blonde hair who strokes his hand as he speaks and "holds space." She beams radiantly as if just being in this man's presence is energizing for her, though I have to wonder if it's just an ego trip for him to have the loveliest girl in the room practically sitting in his lap as he lectures.
Scott has a confident, self-satisfied air about him, and a big enigmatic cheshire grin. He's a big man with a powerful build and a shiny shaved head. He reminds me of a New Age Mr. Clean, here to clean up our karma and scrub our inhibitions away. He tapes our answers to that question with a small silver electronic device that beeps on and off.
"The thing that we think is ugliest about us...when we share it, it's no longer hidden, and that in turn makes us more attractive," Scott says. One woman in the room says her weakness is rescuing drug addicted men who end up living in her house and taking her money. An attractive silver-haired elderly woman says her fear is that her body will never make love again. In turn, we confess to strangers, our deepest weakness. When it is my turn, I say: "My pattern is that I get in relationships with fixer upper men -- and buy fixer upper houses." The room giggles nervously.
"A lot of us choose a relationship based on the question: "Do I feel safe?" he says. "Choosing someone weaker than us makes us feel more powerful, but it's a lie. We want to be in control so we hire someone not as smart as us." Scott, who formerly was a management consultant in the corporate world, and still exudes this confident executive power over a room, says: "It takes a lot of confidence to hire experts who are smarter than you in areas where you are weak. In love, and work, you want someone with different skills, but more powerful."
Scott then confesses to us that he was picked on as a child, and very relf-conscious as a young man because he was bigger than everyone else. In confessing this secret to us, he did become more human, more real, and in turn, more attractive. (Perhaps this is why we like to learn the relationship woes of celebrities and relish in the marital distress of stars. It makes them more human, vulnerable and thus even more attractive to us.)
Scott points out a sign on the wall: "Often others see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Our deepest gift is often underneath our biggest fear."
We then moved into an exercise where we were asked a question by a partner and then in turn, had to answer the question first as if we were coming from our head, then as if we were centered in our heart, and finally, as if we were one big genital. "Come on, answer this one as if you're one big dick or one big juicy yoni," Scott joked. The room roared with laughter as put our whole bodies into answering that question. My partner was a thin, nervous guy who seemed forever stuck in his head, and I instantly "got" how that when we respond to a sexual need with an intellectual response we're not able to communicate effectively to our partners and then just come across as wimpy and unattractive. (I found myself totally turned off by his rigid, almost robotic responses.)
Later that night, we moved into the sacred chillspace -- which by the end of the night had steamy windows and was starting to look more like a high school dance, with couples making out in the shadowy corners of the room on floor cushions. A beautiful man taught me how to do contact Salsa dance (a variation on Contact Improvisation, which is depicted in the photograph above.)
I've been opening myself and my heart more to intimate energetic connection with others, and now that I am less self conscious and defensive I'm surprisingly a much better dancer. I was able to feel my partner's energy and sense what direction he wanted to lead me. Instead of stepping all over his feet, I was flowing, utterly in the moment of what we were doing. I suddenly understood why dance is the ultimate seduction, and the best way to feel out a potential partner for compatibility. Somewhere along the line we've become too intellectual and too centered in our heads and thus unable to listen to our hearts. I guess the Whole Body Workshop was at it's core about learning how to return to this kind of playful presence when we interact with each other.
The community playground that Scott creates promises the "opportunity to be playfully serious and seriously playful, an expansion of your ability to be open, loving and powerful in the face of real world challenges." I think one could be cynical and say that's all just a bunch of West Coast new age double speak, and there were a few newcomers to the event who uncomfortably admitted they felt that way about it, but in the end, I'd say his words just about sum it up. By the end of the night, I felt more alive and present in my body than I have in a long time, and less self conscious about my inadequacies.
To learn more about Whole Body Wisdom and the Church of Soul, visit: www.wholebodywisdom.com
Thursday, September 7, 2006
Freedom of the press belongs to anyone who owns one. With the Internet, we are no longer passively watching the media, we're actively making it. We're no longer just consumers, we're producers. Unfortunately, the big telecom companies don't want us to continue this freedom free for all and have a plan to choke our access by making their "approved" sites load faster than those that are disapproved.
What Can You Do To Help Save The Internet?
* Sign the SaveTheInternet.com petition
* Call your representative today and demand that Net Neutrality be protected
* Encourage groups to please the SaveTheInternet.com Coalition
* Show your support to Internet freedom on your web site or blog. Tell your friends about this crucial issue before it's too late.
