Over the weekend, I attended a series of workshops co-facilitated by two exceptional teachers named Monique Darling and Peter Petersen.
I have known Monique for a few years as a facilitator of another workshop I offer called Cuddle Party. Peter and I had met back in the spring. I trusted both of them implicitly to be my guides through what I was certain would be a supremely life altering experience.
I knew that if I was going to invest 72 hours of my time, I wasn’t about to skate on the surface. I was prepared to get wet and splash about in every experience that lay before me. I was also clear that I was there as a full participant and not a teacher.
In the past that had been a monumental challenge, since it was a façade behind which I hid, in order to avoid fully feeling. This time I was as emotionally buck nekkid as I could have been; peeling off layers that I hadn’t even known existed that had calcified over my heart and had left me floundering at times.
The focus was multi-fold, opening our hearts, safely stretching our comfort zones, experiencing ecstasy, diving into long repressed deep emotions and exploring sometimes dark and scary realms. Through incorporating the Chinese movement modality of Qigong, massage and getting to know you and me partner exercises, I emerged on the other side of this cosmic carwash squeaky clean, with very little residue.
One knock-me-on-my-butt lesson came courtesy of Monique. As I was sitting on the blanket and cushion-strewn floor she kneeled behind me and massaged my head. That is one of my favorite ways of experiencing nurturing touch.
Sighing, I reached back and began to massage her in return.
Her message to me?
Please put your hands back on your legs. I don’t need or want anything from you right now. I’m doing this for you because I love you. Just receive.
A visceral response—tears welled up and spilled out. As much as I felt loved and well taken care of in the moment, it occurred to me that if no one needed or wanted anything from me, I was of no use to them. Then where would I be?
My caretaking skills had long been my medium of exchange and insurance against being abandoned. What if…I pondered. It was likely that I could be loved just for being and I didn’t need to sell my soul for it. Was I willing to risk that belief? What did I really have to lose except an archaic perspective that kept me imprisoned and held people at a distance? I also considered that by remaining stuck in that pattern, I was being manipulative and not authentic in my giving. That revelation was painful and embarrassing to consider and admit.
Throughout the weekend, I allowed myself to unabashedly receive the attention and affection that showered down generously without the expectation that I return the energy measure for measure. I felt it soaking into my pores, infiltrating my muscles, being absorbed into my bone marrow; not casting it off as I would have habitually, thinking I didn’t deserve it, because I hadn’t done enough.
If I also didn’t want or need anything from other people with the expectation that something was amiss if I didn’t get what I wanted, then could I up-level my relationships? It wouldn’t stop either of us from asking. It might just mean more freedom to offer love that wasn’t contingent on calculation. What a revolutionary concept, this unconditional love thing.
“Unconditional love really exists in each of us. It is part of our deep inner being. It is not so much an active emotion as a state of being. It’s not ‘I love you’ for this or that reason, not ‘I love you if you love me.’ It’s love for no reason, love without an object.” ~ Ram Dass
Author: Edie Weinstein
Editor: Travis May