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Church of Soul

Sharing lessons from Oct 18 with Taber Shadburne on Soul to Soul love

Over the past nearly six years that I’ve been hosting the Intimacies Discussion Group that The Good Life magazine sponsors at BookPeople, I’ve had many wonderful guests. With the publication of the book, Intimacies: Secrets of Love, Sex & Romance, and the launch of this blog, I will now begin reporting on some of the most salient moments that occur during these local, face-to-face meetings. I’ll post in part about them here and use some of the lessons learned in some of my future columns. I begin now with telling you about the great evening we had on Weds, Oct 18, when Taber Shadburne was my special guest at the Intimacies Discussion Group.

Taber Shadburne Taber has been studying comparative mysticism, Buddhism, psychology and conscious communication since the early ‘80s and teaching and counseling since 1990. He is the founder of the Church of Soul in Oakland California. On the recommendation of Jade Beaty, a previous special guest, I invited Taber to come talk to the group about Soul to Soul love, for a mind- and heart-opening discussion about overcoming inner obstacles to create deeper, more intimate relationships.

He showed up with his guitar and told me that in addition to doing counseling and leading workshops, he was a musician. After I introduced him, he warmed up the twenty-five of so folks who came to hear him with a song with lyric, appropriate to the topic:

“You are such a true friend of mine, the way you listen and the way you speak your mind…I just gotta thank you, for true friends are so hard to find. There is sunshine in your laughter, sweet nectar in your tears, there is something deep inside your eyes, I’m hoping you are near, cause you are such a friend to me, and I want to thank you baby for being my friend.”

He played guitar and sang the lyrics above with a clear, powerful voice. Then he introduced himself as “a recovering shy guy.” We all laughed, identifying with him and admiring him for his obvious transformation.

He told us, “When I was young, I never felt I fit in or had a since of belonging. Later in life, talking to the people who looked to me that they were popular, said, ‘No, I really didn’t feel I belonged or fit in either.’ It was obvious in my case, but even those who appear gregarious on the outside, are shy on the inside.”

Taber experienced himself as lonely and spent a lot of time by himself. He took that to its full extreme and, at age thirteen or fourteen, he spent a month by himself in the woods. Later he lived in a Zen Center, where people are around but you never talk with them. He got a masters degree in psychology and dove deep inside himself. In the process, he says, he learned a lot about what makes connection, what makes for intimacy between people.

“I realized that it wasn’t just me, there’s a way in which, we’re not very conscious of it, there’s a way in which people relate to each other which predictably creates less connection and intimacy than would be possible. People have an unconscious stake in a way of relating to each other that keeps them at a safe distance. Relating together in an more intimate way is intense. It is beautiful, but it requires being able to tolerate a little more heat, more intensity. It’s a package deal. If you want have all the legitimacy and love that we all at least secretly crave, it requires also being able to sit in some of these uncomfortable places.

“The messy, juicy stuff of life, that’s where I like to go play in on purpose. It requires that you get your hands dirty and deal with the messy stuff. But that all the juiciness is, what everyone wants the center of, where the magic happens

“Most people settle for a muted middle,.where it doesn’t get as messy, at least not on purpose. You avoid as much mess as possible, but you miss the intimacy in life as well.

As an example of that, Taber invited every to play a little game, called “Sometimes, I pretend….”
In it, each of us, seated in a large circle, one by one, turned to the party on our left and, loud enough for all to hear, completed the sentence, “Sometimes, I pretend….” The receiver simply replied, “Thank you,” and the game continued around the circle.

Taber began by looking me directly in the eyes and said, “Sometimes, I pretend I’m not attracted to someone when I am.” The comments and honesty that followed in the game (which revealed clear patterns of pretense that varied between men and women) and in the hour-long discussion that followed about how to cease that isolating behavior and make soulful connections with other people was wonderfully candid filled with laughter and gained insights.

I invite you to respond to this post with your comments. You may like to take your turn by
completing the sentence, “Sometimes, I pretend….” yourself.

Welcome to the Intimacies Discussion Group.