Welcome in to horizontal, the podcast about intimacy that’s recorded while: the opposite of vertical. My guest and I wear cozy robes and lie down, shoulder to shoulder, with the microphone positioned above us. It’s as though we’ve talked all night, and we’re still stargazing, but the sun is just starting to make itself known in yellows and oranges around the horizon. Horizontal aims to make private conversations public, in order to dispel shame, diminish loneliness, and cultivate connection.
In this episode, I lie down with my friend Josh. Josh and I met at Circling, which is a sort of inter-relational meditation. Whereas in meditation with oneself, I will sit silently with my eyes closed, observing my internal landscape, the sensations In my body, my cloud-thoughts as they pass and my hamster-wheel thoughts as they come back around, In Circling, I have my attention not only on myself, but also on the others around me, how their presence and the shifts in the room affect me, the stories I make up about them (sometimes thought of as assumptions), and what I imagine about their internal landscapes. In Circling, I try to hold an awareness of myself while also endeavoring to be deeply present with others. When it's done right, it seems to me to be a practice of deep empathy, both for what it might feel like to be someone else, but also, empathy and a certain kind of respect for what it feels like to be me in the moment. A reverence for the truth of the moment.
That is the context in which Josh and I met. And at first, I had the story that Josh didn't really like me very much. It is a vibe I sometimes get from particular gay men and from pretty, unkind women. I've never asked him how he felt when we first met, but I was delighted to learn, when he hugged me some months into Circling together at Amy Silverman’s Connection Movement nights in New York City, that he had a positive regard for me.
Josh is a fashion design-trained, floridly creative visual artist of many mediums, baker, cook, and new Circling facilitator. In Circling, he acts as an emotional lightning rod and visionary. He often expresses through sound, vibration, and convulsions, emotions that feel present in the room but latent— that others are either unwilling to express or unaware they exist. When I say that he is a visionary Circler, I mean that he literally has visions. He'll often have his eyes closed and when he opens them, he sometimes shares the images that came to him during someone's expression— there's usually something uncanny and relevant about it. Sometimes an object in the image is meaningful to the person, at otter times her seems to intuit what they desire in the moment but haven't thought to ask for. I often feel awe when he describes these images, and hearing him so bold with his associations has opened a gate for me to be bolder with mine.
We recorded this episode in his trailer at the Omega Institute, an expensive spiritual adult version of short-term sleepaway camp. Josh was towards the tail end of his work commitment there when I came to visit. I arrived late and tired, so we decided to record in the morning, during a rainstorm. The pitter-patter of the rain on the tin trailer is a sweet lulling to me. (I won't be offended if you fall asleep!)
If you enjoy lying down with us, become a patron of the horizontal arts! Patronage allows artists like me to make independent, uncensored, ad-free work, schedule recording tours, and devote my time to creating more horizontal goodness, for you! Becoming my patron has delicious benefits, ranging from quarterly lullabies to bonus episodes to tickets to live recordings to handwritten postcards! You can become a patron for $2 a month on up, and the rewards just get more sumptuous.
In the first half of our episode together, we talk about Josh's first gay stirrings, the right vegetables to put up your butt, spandex guy, porn energy work, and unintentional celibacy.
For some of my favorite yoga people, who have been asking me, “Which episode is the gayest?” Get ready. It is this one. Here. I'll prove it. Come lie down with us.
Here’s the moment where I give credit where credit is due: This episode was edited by Chad Michael Snavely! Peruse Chad’s other podcasts on chadmichael.com. My delectable cover art is by the illustrator Shana Shay, whom you can hire through 99designs— she’s such a pleasure to work with. Horizontal’s theme music is by Alan Markley, rock star and newly-minted Dad. You can find him on Instagram as plasticcannons.