* Add SaveTheInternet.com on MySpace.com
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
I posted the previous essay in an edited form on Craigslist and got a deluge of mail from men who commented on it. This was the most astute comment I received:
I wanted to give you my feedback in response to your post. Up until
a year ago (43) I was definitely the guy you describe; infantile,
childified adult, self-absorbed, active-running thrill seeker, rode
(red) motorbikes like a madman, was looking for commitment-phobes
just like me and was also striving for more adventure than I could
Then, a funny thing happened. I met this woman of about 36
who was exactly the SAME as me. She subscribed to all of the
behaviors that I and (you) have listed and more. I took on the
passive pursuer role and she took the active running role. I got
emotionally attached and she became highly ambivalent.
Then I ran, again, because I could not stand to face my fears. But this time it
was totally different. I spent many nights pondering what happened,
consequently breaking down dramatically. I tried to make sense of it
all not really realizing that all along, the issues were deep within
me. I spent the last 3 months doing serious self-analysis and finally
understanding and reconciling my actions.
So, what is all this leading to? Basically, don't give up. I
learned first that I jumped in too deep, too fast with someone who
was also not emotionally available (a reflection of me), and
consequently, was terrified at having to face my own fears of
inadequacy, abandonment and infidelity.
You are echoing the feelings of our generation. Especially those who
have finally matured and are ready to face reality. I feel and have
felt exactly the way you do and now I am trying to just relax and
become more introspective.
I liked the line you wrote:
"The cul de sac and barbecue are finally not the big boring threats
they once were"
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
I was wearing a red shirt and a black mini skirt that night. I felt gorgeous. I felt alive. It was the way you were supposed to meet the love of your life--with 20 of my friends there as witnesses, surrounded by everyone I love, surrounded by people who should have known better than to invite us both there.
He was standing in the kitchen. And the moment we saw each other it was like, POOF instant recognition. Sparks. Lightning bolts. The kind of spontaneous combustion that happens two or three times in your life. My life at least.
Within hours we were on the couch, and I was crying in his arms. He felt like someone I knew already. Someone I could trust.
He later told me that the smell of me was intoxicating. He would dream of that smell.
And I thought: "Yes, this is the way. This is the way it's supposed to happen. In the real world where the pheremones are there, where all the senses are engaged and you can touch and taste and smell and see, where the attraction is obvious, where you're one degree of separation apart because you both know the same circle of people.
Yes, this was the real world, not an Internet Personal so it had to be better. It had to be right.
The next day he wrote me a long letter. He said he was really interested in getting to know me better, and that he was glad that I could trust him like that.
As we walked back to the car, a homeless man said: "You two are beautiful together."
And people always said that. You two are beautiful. You look like you are so in love. We seemed to be rolling on the same cloud. I guess I forgot that clouds eventually swell and burst and the rain comes.
I was thinking: Yes, this is the way it's supposed to be when you meet someone in the real world. This is the way you fall in love.
He was calling every day and every night. He was driving 200 miles round trip, twice a week, to see me.
By our second month together, he joked, if we kept seeing each other at this rate, within two weeks we would be living together.
And then, something changed. I can't put my finger on it, but reality intervened. And we finally learned the ugly shocking truth about each other:
We wanted the exactly the opposite things from life.
He was a hardworking single Dad in a house on a cul du sac with a lawn and a barbecue who was finally on the home stretch, looking at freedom ahead, plotting his escape -- early retirement and a freewheeling life of rediscovering the adolescence he never had. Parties, concerts, raves, drugs, a different woman every night...this was the light at the end of his frustrated, middle aged tunnel. Somehow he thought I was the perfect woman to explore the world and head off on this existential journey with.
I'd sown my oats and then some -- free and unencumbered, Lonely Planet book in hand, exploring any and everything I ever wanted to discover, nothing tying me down, no responsibilities but to myself. And I was sick of all this freedom -- I wanted to take care of someone. The cul de sac and barbecue were finally not the big boring threats they once were. I was a grown up and ready to take on some responsibility and drill some roots into the turf and nurture something beside my own self indulgence.
I was attracted to that hardworking dedicated single Dad and thinking, wow, I'd love to settle in and help him raise his kids, be the woman that his ex couldn't be.
We wanted not what each other was becoming, but what each other had been. Once this realization emerged, it was over. The cloud burst and it rained and rained.
But what if we had met online, on the Internet?
The big, nasty ugly questions:
- Do you want (more) children?
- Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?
- Are you looking for a casual short term fling or a life partner?
On the Internet, you didn't even see a man's profile before those questions were out of the way. You didn't even click. You didn't even stand a chance of accidental spontaneous combustion with someone whoose path was only crossing yours because you were just getting ready to do a u turn.
