eros and psyche

i was led to rodin’s drawings this morning, line sketches and barely-there watercolor washes of women, eroticism transparent. i was also led to an interview with a well- respected teacher of mindfulness meditation,  eroticism less apparent.

this is no indictment upon the teacher, i have found her work to be profoundly meaningful, deeply healing and transformative, in my life.  i am also not at all addressing her physicality, sexuality or even sensuality when i state that i found her eroticism less apparent.  in truth, i find her to be quite beautiful, alive, and present.  i simply found the contrast  to be remarkable.

perhaps it is my artist’s soul, but i WANT to feel the things i feel when i enter into rodin’s sketches.  i want to feel the yearning and the heartache,  the joy and sorrow, the profound bliss and deep despair.  i want to trust my body…when it signals hunger or desire or need for fulfillment, to follow its erotic impulses that lead me to my own creativity.  i want to trust my sensuality and my sexuality.  i want to be a soul-embodied, or as a new friend named me ‘earthy and birthy’.

i suppose there is a subtle difference between being fully human, fully feeling, and believing that my feelings are all of who i am, being swept away and into them and making of them my identity. however, i want to feel and to follow the things that draw me, not merely observe them and let them pass. i want to feel the fire and the light, to recognize what matters most when it comes to me  as a scream or a whisper from the depths of my being. i want to trust the eroticism implicit in life, which compels connection and movement of some sort, the subtle movements of say delight or disappointment and the grander ones of ecstasy and grief.

i expect the difference between being a slave to my emotions and being free to listen to and engage them is one of awareness (or mindfulness, as the teacher would say).  as such, i am conscious of, and choosing to trust that, attending to my yearnings is not a departure from the sacred, but a movement with Her. i imagine this is like the difference between taking the dog for a walk, and the dog taking me.  turtle woman might call this,’ taking my Home along with me’, while yesterday’s mandorla would beckon me to keep my roots in ‘All is well’ even as the yearning-to-express human (of the earth)  part of me  is propelled into life, impelled by some urgent tender longing to become, which rises from within the depths of my being in god.  it feels ironic to me that i think of this as keeping my spirit grounded  in sacred awareness as my human soul receives permission to follow its heart, while those who tend toward ecstasies that keep them ‘above’ the pain and suffering of earth might be  invited to ground themselves in their humanity. but, you know, even if i am at times dragged willy-nilly and out-of-control (thank god!) i still trust that the journey is holy and good. sometimes i think all of our striving to control our thoughts and see through the illusion of life, is just that, an illusion of control and a rejection of life. and sometimes my meditation practice can serve as an escape from life rather than a catalyst to engage it more fully.

i want more passion than that.

although it’s never explicitly stated, and so is perhaps my own judgment projected, my experience in so many meditative and contemplative prayer-forms is that there exists a not-so-subtle judgment of feelings and desires. i am told to notice them, but not to follow them, and then let them go, as if the longings that course through my body are not real, or worthy of my attention.  for one such as me, who spent the first half of her life numbing her feelings in order to survive, this can be unhealthy. i know, i know, awareness is the opposite of numbing, but a third way of welcoming my humanity seems to honor the whole of who i am much more than either pole of dissociating my Self from my feelings does.  nonjudgment of my feelings (fear not) allows me to be fully present with and to embrace my yearnings and sorrows without giving them power over me, but instead allows them to awaken me.  if i do not judge any feeling as unwelcome, or wrong, i need not fear where it will take me.  likewise, if i don’t attach my ability to experience the sacred wtihin life to either the fulfillment or the relief of my desire, but rather trust in the presence of something sacred right in the midst of my longing, i will not experience my longing as suffering, but as aliveness.

so many times i hear the call to get out of my head, to stop following the monkey mind, etc, but i wonder if many practices do not also lead me to using my mind to get out of my body… and away from my yearnings.  could this be, taken by some, simply a new bent on hatred of the flesh that has plagued our religions for centuries? yet one more mind-body split?

i do not want to escape my body, disconnected from “the desire that springs a ‘yes’ …or even a ‘no’….within me”.  i trust that there is some very good reason that i am a spiritual being inhabiting a human body,  some reason spirit chooses to become sensual flesh.  i want to be intimate with this sensual world with all of my own senses fully present.  i WANT to be a soul-embodied, to follow the call of something wild and natural in me, to be humble (of the earth, not above it all), madly in Love with life, and to trust that it is good. i want to be alive.

The secret of being in love, of falling in love with life as it is meant to be, is to befriend our yearning instead of avoiding it, to live into our longing rather than trying to resolve it, to enter the spaciousness of our emptiness instead of trying to fill it up. ~ Gerald May

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