“To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself. And that’s political, in its most profound way.” —June Jordan
I completed my first section tonight. I used an exercise I was first exposed to in dance form via Eugene Hedlund’s Lines in the Sand workshop, called “Yes & No in the Body” (Eugene will be in Phoenix this weekend doing a workshop on “5 Rhythms: A key, not a cage”. Powerful stuff. Check it out here.) As Integrity and Authenticity are the legs the World Academy for the Future of Women walks on, I thought it was the perfect foundational exercise to get these young women leaders to become allies with their bodies and listen to the guidance that it offers. How can you stand in authenticity if you’re ignoring your gut? How can you have integrity if you’re disconnected from your body? Yet the messages about femininity that women are pummeled with every day via advertising, movies, tv, news, magazines and more encourages just that. Women more often than not experience their bodies only as objects. They look at their bodies from the outside rather than experiencing them from the inside.
Of course, this diminishes self-esteem, sense of empowerment, sense of self, even. How can you stand in Power if you can’t even stand in your own skin? How can you have integrity and authenticity—be Whole and Real—if you’re looking to escape your body? Aren’t allies with that which has been with you every second of day since you were born and will be with you until you die?
These are some of the questions we explored tonight.
Sunday, I got an email from Grace, one of the student office staff for WAFW. She’s the Ambassador Director, in charge of finding assistants for visiting speakers and facilitators, and making their stay with WAFW at SIAS and Xinzheng comfortable. She had some questions about my slides and wanted to know if we could meet. When I arrived at the office, she pulled up this slide:
“I don’t understand what you mean here” she told me. I began to explain that I was drawing parallels between our being able to fully embrace our bodies and our ability to fully embrace integrity and authenticity. Without these, we’re unable to fully express our Power. She saw the link between Integrity and Authenticity being the foundation for Power, but me connecting that to the body was causing some issues. “I’ve never thought of that” she said, her brow furrowed. “How can my arms, my hands, my feet, help me build these characteristics?”
“How can you build those characteristics without your arms, your hands and your feet?” I asked. “Do you have integrity and authenticity if you don’t have actions behind your words? Don’t your arms and hands and feet do that instead of your mind?”
“This I understand,” she replied, “but that’s different from my body guiding me.” Grace is fiercely intelligent. Her questions are probing and tireless. She doesn’t let go until she fully understands. It’s what immediately drew me to her the first moment we met in a staff meeting over the weekend. “How can the body guide me? It is important for me to work on my mind, for me to listen to my heart, but how can my body guide me?”
“Isn’t your heart part of your body? Isn’t your gut?”
Paradigm shift happening in 3…2…1…
There is nothing more beautiful than the radiance that came over her as she began to see through the haze to what I was pointing towards. We talked about how the body grounds us in the Here and Now. How it holds all of our memories, yet has no ego. How much it has to tell us if we’ll just listen to it. How it’s our best friend–working for us tirelessly every second of every day. Grace is an International Nursing student with ambitions of becoming a Nurse Practitioner if she can secure the visa to study it, so she knows better than the many just how hard the body is working for us.
Since there’d been some issues with connecting with my assistant, Grace said she would be my assistant. She arranged for others to escort me to class last night, but tonight she picked me up and even stayed through the class. I’m glad she was there. I knew she really understood what I was seeking to get across, so she was the perfect person to translate when needed.
Its amazing how many stories we attach to such simple words: yes, no. Incredible that so much baggage can be attached to just a handful of letters. How much we heap on them. How afraid of them we are. How much we read into them, even when there’s no context. The academy members opened themselves up fully to the experience. We had a great discussion after to process the activity—the sometimes halting English wasn’t an obstacle.
“Why do we say “Yes” when we want to say “No”? Why do we say “No” when we want to say “Yes”?”
Oftentimes, it’s because we’re worried about what others will think, what others will say. How much energy we lose worrying about this! How much drama we have in our lives because of it! More importantly, it sets us up in a place where what’s going on outside of us is more important than what’s happening inside of us. Puts us in a place where being desirable is more important than being magnificent. What are we really saying yes to? What are we really saying no to?