So here I am, a bit humbled. Wondering if, indeed, the Internet might be a better way.
Or if finding someone on the same path is indeed such a monumental task that we just have to keep bouncing back into cyberspace, keep clicking, keep hoping, keep that flicker of fearless irrational optimism alive in our hearts that makes love possible.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
I found this hysterically funny and beautifully written post today in WOMEN SEEKING MEN on Craigslist. Yes, guys, we really don't get turned on when you send us photos of your dismembered, detached, disembodied members. We're looking for a heart, not a head. But that occasional penis in my in box is at least always good for a giggle.
Why do they look like mushrooms after all?
I would like to point something out. "They" are not cute. "They" look like mushrooms, and generally speaking it's a good shape for the purpose but not to look at.
You guys must know that while you want to see us - we do not care so much what your parts looks like. We are after a feeling. The picture may be a shorthand - or a kind of "I owe you", but as such a picture of a penis is just so much human compounded by so much ego.
Yes, I like them. (You have no idea...) But isolated from the frame of a man, from the face of a man, from the voice and interests and violence of a man - it looks to me like some austere shrub - like some peculiar hothouse flower. (Native, perhaps, to the tropics).
I'm not clear on where I'm going with this. I just think you all should know. The girl thing - we want the composite, not the close-up. "It" is an accessory. Make love to me me with your brain. With your arms or your heart. Mean it. Care more. Study more. Take the time and you'll get it all back. I will wait on you. I will defend you to the world, comfort you, care for you. The whole thing. Deep clean desperate screwing?
Degraded, fine, guilt-ridden, unharnessed subservience? Yes. Yes already.
I do want it - but not the picture, the real thing - the push and pull of hope and fear, of wanting the other person to meet you half way and never being sure where that is. Give to my giving and you will be overwhelmed. That is the difference between men and women. We actually have more to give. It's because of what nature makes of us. We're always ready to be transcended.
You - your funny mushroom flower.
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
I know this is old news: Online daters have filed a lawsuit and are seeking class action status against the cyberspace love connector Match.com. The suit claims employees from the Internet matchmaking service sent out bogus romantic e-mails and even went on sham dates with subscribers as a marketing ploy.
But the new news is that yours truly, Brain Dancer, has signed on and joined this lawsuit. I got some very suspiciously perfect looking dates in my in box just as I was getting ready to cancel my membership -- and was hooked into staying in hope of giving the service "one more chance." I'll keep you posted as I learn how it's progressing.
I saw many complaints about Match.com about this issue that I referred to in a post earlier this year in Braindancing, but I had no idea it would go as far as a class action suit. It seemed like paranoia -- online daters insisting that Match was sending them phony ads to lure them into joining the service. But I have to admit, some of the guys they sent me seemed way too good to be true, and never replied to my emails.
And after paying them good money for over two years, I found Match's success record in actual dates with online personal ads significantly than the old tried and true method: meeting guys in the real world at parties or events. Match would have a much better luck at retaining customers if they solved the real problems that plague the service -- people who lie, people who post bland profiles, too much emphasis on photos and looks rather than real values, not "alternative" enough and too mainstream (out of touch with the real values of today's hip young singles), not specialized enough (there should be specialized communities, as Friendfinder has), and a system that doesn't ask questions that coax the personality out of shy people (Smart Cupid/Nerve does a much better job of drawing out presonality with provocative questions like: "What is your favorite sex scene in a movie?" or "What is the worst lie you ever told?".)
Register your Match.com Complaint
If you are Match.com member and feel you have received bogus e-mails, you may qualify for damages or remedies that may be awarded in a possible class action lawsuit. Please fill out the form below and we will have a lawyer review your Match.com complaint.
Your complaint will be sent to Arias, Ozzello & Gignac - H. Scott Leviant at Lawyers and Settlements.com.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Can I admit here the embarassing fact that during a year, 7,365 men viewed my profile on Match.com -- and yet I got only about five actual dates from it? So does that mean I'm a total babe and everyone wants to look at my photo -- or that I've been rejected by a staggering seven thousand men? (That could be every man in my age range in the entire city of San Francisco!) It might be painful, but useful, to know why they clicked on to the next. Is it because I'm unconventional and one of a kind and too gorgeous and brilliant and out of their league? Or wierd and repulsive and needy and clingy?
A feedback loop might give me insights into what I'm writing in my profile (or scary relationship ideals I'm admitting that I want) that sends these guys boomeranging back into cyberspace.
