Tag Archives: women’s bodies

This is my body, this is my home…

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Baubo

This year, the AZ Goddess Conference honored Baubo, a goddess of belly laughs and body wisdom.   Baubo is bawdy and wise, strong and confident, deeply centered in her body, and wherever she shows up, she reconnects women to their power and creativity.  No coincidence that she draws attention to the woman’s belly and speaks through the vulva– the portal of all human life on this planet.

Any supermarket line–or facebook sidebar–screams messages to tame your tummy, bind your belly, suck in your stomach, hold it in, keep it in or face the consequences.  We’re willingly buying things called spanx as an aid (or punishment) in this struggle against our bodies.  In many representations, Baubo’s third eye is a navel.  How does it impact our own connection to our intuition if we’re treating the locus of our intuition as an enemy to be defeated? If it must be spanxed into submission? Tamed? Controlled? Sucked-in?

Anxiety, fear, compulsion, depression, addiction– these are the natural human reactions to feeling disconnected from ourselves and others.  The first step to stopping these reactions is to connect with ourselves.  To connect with our bodies.

Dineta Williams led the workshop before mine in the Sunshine House at the Peaceful Spirit Enrichment Center Saturday morning. She’s been working with the The Woman’s Belly Book and taught us a chant that continued to resonate with me throughout the retreat.  Say it with me.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Put your hands on your belly.  Rub it lovingly like the precious thing it is and let’s do it again-

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

As we continued to repeat the chant, I felt my connection to my body grow.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Feelings of disconnect and floating began to wash away.  Being a deep-thinking progressive raised in an abusive environment in a conservative family in a traditional region, I’ve done a lot of moving around and travelling trying to find the place where I belong.  I’ve studied multiple religions looking for my home.  I’ve gone through multiple relationships searching for the place where I could settle down.  In the past decade, there’s been much more peace, but the search has left its scars.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Like Dorothy and her ruby slippers, home was here all along…

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

And the insanity and tragedy and comedy of all those years of feeling so alone and lost begin to wash over me.  The fears of not being supported and loved revealed for their meaninglessness.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Our homelessness epidemic begins with our own embodiment.  The recession pushing people on to the street while houses stand empty becomes a metaphor for our own state of being.  Perfectly good dwellings stand empty and in disrepair while people drift in sorrow, disconnected from their lives and those they thought they loved and loved them.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.

My body, its voice so loving and supportive, is always here for me.  Even when I can’t bear the pain (psychological or physical) of what is happening in a moment– I leave, but my body stays.  My body bears it for me- feels it all.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Gratitude flows.  Love grows.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

In my workshop, we went deeper into listening to our bodies.  The basis of gratitude and love makes this much easier- after all, do you share much with someone that’s always putting you down?  The body doesn’t withhold the information, but our attitude towards it severs the lines of communication.  Yet its listening to the body that connects us to the intuition– the stuff fairy godmothers and fairies are made of.  Its this connection that helps the sheroes of folk- and fairytales to get impossible loads of work done and achieve immense tasks.

That evening, we had a ceremony to honor our bellies.  Each of us was called to come to the middle of the circle, raise our skirt/shirt like Baubo and show our bellies to the group, then say where our power comes from.  We could also tell a bad joke if we wanted to.  There was a basket of jokes on the table in the center to help those of us that can never remember the punchline.

It was one of the most empowering, fun and funny rituals I’ve ever taken part in.  Everyone looked like little kids to me– raising their shirt to show their bellies to us all.  Rubbing and patting them.  The woman that went before me really inspired me.  “This really scares me, but since my divorce I promised myself to face my fears, so here I go–” she said before she raised her shirt.  It was so beautiful.  With each belly bared, we whooped and cheered and clapped.

I stepped up.  I raised up my dress “Here’s my bell-eh”, I said as I held my dress up with one hand and began to move the pants I wore under down a bit (I’m not very good at being lady-like, so I tend to wear something under dresses).  “But wait, you’ve got to see the whooooole thing–” as I moved the pants down on the sides to show the full expanse of my apron- as I call it “–or you haven’t seen it at all.”

I surprised myself.  I’ve come to accept my paunch, to see my stretchmarks as battlescars rather than evidence of damaged goods, but the side-flaps?  I have trouble with those.  My partner in Holland used to play with them when we were cuddled on the couch watching TV.  I hated it.  “Why?” he would ask.  “They’re so soft and fun!”  I could only see what a great departure they were from the flat belly I’d had as a teenager–he only part of my body I didn’t feel ashamed of… my family regularly called me thunder thighs and bubble butt.  The kids at school made fun of my ski-slope nose.  I wouldn’t wear sandals because of the weird toenail that’d been ripped off when I was a toddler.  My mom told me I had the ankles of a football player.  My wrists were too thick for most women’s jewelry and watches because of our Dutch bones– my height leaving me in the decidedly un-feminine position of being as tall or taller than most boys. To say nothing of having an hourglass figure in an era when androgyny was in fashion…. but my stomach.  My stomach was flat.  My hips poked up when I laid flat.   My stomach was the only part I’d never been ashamed of.  Losing it in child bearing sunk me into a place of complete defensiveness for YEARS.  The coining of the term FUPA hasn’t helped.  Hiding it is my main fashion objective.  And here I was, pulling my pants down on the side so that everyone could see it.

“You have to see the full breadth of it.  You have to see it all to love this belly. ” The group roared with applause.  “This belly of mine that birthed a beautiful baby boy.  Held him so well that he was born well over 9 pounds and walked just after 8 months.  This belly did that.

“And my power?  Where does my power come from?  It comes from the place my laughter comes from.  The place that makes my belly shake HA HA HA” I thundered.  My belly laugh got everyone else laughing too “My power is from the place that gives me a laugh that “shakes the foundations of the buildings” (as one of the academy members in China described me) “may it shake the foundations of the walls and systems that keep us caged so that we can be free!”

What a rush!!!  It was amazing!

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

After we’d all shown our bellies and said where our power comes from, we got rattles and drums and sticks and chanted the mantra

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

We walked to the sanctuary to pick up gifts that were waiting for us on the altar.  As I was walking back, more on my own, I continued to chant

-This is my body-

Looking at the desert plants around me

-This is my home-

I felt the dust against the sides of my sandaled feet

-This is where I live-

and the bigness of this chant really began to resonate through me

-This is my body-

The earth and I are connected- I’d long noticed how the land in a region impacts the people that live on it

-This is my home-

The relationship that people,their culture, and their surroundings have and the ways they influence each other

-This is where I live-

The pride and love and sense of accomplishment that comes when we love something as our own.  The way we identify with it and tend it and devote our resources to looking after it.

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Connecting with and loving our bodies isn’t just the key to our own happiness, health, and fulfillment– it is the foundation of the work of healing the planet and our societies.

So say it with me once again

This is my body.

This is my home.

This is where I live.

Say it till you feel it.  Repeat as necessary.

Magnificent or Desirable?

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“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:

Relationship to the Body 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?