November 24, 2009
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.