Picture by MAJA LINDBERG
One of the many things I love about meditation and iRest® specifically is it gently taught me to love my whole self which includes my body.
I spent most of my life viewing my body as not my own, a thing to be despised.
As a childhood survivor of physical, sexual and emotional abuse this is not unusual. I had done the usual rounds of all the things we do, counselling, psychologists, more counselling, different counsellors rinse and repeat. There was a time I was so desperate to feel at home within myself I believed I needed to be ‘delivered’ at a church with absolutely no understanding of trauma whose counselling team attributed everything to spiritual causes. After several tries which only served to further traumatise me, I felt I was simply broken.
I went about my life with that deep nauseating sense of shame that grows and contorts and slowly constricts every area of life with its thick dark shadow.
I felt disconnected from myself, I did not particularly want to feel connected with myself because after all my body, my mind and my heart had only ever been the chattel for abuse. I felt I was unacceptable and unlovable. Permanently broken, an outcast, unable to be fixed.
Somewhere along the journey of living a half shadow life, parenting and still searching for that elusive sense of belonging I found contemplative practices again. The church I had attended had warned against such things but this time I read the science behind these practices. I took courses and immersed myself into everything I could find. I spent years studying, gaining certificates, and diplomas and then my degree followed by more certificates and still I love researching today. I learned about the neurobiology of trauma and how it rewires us and how with practice, with consistency and with compassion research has shown we can rewire ourselves out of the trauma responses with trauma informed meditative practices. I immersed myself into these practices.
I attended courses and a retreat which showed me how not to work with traumatised people and I attended courses and immersions where every fibre of my being felt welcomed and accepted and loved.
I learned with much practice and dedication that I could in fact feel at home within my body, within my mind and within my heart. I realised I was loveable and worthy and valuable, and, that shame that had followed me like a thick cloud for so many years simply drifted away.
I found a deep abiding sense of comfort and compassion that left me speechless.
This was what home felt like - safe, warm, loving, accepting, familiar, inviting, comforting, soothing.
Thích Nhất Hạnh says, “If you can accept your body” (and learn to appreciate and then like your body) “you can view your body as your home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, feel safe, feel joy and ease”.
I am not going to say this is easy because for many of us this takes an unravelling of sorts and a rebuilding of our beliefs and values. But this is important work.
I weave some of these gentle invitations to return home throughout my iRest® practices, building a sense of safety in the body, in the mind and in the heart and gradually layering in acceptance and gratitude and comfort and love. Weaving in tools and resources you can take home and use in your own life and world.
It is such a subtle art, such a gentle work and a deeply restorative process.
Thích Nhất Hạnh says “If you don’t accept your body and your mind, you can’t be at home with yourself. You have to accept yourself as you are. This is a very important practice. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.”
What is beauty you might ask?
I do not desire to become beautiful!
Mindfulness is rooted within oriental contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism. Buddhism recognizes that all beings are part of a whole, and the whole is beautiful. Beauty is without any specific form, and in effect could be called formless, yet it also serves as a unifying force.
And so, because this piece could easily become a thesis, I am going to leave this with a few simple statements and an excerpt for you to consider.
Essential Wholeness is what it is to be human.
We are human and we are being, and we have all that we need within us to live fulfilling lives.
Our Essential Wholeness includes body, mind, soul, and spirit. We are both changing and unchanging.
Our wellbeing is dependent on living in harmony with our own nature, which is at one with all of nature.
All things are interconnected.
Our deepest nature is pure awareness. When we live grounded in this realisation or awareness then we are living in wholeness, and we are beautiful.
We are born whole with everything we will ever need within us.
We live and grow, and society, cultural conditioning, social media, parental influences, experiences, stories and life constricts us and disconnects us from this truth, telling us we are lacking, we are not enough, we are fractured or broken.
“If the Buddha's teachings are about ending suffering and realising our true nature, then it would seem that the path toward ultimate wellness must lie in the direction that Einstein referred to when he said that to realise our wholeness we must learn to "widen the circle of our compassion to embrace all living beings and the whole of nature in all of its beauty."- Originally published on Huffington Post
May you remember the truth today, that you are valuable, glorious, worthy, beautiful and whole.
With much compassion