Strength Training For Holding the Weight of My Own Desire
by Antesa Jensen Apr 26, 2016
Last March while traveling in Turkey, I found myself on a date (as one does) with a tour guide I met during my visit to the Aya Sofya in Istanbul.
As we were playing the requisite Get To Know You Q&A while walking across the Galata Bridge, I found myself telling him about my Olympic Weightlifting hobby. I described my most recent competition and how exhilarating it was, and regaled him with stories of how I could back squat almost 150% of my body weight.
Confused, he stopped walking, and looked straight at me.
"Why do you feel it's necessary to be so strong?"
Dumbfounded, I replied with what seemed an obvious answer, in the form of a question: "Because it's healthy and it feels good?"
Unwilling to accept this as a viable answer, he continued. "If you want my opinion, all that physical strength is compensating for a place where you never felt emotionally strong as a child."
I immediately rebuffed the notion. I knew how great it felt to be strong. I knew I loved the way my muscles burned under the weight of a heavy barbell. I knew how powerful I felt successfully lifting that weight over my head. I knew how relieved I was to, after years of hard work recovering from a lot of childhood illness, finally feel truly healthy. I knew this guy must have no idea what he was talking about given he'd never once picked up a barbell and felt the weight of it on his own body.
And judging from my immediate and somewhat defensive denial of his declaration, I knew that I was sufficiently nailed.
It may come as no surprise that upon returning home from that trip, while ambitiously training for my next weightlifting competition, I sprained my wrist during a warm-up snatch, halting any and all progress made up until that point, and forcing me into a training routine that sling-shotted me all the way back to the basics. My physical progress had simply become too much for my emotional self to bear: I didn't actually believe I could have all the strength I had been training for.
If I had only known then that this was a preview for what was about to come.
About a month later I met the man who introduced me to Orgasmic Meditation, and in discovering that practice, and our budding relationship, I fell madly, wildly, in love (as one does).
In what seemed like no time at all, a man known for putting women into their involuntary with as little as a two second eye gaze had opened up and brought to the surface all the places where I had zero emotional strength. Places where I tried to be perfection in human form. Places where I gripped onto people and places and feelings and situations in order to feel any semblance of control. Places where I was totally disconnected from the broader limits of my narrow emotional range.
And so it was that together we rediscovered my anger, my sadness, my fear, my elation, my lost little one, and my lawless wild child. In this practice of rediscovery, there were many times where I got really messy, which in and of itself was contradictory to my entire identity. And when I withheld or attempted to hide any of these things from him, to protect my identity, my OMs with him went completely numb.
Ah, intimacy: how unbelievably uncomfortable.
I believe strongly in karmic connections that serve merely to reveal the places in ourselves requiring healing. No one ever knows how long they'll last, but they are so compelling that it is impossible to run away from them. Maybe they'll last the duration of an early evening in Istanbul, maybe several months, maybe multiple lifetimes, but the message is loud and clear: I have hired you to teach me something.
When someone so masterfully and successfully cracks you upon and shows you all the pieces of yourself that you never knew before, it's hard not to get attached. You begin to associate all those feelings with the person, rather than with yourself. You think you can't access those things without their provocation, and risk becoming dependent on something outside of yourself in order to feel whole. They become the locus of your desire. It's a dangerous cycle that, if left unattended, can lead to never fully recovering from the injury that was there to be healed in the first place; the wound that this karmic connection is here to uncover. And when the lesson is complete and the relationship peaks, you discover that final nuanced place where your heart grips in order to feel in control, even though you know, deep down, that it's in full surrender that you'll find your true stability.
Looking back on the volatility of this particular karmic connection, I see clearly where I did not feel strong enough to hold the weight of my own desire, making the necessary surrender surprisingly difficult. What's worse is how shameful I felt that I could not simply force my heart into surrender in this spot. On a grey day, the patience required to fully let go feels hopeless and impossible.
When I got into weightlifting, I started a strength training program that involved squatting three days a week. The program was customized to me, my needs, and my desires. I wanted to be leaner, I wanted to be faster, and I needed to be stronger. I remember the first time I stood under a barbell for backsquats, thinking how heavy 50kg felt on my shoulders, on my glutes, on my thighs, on my knees. I couldn't imagine a time where 50kg wouldn't feel heavy, and midway through my second set, I found myself crying at how hopeless and impossible it felt. My body was so sore the first two weeks of that program that I could hardly walk.
Today I use 50kg as my first warm-up weight.
Matters of the heart and soul are tricky business, but they are no trickier than matters of the body. Healing and strength in every level of obscurity requires practice, and as it turns out, you cannot have one without the other. And just like my squat practice is strength training for holding the weight of a heavy barbell over my head, my OM practice, and my ability to let my heart love fully surrendered, is strength training for holding the weight of my own desire.
(Photo Credit: Oli McAvoy)