Bodies, Bellies, and Imperfection

"Nuestra Madre, La Tierra" by Alfred Kubin

Mother-of-us-all prays to free us
from our image of perfection
to which so much suffering clings.

When in the shadowy mind
we imagine ourselves imperfectly,
praying to be freed from gravity
by enlightenment, she refines our prayers.

Putting her arms around us
she bids us rest our head on her shoulder
whispering, Don’t you know
with all your fear and anger
all you are fit for is love.

Mother of Us All | Stephen Levine
“Nuestra Madre, La Tierra” | Alfred Kubin

 

Last night I had the pleasure of attending a talk hosted by the Jung Society of Utah, featuring Erin Geesaman Rabke and Carl Rabke, embodied life and Feldenkrais practitioners here where I live.

Their talk was titled, The Wisdom in the Wilderness of Your Body, and during the evening they shared a variety of inspirations and practices for embodied living.

As Erin and Carl would say, there was much richness to be harvested, and I’ll be coming back to those moments again and again, but for now, there are two moments in particular that resonated deeply with me that I’d like to share:

The first is about perfectionism:

At one point, Erin recited the poem above by Stephen Levine, recently deceased author and teacher, whose work especially focuses on death, dying, and grief.

As she did, her gaze moved throughout the room, and when she said, “perfection to which so much suffering clings” she looked right at me. Directly, in the eyes.

She might not recall that moment, but everything stopped for me.

I can’t quite describe it in words, but in that moment I gasped, froze, and then sighed and sank into my seat.

She and Carl had been encouraging us to be aware of our bodies, our felt sense, throughout the night, and in this moment, my body recognized a truth I needed to be reminded of; perfectionism can be poisonous.

This is a lesson I have heard time and time again. And I heard and felt it in a new way last night.

What a gift, to offer those around us permission to be imperfect, to recognize that the universe does not expect that from us either. What a tremendous relief.

So right now in this moment, I encourage you to read Stephen’s words again, aloud even, and really notice how it feels in your body to listen to those lines. Can you relaaaaaaaax into the permission being offered? It’s definitely worth a try.

The second is about the pelvis and the belly:

Erin is a tall, strong woman. As I watched her on stage, her legs were supple tree trunks beneath her, holding her steady. Her hips and belly a chalice of potentiality. When talking about her belly at one point, she took her hand and gripped it, allowing her fingers to sink into her flesh, through her dress. And the image of her before me, gripped me.

I hear a lot of talk about how important it is to love the belly, but I don’t see a lot of people actually loving theirs. The simple act of holding her belly, of acknowledging her body without shame, and with gentle reverence – this gesture of love, made me so happy I nearly cried.

She went on to talk about a meditation teacher of hers who said that ideally, 70% of our life force would reside in the belly, the abdomen, with the rest distributed among our head, chest, and limbs. That this is how we can be grounded in reality, on this earth.

Most of us don’t live that way, our energy tends to concentrate in our heads, disconnected from the body. And hearing her put it this way made so much sense.

In my work with menstruation, I have long had a sense that when we are in touch and in relationship with our cycling bodies, with our wombs (if we have them), and our energetic womb centres (regardless of anatomy) that this is the foundation which all the rest of our lives can be built upon.

And this has been my experience – that more attention, and intention – results in more connection, greater potential.

It was beautiful to see that very knowing reflected in Erin and Carl. And a soothing balm to witness a couple so in love with one another and their shared work.

If you are local – and even if you’re not – I highly encourage you to explore the gifts Erin and Carl have to offer.

Finally, the image I’ve shared at the top brought everything together for me today. In searching for art to go along with Mother of Us All, I found this painting by Alfred Kubin, entitled “Nuestra Madre, La Tierra” (Our Mother, the Earth).

Just look at her belly. See how much of her life force resides there? There’s so much more to explore here, the power and potency of the belly, of the generative space we hold in our pelvis, of the chalice of creation that resides within.

For now, I’m content to let the symbolism diffuse throughout my knowing and feeling, through my mind and body.

My invitation to you is to do the same: as you dive into tonight’s Dark Moon, allow yourself the gift of imperfection, and find a true sense of yourself that resides in your belly (and womb).

 

 

Giuliana

 

 
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Giuliana Serena

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