I felt it coming. Not surprising really, I’ve always had an affinity for nakedness and the vulnerable.
Although vulnerability has been strictly forbidden by my ego. My subconscious is programmed to “Whatever you do, don’t show yourself!!! Make yourself small, duck. Don’t share what you really feel and don’t share what you really want (especially not that!)”.
The suppression of myself has been more extensive; expressed through negative self-talk (mostly unconscious). This suppression of myself is mirrored in the suppression of others; the automated habits to pick on others, correct others, show contempt for others choices, interests and abilities or lack thereof.
It’s just the same suppression going on, inwards (towards myself) and outwards (towards others). The ways we, consciously and unconsciously, speak to and treat ourselves, are the same ways we treat others.
The suppressive part of my mind also expects perfection. Perfection from me, that carries over to my demands and judgements of others. Never being good enough is the drive and disease of my mind-body. Yoga teaches me to let go of this uncompromising and disabling mind-set, helping me come to peace with myself and others.
Talking about “drive”; a word often used in work ads to describe a positive trait of an ambitious person. Drive is just another form of self-flaggelation, as I heard Tim Ferriss say in an interview. I agree with him.
In lack of self-esteem and groundedness, I wanted to become a rock-star, to show “them” I’m valid and valuable. When I was not sure I was lovable, I looked for approval in the external world, in being a “good” girl, keeping the house clean, delivering impeccable reports at work, keeping my body in perfect shape, flirting with men to get power over them when they fall in love and get vulnerable. I’m still looking for approval externally, nowadays I see it showing up in difficulties to trust myself and seeking approval of what I’m thinking and doing from other people.
Aaugh, these shadows of the body-mind…
See? The unwelcome, me feeling “aaugh” about them. I feel ashamed not being perfect, pure, balanced! As my ego keeps echoing: shadows aren’t allowed.
I see how I’m not happy about these negative reflections from my suppressive mind, however I can understand that that part of the mind has, or had, a function of regulating my behavior to be accepted in family/society and thereby survive. No wonder it’s strongly influential…
Learning to soften
Through life, practice and work, I’m learning that my view of perfect isn’t even applicable on human beings. At all. As my teacher Jai told me: “Perfectionism has no place in this world”.
Learning that I’m not perfect, just like everyone else, releases my heart into more softness. My ego is disappointed, I can feel that too. But my body relaxes. My heart, hips, head and throat relaxes; these centers of connection (heart) and pleasure (hips) and relaxing into being rather than performing (head) and speaking my truth rather than what someone else wants to hear (throat).
But what to do with the shadows?
My ego says: “sweep them under the rug and pretend they’re not there”.
My wiser self tells me the only right approach is to embrace the vulnerable and fearful child behind these shadows, gently rocking her in my arms like a mother holding her baby. This is the child who hasn’t learned to love herself completely; the child who’ve been so hurt she’s gone into hiding, feeling ashamed of herself. Believing something is wrong with her, so she has to put up a face, a façade, a persona that she’s practiced for so long, she forgot that’s not who she is.
These shadows are the expressions of a whole set of blockages in my body-mind, creating a whole set of imbalances in my body-mind. My yoga practice is about healing and re-balancing my body-mind, to allow for divine energy to flow through me more easily.
Divine is completely natural and normal by the way, nothing special really. But it feels really good to be in conscious touch with it. I’m writing this to remind myself, I tend to fall into the thought of divine as “magic”, “unreachable”, “fantasy” (the image of perfection, you know…). Well, it’s not. God is normal and natural, the space and content of the Universe, plain and simple.
Naked & Naked
Ok, so I wanted to talk about vulnerability and nakedness. I said I’ve always had an affinity for nakedness. Who hasn’t, really?? That’s what we are, the rest is just stuff we put on.
My interest in nakedness is in emotional nakedness first of all. Vulnerability, that is.
I’m practicing being able to be in that vulnerability when people are around me. It’s difficult for me but I’m very slowly learning to relax my heart when I’m being seen. My biggest challenge is to do that while I’m supposed to perform and deliver something to others, learning to hold space for myself and others at the same time.
When I say the word naked, I guess most of us will picture the physical nakedness. I like that too.
Physical nakedness brings the feeling of freedom. Being naked in a safe space of course, I like being naked in nature. Also, physical nakedness takes away at least one layer of my imagined persona, the image of myself as my screwed up body-mind is delivering for others to see, the layer that my ego puts on again and again to strengthen and reinforce my (limited) beliefs about myself (I’m a this and that, believing I’m defined and valued by my clothes/gender/profession/looks/money/social status/religion/stuff that I own/relationships that I have).
So I like naked, to get closer to what I am. Pure, vulnerable, strong, divinely human. Just like you.
This (website, showing myself, speaking for someone to actually hear) is a struggle! Although it brings inspiration and energy like I’m going in the right direction.
I cringe when I say the word self-love and feel uncomfortable seeing my name on my website. My mind-body is currently set to view others as completely valid, just not me.
How dangerous isn’t it to live blindly with a belief like that, to not value our own perspective, our own HEART, and instead search for the right answer from the outside world, from other people!? Waiting to be directed, even if it doesn’t feel right.
To counter my need for external validation I try to WATCH myself. And LOVE myself.
Loving myself makes my body and heart soften, all the while my ego is delivering all sorts of protests, making me feel uncomfortable, shameful, greedy (if I listen more to the mind chatter than my body).
It helps to turn my attention to the BODY instead. Sensing, feeling, observing more than thinking. HOW I FEEL, not what I think, is what DETERMINES MY EXPERIENCE in this world anyway (thank you Godfri for inspiration!). I’d rather feel good than be right.
This journey towards more balance, through the nature of the body (thanks again Jai for inspiration!) is taking me closer and closer to vulnerability, to self-love, to connection.
My hope is that sharing my insights openly can help someone.
In the process, I’ve felt that my last name symbolizes my façade of the high-achiever and perfectionist, what I thought to be me. I realized it’s just a role I’ve learned to play, so well I forgot myself.
And as I stumbled across my new domain name, tove.love (coming soon), I knew that this is where I’m heading. Into more vulnerability and heart, despite the protests and fears of my ego.
The entire process of yoga practice and yoga teaching is helping me heal my wounded and blocked off heart, journeying into more CONNECTION, within and without. I’m coming to see, in more clarity, how the human body-mind is functioning, how my imbalances affect my life and how I can restore the balance.
My heart’s in its healing process, recovering, still shaky.
What about you my friend, how’s your heart?
Photo by zabethanne