This week I would like to focus on what I consider a very important subject: the difficult, often traumatic relationship of a woman with her body. Rarely is there a sense of ease and peace, of absolute trust, and innermost gratitude or appreciation for itself, apart from what it makes us feel or provides for us. The kind of loving relationship we might have with our child or even with a beloved pet is often not developed until we are much older and the body no longer is capable of conveying sexual or athletic merit. Any vanity is transferred to other areas.
A younger woman tends to be highly critical of her body. It often stands for what she dearly wishes to be and appear, what she thinks or projects that she is, or, embarrassingly, it insinuates a blemish, a stigma, or otherwise flaw to her possibilities. Perceived as an inconvenience to be corrected, it is considered something to be whipped into shape, driven, covered up, used as currency, or displayed as status symbol.
The body is the tool through which we manifest not what we are but what we hope to become and have. With it we challenge, provoke, enhance, adapt to, defeat and perpetuate social codes. We learn very early on that breast and curves are as good as gold and manage or display them in appropriate ways to our culture, social level, and personal ambition. If our pursuits are intellectual and professional we learn to dress it down, conceal and sublimate. If they are anything else, we do what we can with what we have and hope for the best, pretending not to know or notice. In almost any case, we develop a mighty chip on our shoulder.
Here follows the very first exercise in my book, THE INNER WOMAN. It is designed especially with women but it might serve the sensitive man well too. It is meant to rid us of the shadows surrounding intimacy, privacy and natural power, enjoyment and delight. It is meant to dissolve the dark phantom of sex and bring forth a genuine contact with the Self that lives powerfully and joyfully within and through the body.
I urge you to see, feel, experience and explore the body as an instrument of life and the precious gift of nature. For itself. Because you Are.
The Sacred Female Form(pages 91-92)
When you bathe, or shortly thereafter, take the time to touch and feel your body. You may begin simply by looking at, and touching, a foot, a hand. . . .
Never mind the judgments you may have had about it. Notice its shape and textures. Remind yourself that it is the Mother’s form, and that holy spiritual forces are at work there. Appreciate them and each body part you contemplate.
Now, as you touch it, become aware of feeling that touch at the skin level. Marvel at the perfection and the intricacy of this creation. Now pass into the inside of it and feel it being touched.
Bless that foot, that hand. . .each and every part of your body. “Blessing” means loving it and appreciating it for its service to you, for its beauty and its perfection. This may also trigger a train of thought concerning just how each part of your body serves you and what it means to the whole.
You are perceiving your body through the eyes of a mother, in the light of love’s perfection. Witness the power of that love to inspire, transform, and exalt the object of its affection.
Sense what that blessing produces in your foot and in each part of your body.
Proceed to bless the whole body. Become aware that the Mother feels what you feel. Everything you touch. . .each thing that you do. . .is the Mother’s activity upon the Earth.
Appreciate the great privilege of incarnating the sacred female form.
For a woman her body too often represents the face value others, especially a partner as symbol of security and power, place on her. To acknowledge that is somewhat painful.
Standing naked before the mirror is the place where we begin to make peace with ourselves, with Nature, with our gender, and eventually with one another. Ridding ourselves of our condemnations and demands begins here.
In many of my women’s groups, a woman is loath to look at herself naked in the mirror, much less with any neutrality. It puts her face to face with her projections, beliefs and experiences. This one fact presents the greatest obstacle to our work in liberating and mastering our energetic faculties as women. The first obstacle we have to overcome is the idea that the body is first and foremost, overtly or covertly, a sexual vehicle.
I invite you to add in your privacy, the element of the mirror to this exercise following your own rhythm. The suggestion is that whenever a value judgment, an expectation, a demand sets in…your own or another’s… put it aside and embrace the life that flows through you. Discover gratitude and joy. Just because.