I’ve been re-reading Tricia Hersey’s recent book Rest Is Resistance: A Manifesto, and loving her emphasis on Womanist and Black liberation theologies.
This line jumped out at me today.
It’s a version of something I often say in yoga class: Remember that you are your own best teacher, and you know your body better than anyone else. So take what I say with a grain of salt, and trust your own deep knowing as you move through your practice.
Did you grow up learning this sense of embodied trust in your own faith tradition? Reclaiming it can be super hard for those of us who didn’t. (Ahem, Christianity.)
But that’s why I love the yogic (and Black Womanist, and ecofeminist) traditions. They cultivate that sense of inherent bodily goodness; of radical wholeness; of the fact that our bodies are wise and holy and strong, just as they are.
Grateful for theologians like Hersey who are spreading this powerful wisdom on a global scale.
My favorite mantra of the last few years. We can thank Taoism for this one.
Be like water.
Go with the flow.
Don’t get attached to one place, or state.
When you bump into something hard (say, a rock mid-river) stay malleable, take a deep breath, and just flow amiably around it.
Pour your whole self into the space you’re in, whatever the size.
Shapeshift to suit the season (ice, water, steam) — but always stay elementally the same.
Bend, don’t break.
Rinse off the dust.
Nurture the living.
Stay close to things that grow.
There’s a great new series of interviews this week on parenting (and re-parenting ourselves) with clinical psychologist @drbeckyatgoodinside over on Glennon Doyle’s podcast. I listened and nodded my head throughout.
For anyone who’s interested in raising well-adjusted children who don’t have to unlearn toxic theology later on, it’s full of gems.
When you were a little kid growing up in the church, did you learn that you were broken and a sinner? Destined to be separate from God because you kept falling short? Yeah, that’s lots of us. Hashtag #christianity. Even with very loving and well-intended parents, toxic Christian theology subtly infused the idea that we were naturally depraved, our flesh was sinful, and our desires were not to be trusted.
I love Dr. Becky‘s core emphasis that children are naturally GOOD, and we should treat them as though they are good inside, even when they’re having a hard time (aka what some people like to call “misbehaving” — btw, I hate this word.). The same assumption of goodness goes for you and me, and even that co-worker who drives you mad, or the ex who broke your heart.
This spirit, of course, aligns with the fundamental Buddhist notion of basic goodness. And, as Glennon mentions in the interview, it completely contradicts the Christian notion of original sin many of us church kids have had to unlearn over the years.
Give it a listen. I’m a big fan of this wholehearted parenting approach and love how it dovetails with Buddhist and yoga philosophy.
It’s all connected, folks.
Wash the dishes, fold the laundry, clean the toilets, make the bed: all of those unsexy, stereotypically “women’s work” kinds of household chores. Ugh, right?
Well, Zen Buddhism says: f*ck yeah!! Scrub the toilets! That’s what it’s all about!! Enlightenment is never anywhere but right here, in our breathing, heaving, sweating, scrubbing bodies.
These menial tasks can be a pain in the ass, or they can be moving meditations. You decide.
Most importantly: our bodies are central to the whole deal. White patriarchal Christianity encourages us to leave them by the wayside. Don’t.
Let these Zen perspectives remind you that embodiment resides at the heart of everything holy — where everything sacred begins.
Since it’s a Sunday morning, and many of us who grew up Christian spent countless Sunday mornings confessing our sin, brokenness, and inadequacy — over and over, week after week…
How do you think repeating creeds and prayers about your inherent sinfulness affected your sense of self as a tiny, growing human?
Whose power did it preserve for you to grow up convinced that you were broken, fundamentally sinful, and inadequate without a “Savior”?
And whom might it benefit for you to grovel about your worthlessness and powerlessness from the pews every week?
Time to rewrite the story, in our bones.
Maybe, just maybe, there’s actually nothing deeply wrong with you.
What if you were whole, and wise, and powerful to begin with?
Let’s recite a new creed, and weave it into our bodies, with every awakened breath.
You are good.
You are wise.
You are whole.
Nice to see all your #internationalwomensday posts yesterday, and also frustrating, because: really?? One day?!
One woman who’s been inspiring me lately is Potawatomi scientist, professor, and author Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer. I spent the depths of bitterly cold January listening to countless interviews with her sharing wisdom on botany, spirituality, ecology, and how her Native heritage weaves throughout her work. (Do read her popular book Braiding Sweetgrass if you haven’t already.)
She spoke these words in one interview and they struck me. I don’t know about you, but the very strong messages I received as a good little overachieving Christian girl were that I should be above all nice, positive, smiling, self-effacing, and SMALL. Definitely never daring to take up space with my body, my opinions, or my work.
Two degrees in feminist theory and 40 years later, I still have to consciously unlearn those early messages when I’m sharing my work. It still makes my heart race to publish something that I know will set someone off. And this, even after decades of unlearning that “good little Christian girl” mentality.
So know your gifts. Really f’ing KNOW them. Own them. Speak them. Share them. Don’t stay quiet and keep them hidden just to please other people, or to avoid being too much.
BE EFFEN TOO MUCH.
The people who can handle it will stick around, and join in cheering you on.