Your Real Body By Camille Maurine Mmm...the languid lushness of summer. Relaxing, lazin' about, regenerating deeply. Giving myself time just to be, to do nothing, to sink into my luscious inner roots. Ah...With each breath I drink in the pleasure of simply existing, my body soaking up nourishment from this marvelous natural world...Yes, I'm having a love affair with life. Sound familiar? Hallelujah! You've found the secret of health and joy.
Or does such luxurious rest and sensuality seem like foreign territory, unrealistic, or even taboo? If so, you're not alone. Our culture is moving at a breathless pace. And for women, caretakers of the world, sensuous time for the self is often the last thing we feel we can have. What, are you crazy? Who has time to rest? Won't the world fall apart if I let go? What will people think? Won't I get arrested if I give in to pleasure? Won't my brain turn to mush? And my body, ugh, let's not talk about that!
Being at home in your body is your feminine birthright and strength. Yet many of us have inherited alienating or shameful attitudes toward our bodies and pleasure, so it behooves us to approach the subject gently. Let's look at some of the issues we face.
I am continually amazed at how many tasks women juggle in a day: attending to loved ones, working hard, managing a household, tracking a million details at once. A woman's nervous system is a highly tuned instrument, sensitive to her environment, picking up emotional undercurrents in family and friends. Naturally responsive, giving, and compassionate, she tends to override her own needs to take care of others', that is, until she drops from exhaustion. But hey, somebody's got to do it! Isn't that my job? While this is part of our feminine generosity, we can forget to be generous to ourselves.
Other-oriented attention can become a habit; the brain gets into a groove of self-forgetting, giving away our power to outer events. We notice everything that's wrong, every little imperfection. Taking a different path, turning loving attention toward the self, can be difficult because it goes against our cultural conditioning. But in so doing, we tap into our core, the place of connection to the richness and fecundity of life. This is a palpable, bodily sensed reality. The trick is learning to perceive and value that reality.
Body-based meditation is a powerful form of self-care and revelation, and can lead you back home to yourself. The space of meditation allows us to drop down into a state of rest deeper than sleep, and a sense of pleasure that puts us into rapport with the larger body of Nature. Our senses dilate and open to receive from the benevolent forces of life. We realize our intimate, sensual relationship with the primal movement of creation. I call this state deep pleasure, and it is profoundly healing.
Thirty years of working with women, myself included, has taught me that deep pleasure is not an indulgence but a necessity, and now more than ever. When we meet ourselves with loving attention, the places in us that are thirsty and parched become moist and return to healthy flow. For women, having this inner moisture is essential. Our bodies need it as an antidote to the dryness of aging and the depletion of burnout. Our hearts need it to be healed. Through sensuality and flow we connect with the source within, the roots of our true power.
To claim this body reality, we must confront our cultural biases and assumptions. Because power in the world is still defined by male values – ignoring body rhythms, emotions, the need for rest and other vulnerabilities – women have learned to play by those rules. Being successful in business is especially challenging, pressured by those attitudes and behaviors. Yes, we can do it like the guys; we certainly have the wits and capability. But men and women alike are paying a tremendous price. Is it any wonder that the use of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs is so widespread? For women, the sacrifice is profound: being divorced from our feminine roots.
In the prevailing atmosphere, "body" is one more thing to manage, an object to be manipulated, a machine to be controlled. Thus cut off from body wisdom, cut off from deep pleasure, we are cut off from our inner core. Valiantly we flounder, roots dangling high and dry. Overextended and under supported, we are lost. We may not even know that we're lost. Usually, though, we have a vague uneasiness, a sense that something is missing. We are somehow "beside ourselves," maybe even depressed, or filled with despair. We don't know where to turn.
All of us have been hypnotized to some degree, our bodies colonized by collective values and expectations. It takes courage to face this and break free of the trance, and we each need help. Resources such as Jennifer's books, and mine, provide practices to support your feminine essence and sovereignty. You can wrest power back from external sources, draw it back into yourself, back into your body.
Even one conscious breath can bring you home. With each inhalation, drink in the breath like a secret elixir, the substance of health, creativity, and joy. Breathe into your heart, soften and melt. Imagine your whole body flooded with light, sense how energy streams through you everywhere. Celebrate this as the way life is expressing itself through you. Recognize these impressions as your essential nature, part of the divine nature of the universe. This is your real body, not the one in the mirror.
Your real body is the rich world of internal sensation and movement, the streaming currents of life force flowing through you. Your real body is not based on how you look and if you compete with the impossible ideals flouted in magazines and on TV. Your real body comes from being in touch inside and honoring your emotional truth, not from being a lean machine. Your real body is the warmth of hugging someone special, or the sweetness of holding a baby in your arms. Your real body is the awe of gazing at a sunset, or merging with the vastness of the night sky. Your real body is the tender touch of compassion toward yourself, no matter what's going on. Your real body is the body of love.