I will admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the Wonder Woman movie featuring Gal Gadot. I loved watching a super-goddess with powers of courage, strength and age defying perfection on the big screen. It makes a change from the usual hollywood male dominated super heroes anyway. In fact, I went to see it with a bunch of my good girlfriends last year and we came straight home from the cinema and raided the kids dressing up box and used the trampoline for good levity resulting in the above photo!!
It was a hilarious afternoon with Karla and I channeling our inner Wonder Women, having a laugh and feeling a sense of vitality. However as a mere mortal living in the doldrums of an everyday modern family life, I often become identified with the very opposite of these superpowers such as the feeling of being imperfect, disconnected, time-bound, contracted and incomplete. Ironically one way this self-aversion is fuelled is by the media’s continual bombardment and portrayal of perfect lives and bodies.
Whether it’s Hollywood, Instagram or Women’s magazines, we cannot get away from messages that tell us we need to look, act and be a certain way. We live in a culture that values youth, competition and success. Definitely not, women who are ageing, hairy and various shapes and sizes and pee themselves when they jump too many times on a trampoline…
Many of my friends as well as those I meet through teaching yoga and running retreats and women’s circles have shared with me their feelings of uncertainty, deficiency and lack of self-worth. There seems to be a gap between who we are and who we think we should be. It’s an epidemic of negative self-talk on a variation of:
“There’s something wrong with me”,
“I’m not good enough”,
“I need to know more”
“I need to be more”…etc.
All of this cultivates a struggling mindset that leads to feeling a disconnected feeling of being separate. For me, it’s these feelings of ‘lack’ that have driven me towards Yoga and a path of self-discovery. And it’s been an amazing journey of building vitality, strength and discipline but then given way to being curious, vulnerable, and developing self-compassion and love. I learnt to stop striving in the yoga postures some time ago, resulting in a much softer practice that prioritises a kind, somatic felt sense of my body rather than the sweaty striving of my earlier days.
A strong practice can help to give us the feeling of great fortitude and positive changes in our bodies but over time the practice becomes more subtle. I’m still disciplined, but more around showing up for myself and being present rather than getting through some sequence or list or achieving another backbend or arm balance. After establishing a healthy relationship with my physical body and an awareness of breath and energy regulation I began to confront the more subtle koshic layers. This has enabled me to welcome emotions and look at my beliefs and has taken me on a deeper kind of practice and self-study.
I have come to understand that an authentic Yoga practice guides me not towards perfection but Wholeness. This understanding has arisen through the non-dual teachings and practice of iRest.
When we learn to embrace and welcome everything that is coming our way, be it our superhero qualities or our mortal aspects of ageing, imperfection, anxiety, a health challenge, a difficult relationship, or an unwanted guest of any kind we begin to ease into a vital conversation with ourselves. In the non-dual Tantric tradition there are 5 main ways that we move away from the truth of our Wholeness and they are known as the Kanchukas or as my teacher, Richard Miller, calls them ‘The Pointer Sisters’.
When we really befriend and welcome these negative beliefs and feelings, their opposites co-arise and reveal an experience of ourselves as vast, unbounded perfection. We can tap into this when we remember the felt sense of what it’s like when we’ve stepped out of a place of striving and grasping and tune into a simple sense of ‘Being’. Like the feeling you might get when there’s nothing imminent to do, when everything is ticked on the ‘to do’ list and you have a moment before taking on a new project or the next task and you just sit down in a favourite chair with a cup of your favourite warm beverage.
- Imagine that experience of just sitting there for a moment.
- Tune in and get a felt sense of “nothing to do”….
- In that moment of simply being is there anything lacking????
When we contrast the 5 ‘Pointer Sisters’ or Kanchukas with the felt sense of just ‘Being’ their opposites arise, so:
- When the belief or feeling of being Contracted arises, ask: When I’m simply Being, where am I? Spaciousness may be revealed.
- When the belief or feeling of being Timebound arises, ask: When I’m simply Being, when am I? Timelessness may be revealed.
- When the belief or feeling of being Lacking arises, ask: When I’m simply Being, what am I? Perfection may be revealed.
- When the belief or feeling of being Confusion arises, ask: When I’m simply Being, why am I? Clarity and Completion may be revealed.
- When the belief or feeling of being Separate arises, ask – > When I’m simply Being who am I? Wholeness may be revealed.
It’s through the non-dual Tantric teachings that we can give up trying so hard, settle into the ground of Being and allow the understanding to arise that our True Nature is that we are all Wonderwomen and Supermen – timeless, whole and perfect just as we are.
Audio meditation coming soon….