I have heard hundreds of confessions of sorrow by now. I have listened to thousands of stories of suffering. I have held in my very arms countless sisters and a few brothers as they wept and shared their feelings of utter unworthiness and despair. These confessions used to be only on my massage table where my clients lay both physically and emotionally naked and entirely vulnerable. Quite often the confessions of un-connectedness, loneliness and self-loathing come from my dance students. Lately the confessions have been in front of my camera. Women come into my studio with shaky legs, feeling uncertain if they made the right decision to have a photo shoot with me. They might not even know why they are there. My sisters often feel ashamed that they are having photographs taken of themselves, as if they are doing a sinful act to honor their authentic beauty. And most, at least 99.9%, are completely uncomfortable in their naked skin. Whether they are what our society defines as fat or thin, they ALL share the same learned story that most of us have chosen to believe: I am not good enough. I am not beautiful. I am not perfect.
When did we learn to be ashamed of our skin? When did it become uncomfortable to be in our own skin? When did we begin making our reality one of self-suffering and pain when examining our reflection in a mirror? When did we learn the definition of “ugly” and “beautiful”? Who gave us our definitions of “fat” and “thin”? Who was it that convinced us that we were not good enough? That we were not worthy of feeling “prefect”? Who told us that were were imperfect? Why did we choose to believe them?
There are people who have miraculously escaped form this belief system that was unconsciously and perhaps also consciously instilled into so many of us. There are others who have re-written the lies into beautiful new truths of authentic beauty that are free of self-suffering. There are those who still believe that humans could never be perfect. There are others of us who have to make it a daily, intentional practice to be free from pain and to rewrite the pain into a lesson of beauty. There are those of us that choose to see pain not as an ugly devil but instead as a sacred teacher that leads to even deeper perfection.
I once had a discussion with a scientist from the University of Arizona while on a backpacking trip in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. Under a crisp and clear night sky saturated with diamond-like constellations in Northern Arizona we discussed perfection. I had recently re-read for the billionth time “The Mastery of Love” by Don Miguel Ruiz. I was high on redefining how i saw the world! I was especially enamored with Don Miguel Ruiz’s theory on what he calls ”the biggest cop-out of our time”, that phrase: ”nobody’s perfect”. Like Ruiz, I believe we were born in perfection and we ARE perfect. My scientist friend had a wonderful point that IF we are naturally perfect, how could we strive and evolve and become BETTER? I didn’t see why I couldn’t be perfect right in that moment, evolve and learn and grow and dance and gather wisdom and still be perfect then too?
I mean, do we see a healthy beautiful baby born out of the vagina of another human and say, “Life is not perfect?” Do we question the perfection of the female body which can MAKE an entire human in her own body, including a human with the opposite hormones and genitalia, while she lives her usual, everyday life? Do we question the insane PERFECTION of the Himalayas, or the divine PERFECTION of the Amazon or the incredible perfection of a Sequoia tree? LIFE is all of those things and WE are also life, so how could we not be PERFECT too?
I am no master of thinking I am perfect. Lately I avoid the mirrors at all costs. I am 40 pounds heavier than I was 8 months ago and my booty has a shake of it’s own. I am one of the most OBSESSED people when it comes to the sacredness of a pregnant female body, yet I have to admit I feel large and awkward and puffy. Yet every morning, before my feet touch the ceramic floor of my bedroom, I practice my gratitude mediation. I am grateful for my baby’s hiccups in my belly! I am grateful I am snuggled beneath a down comforter. I am grateful that I have food in my kitchen and hot water in my bath. I am grateful that I am creating life and redefining pain! I am grateful that I have the opportunity to push a boy out of my body and have it feel perfect instead of painful. I am grateful for all of the perfection that surrounds me…
There are a lot of different answers to these questions and a lot of opinions, and yet all I know is that when I see myself as perfect, I no longer need to take things personally. I no longer need to compete with other photographers or dancers or massage therapists and I can be free of the need to be beautiful or ugly. I can just BE. I choose to bathe in gratitude and practice my gratitude mediation for all the small and big things in my life. I honestly BELIEVE in the perfection that we naturally are. I believe that life is far more of a magician than I, and I will never call Life’s creation’s imperfect! I no longer need to prove anything: I just enjoy being perfect me gazing at perfect you.