For me, it began when I was in my 30s.
I romanced myself in the gothic bathroom of the old semi in Balmain. Jasmin grew in the cracks of the rotting window sill, and hung long and down into my bathtub. I lit candles. The floor was concrete, the room was big; it was a dreaming space and a sexing space. I sang made-up songs loudly with the shower on full.
I bought a big case of chalk pastels from the lovely old art supplies store and sat in bed playing with colour. Some nights I traded the chalk for paint and allowed the energy within to create shapes and colour and movement on the page, and sometimes on the bedsheets. One night I did this with a friend. We drank vodka and created an art show of woven limbs on a page that really could have exhibited anywhere.
Workshops. Journals. Books and books and books until no books had anything to add to what had woken up inside. The Hum. The “every question has its own answer”; question and answer are one; no more questions. I dreamed big dreams. I played happily in small moments. I cried and ached and dreamed again. I started a business to bring spiritual awareness to the corporate world and pounded the pavement and achieved some perhaps—a little here, a little there.
I walked down the cliff face at the Dawn Fraser pool and sat on the rock in the middle of the amber wall and meditated, merging with the water, the trees and the old town.
I danced through many, many nights, running across the city with my heart open and heels high…heels…high…and made very many new best friends.
I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and in my room I was all kinds of ill and lonely and desperate and wise and expanded. So much life inside and so much watching and waiting as the world went by over there someplace. Day turned into night, then day and night waiting endlessly for my body to fire up with energy again.
I got clear about all the things I was not: I wasn’t an “ungrateful child”; I wasn’t the awkward, fat one (or maybe I had her remnants still, but with all kinds of deeply sensual woman-love fuelling me); I wasn’t the ambitious career woman (except when I was); I wasn’t the suburban girl; after a time I wasn’t Little Miss Inner City either; I wasn’t a hippie (although a sweet flower child resides inside); I wasn’t a push-over; although sometimes in desperate straits I wasn’t a desperate person; I wasn’t much of a follower. It was so freeing to experience and notice all of these, one by one.
During this decade I experienced wild freedom and great limitation. Somewhere, in the tension between these two forces, I fell in love with myself.
Something woke up. I touched my body as a lover would. I offered the same touch to trees I befriended (no drugs involved, honest). I looked in the mirror and it warmed and stirred me. No matter what pain or darkness followed, and it did, my primal state, the ultimate known truth, was of being in love and lit in joy and awe and wonder at the energies that moved through me.
Looking back I guess I see some kind of imperfect alchemy between expression and containment, the feminine and masculine and a burning desire for truth and wholeness.
So, I ask, what would it take to fall in love with ourselves?
That is, not to hate ourselves, not to have a balanced view of ourselves, but to let go and surrender into ourselves so that each breath beats alive with the pure joy of being.
So that we lose ourselves as in a lover, but in truth fall more deeply into and through the layers that we are: an open heart field through which universal energy flows.
Welcome flow, a river raising us higher and higher, expanding beyond places fumbling lovers touched.
We and the flow are one…and not. For the dance remains. And the dancer being danced. A delicious All that melts our field and changes what our eyes see.
What would it take?
For me it was chalk and tears, midnight and mad dancing, rising, falling, rising, falling, until it no longer mattered if I was rising or falling, or maybe it did a little, but the essence of me remained—the voluminous river running through, ever expanding me.
What would it take?
Here are some places to start.
1. Retire the tired.
Notice what is tired and old in our lives: the roles we’ve outgrown, the mental habits. In the slowing down and noticing, we may find we have less energy or desire to keep it up. Notice the needs we’ve been trying to meet in this way and hold them kindly and consciously.
2. Tune in.
Think about the people and places where we are most ourselves. Notice how that feels in body, and how we behave and express ourselves. Now imagine expanding this way of being into other areas of our lives.
3. Love into the closure.
Become aware of where we may suppress our true needs and desires around certain people. Take a moment to really notice and be with that. Feel into the closure–the state of protection–and from this safe place, ask what would be the next small step toward opening. Even staying present in the dynamic but consciously opening up our chests and our breath, connecting our bellies and our breath while the same-old, same-old is going on, will start to change things.
4. Find it and amplify it.
Now let’s try the other way: think big. If we knew we would always be safe and respected and accepted, what would we like to explore, speak or play with? Be known for? If we took the essence of ourselves and turned up the volume to 100, what would that look like, who would we be with, what would we be doing, what would that feel like?
With our whole bodies and all five senses.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Assistant Editor: Kathryn Rutz / Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: flickr creative commons