One regret that I am determined not to have
when I am lying upon my
is that we did not kiss
A few days ago, I had a wonderful conversation with Flossie, a teacher at the Soul of Yoga. We spoke of spirituality and living the practice of yoga through our daily lives and in our relationships with others. What I loved most was learning a bit more about how the Vedantic traditions believe in an upliftment of self to connect with Spirit, while Tantric beliefs draw Source from above into the earth and the experiences we have. I'm still quite a novice to expanding my consciousness, but one of the wonderful things my beau has taught me is how to be a more critical thinker. My independent conclusions up until this point are echoed in one of the things Flossie remarked, "I don't believe in a God who would punish me for enjoying this body He gave me. Obviously, everything in moderation, but sensuality is an important experience to connect with the Divine like any other."
Over the past few days, I've been ruminating on the idea of being my own woman. By that, I mean shunning all of the ideas that were planted in my head at an early age of how I should, behave, and simply be. What a prison this is, to always feel "less than" when compared to some imaginary and unattainable perfectionistic standard outside of myself that I didn't even set!
What's more, I grew up in a traditional Chinese household, where it was expected that I would always be quiet and subservient, perpetually deferring to the adults around me. Unfortunately, being submissive is not in my nature! And, because of it, I was constantly yelled at, demoralized, and punished. Once I grew older, I realized that the adults around me were inept and flawed. Yet, I had internalized their beliefs on what a "good girl" should be. It's taken quite awhile for me to break those ideas into pieces in order to build a solid foundation of what works for me.
Flossie believes that one of the best elements of the relationship she shares with her partner is that he believes the only unattractive thing she could ever do would be to not believe in herself and her worth. His attraction to her is not based upon any physical trait, nor is it dependent upon the clothes she wears or how she does her hair. Rather, he loves her for her inward beauty, which begins with how she feels about herself. It caused me to remember how, shortly after my beau and I started dating, I bumped into a friend who was almost taken aback at how my energy was simply beaming. Our greatest allure is not in what we say or how we act or what we look like, but it's about what's happening deep within our hearts and Spirits. This is where each of our unique beauty lies, the essence of who we are, the je ne sais quoi of our character that is harder to describe in words, yet undeniable to experience with emotion.
I believe in cultivating our uniqueness, to be free and liberated from living according to outside programming of what beauty "should" be. During my eating disorder therapy program, we learned that it's important to banish the word "should" from our vocabulary — it only makes us feel badly that we're underperforming somehow and we end up "should-ing" all over ourselves. We are a new generation of beautiful human beings who can live free to be what we would like "gorgeous" to be! And, rather than jumping on a criticism bandwagon to tear other people down in order for us to feel better about ourselves, why not help uplift one another to be the most authentic, genuine, and Divine person we can be?
Everyone deserves to celebrate everything about themselves. For me, I'd like to embrace and enjoy the gifts I was blessed with — my intelligence, creativity, exuberance, playfulness, dorky nature, and especially, my sexuality. We live in a culture that makes sex taboo, yet it's constantly in our face, so all we end up focusing on are the guilty pleasures of what we've told ourselves we shouldn't have. Plus, as an Asian-American, we rarely ever any talk about sex or sensuality unless it's in reference to men who have fetishes or China-doll stereotypes. If my parents ever brought up anything to do with intimacy, it was to forewarn us that we should never-ever-ever think about doing it, lest we become a slut. Mix in various spiritual beliefs that espouse how purity lies in abstinence, and how is anyone ever supposed to feel good under the covers? Sensuality, in all its definitions, can be an incredibly opening experience.
I like finding a path that works for me, one where I am discriminately picking and choosing what resonates with my heart. I like being in the mystery of the unfolding, and then sharing these incredible experiences with others. I trust myself enough to ask insightful questions to selective people, and am open to the response. And, as I do so, perhaps I can help illuminate different facets of the journey for others. It's also nice to find that other iconic figures, even Hafiz, challenge what's always been accepted for something even better.
In his poem, Tiny Gods, he shares:
gods say, the tiny ones,
"I am not here in your vibrant, moist lips
that need to beach themselves upon the golden shore
of a naked body."
Some gods say, "I am not the scared yearning in the unrequited soul;
I am not the blushing cheek of every star and planet —
I am not the applauding Creator of those precious secretions that
can distill the whole mind into a perfect wincing jewel
if only for a moment;
nor do I reside in every pile of sweet warm dung born
of the earth's gratuity."
Some gods say, the ones we need to hang,
"Your mouth is not designed to know His, love was not conceived
to consume the luminous realms."
Dear ones beware,
beware of the tiny gods frightened men
to bring an anesthetic control and relief
to their sad
I like becoming the woman I have always wanted to be. At the end of my life, I want to have lived my days thoroughly and worn every opportunity presented before me until my experiences resemble the tattered and frayed ends of a well-worn and favorite piece of clothing.
What are beliefs that you're currently challenging? How are you learning to embrace all of yourself? What does beauty mean to you?