Over at Online Dating Insider, David Evans writes: "Who's Viewed Me Is Only The Beginning"
"The ability to know who has viewed your profile is a mixed blessing. On one hand, you may be exposed to people who are out of your normal search criteria. On the other, lack of people viewing your profile can be taken as a sign it's time to revise your essay and photographs. Or that you will never get another date unless you get a haircut. There is room for some sort of peer review service in there somewhere.
One one hand, I want to know who and what type of women find me appealing. On the other, I don't know anything more than that they have seen my profile and clicked on my photo. I want to know what their immediate reaction was. Mild butterflies or disgust? Were they reaching for the delete key or the Wink button?
Until dating sites provide (in a non-threatening comfortable way) greater transparency into the searcher-searchee process the majority of singles will continue to choose traditional matchmaking and social interaction over online dating sites (which are really introduction sites, as no one actually dates online.)"
A rating service (anononymously, perhaps) would really add value to online dating. I think David has a brilliant idea.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Here is are actual photos I found on Hot or Not.com, an online dating website that gives us all a chance to get rated like a cut of USDA meat.
Could these guys really seriously think they're hot, sexy guys on a scale of one to ten? Or are they just pulling my leg? (Hey, one guy pulled it so far it's amputated.)
Or is there truly someone for everyone out there in the vast online dating smorgasboard that is cyberspace?
This article was written by my friend, Tonja Weimer, a dating coach. I am reprinting it here for you. Integrity is the character that is bereft in the world of online dating. The lying, double timing, misrepresentation, and hurtfulness experienced by so many Internet ad daters is epidemic and it's poisoning the potential of the Internet to help us sift through the millions of potential stars in the universe to find our one true partner.
Why are so many people in cyberspace just looking for a quick hook up, satisfaction of only our basest, lowest-chakra instincts instead of elevating their quest to a higher love?
Why are so many married people using the Internet to cheat on their partners?
Why are so many single people stringing on a series of seductions, dangling people with the tantalizing promise of a relathonship, only to flee and abandon them as soon as they click on to the next?
Is online dating to blame or is it simply a reflection of the sickness of the world at large? Are people who date only "in the real world" more ethical and honest than Internet daters?
Honesty and integrity isn't just something we bring to our love relationships -- it's something we need to expand in every aspect of our lives.
Tonja writes a column on dating published in more than one million newspapers. You can visit Tonja's website for more information.
Life coaches often quote one of my favorite poems, The Invitation, by Indian elder Oriah Mountain Dreamer. When people read it or hear it, you can see an instant response on their faces--an Aha! moment.
The poem calls each of us to examine the degree of integrity we bring to our lives:
"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..."
How closely we live our life in alignment with what we deeply desire brings us into our integrity. The greater our integrity, the more we are able to connect with others on a meaningful level. Some people are born into families that live and model integrity, and therefore, they carry integrity with them into every aspect of their lives.
Some people discover their values and what is most important to them after experiencing loss and resurrection. And others search for a substantive life in every conversation, sermon, class, or counseling session they find themselves in, looking for answers that will illuminate their way towards deeper meaning.
Whatever path one takes to arrive at the core of what matters to them, they bring that great richness to the relationship with their life partner.
"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..."
Having integrity is a choice. Ask yourself:
1.. Where does my life lack integrity right now and how do I know this.? Am I guilty, judgmental, defensive, or incessantly distracted so I don't have to face what I am running away from?
2.. What five big or small changes could I make right now that would restore my integrity?
3.. What would it take for me to live a life of no tolerations? What energy drainers have I been putting up with?
If you know that you are doing things that are hurting you, holding you back, keeping you hidden behind people or places, and you are not implementing systems that would make your life work, you do not have enough integrity to sustain the quality of life you long for.
Visualize what your life would look and feel like if you lived in a state of calm and grace, doing work that you felt passionate about, surrounded by people who loved and supported you. Visualize this often because--this is what you deserve.
The last lines of the poem speak to the heart of integrity:
" 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."
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I found the NSA Is For Losers tribe on Tribe.net So far, it only attracted 26 members. Guess there are more people into No Strings Attached, fly by night, flingy relationships than the stringy, messy kind -- at least on Tribe:
!!NSA is for LOSERS!!
This tribe is for those of us tired of selfish egomaniacal failures hiding behind the guise of NSA for their own pathetic purposes. This is an angry tribe - mainly for women, queers, and people interested in creating a world where romance is honest and free of self serving players. MISOGYNISTS stay away!!!
Then someone responded:
I'm a bit of a n00b here so please forgive me. what does NSA stand for?
I'm assuming it's not National Security Agency, National Stroke Association, National Sheriffs' Association, National Society of Accountants or National Shellfisheries Association. I guess Google doesn't have an answer for everything.