Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Temple In Which She Dwells

Here is an old-fashioned feminist poem, straight from the bra-burning seventies:


The hardness
with which you still hate
your body

is a kiss for the fathers.

Now, the Matron isn't wagging her finger at men, but she's feels deep affinity with the lines "the hardness with which you still hate your body." She knows very few women who aren't actively sucking in a stomach or dressing to hide some thighs.

So she takes the first stanza of that poem and pits it against the Christian concept of the body as a temple, infused with Spirit and something to be cherished.

She takes that first stanza and pits it against the Buddhist concept of loving kindness. which requires first and foremost a full and unjudging acceptance of what's in front of you -- even if that's a pair of marshmallow textured breasts with acorn nipples.

She takes that first stanza and pits it against everything she hopes for her daughter. An embodied joyful existence.

Buddhism reminds us of how easily we cling to our misconceptions and judgements. It's hard to let go of hating if hating is a long time practice that constitutes the self.

Hate your hair, face, breasts, bottom, toe nails, tummy?

Last week when the Matron practiced loving kindness, she was startled by how little of that impulse was left over for to herself. Indeed, she leans a bit toward the battle of the flesh bent.

But today, she has decided to move into a temple. The battlefield is getting a little stale. She can't change the chaos around her or right the world's woes. No. But every time she has a judgemental thought about her aging maternal body, she can immediately replace that thought with this: Thank you.


Mary Alice said...


Mary Alice said...

Your post that is. Perfection. The ideas. Not my breasts. But I will love them unconditionally!

MJ said...

Hear, hear!

I don't know how it is that we develop such a disdain for our bodies but it is evident, even in our language. I think it is the Western separation of mind and body and Western perspective that the mind is superior to the bod and that the body is a thing. (For example, we refer to our breasts/limbs as "they" or "it". How can you tell I'm reading, "Eastern Mind, Western Body?")

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

This is really jibing with the book I'm reading--Listen Up: Voices from the New Feminist Generation. The body hating thing is almost subconscious for many of us.

Susan said...

I fuss and fume and buy new clothes when I a going away or doing something new - but then when the occasion occurs, I can let it go. I can go to the beach or the reunion and not be a self hater. I think that is why people say "I don't think of you as fat" and I weigh upwards of 250.

@evitchka said...

Believe it or not I love my body more now (aged 62) than I did when young. The battle now is neck wrinkles. They are hard to love! You NEVER see a front mag cover of a woman with a wrinkly neck!I wear a lot of feathery things and scarves. I would love to hear from a woman who likes her old neck. I need a role model like that!

Suburban Correspondent said...

So hard to do...

Anonymous said...

This is such an old, ingrained struggle for me. I'd love to be completely accepting about my body. I don't know if it's possible.

thefirecat said...

Love. It. Please tattoo this to my widening belly some day when I really need it.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

So? My word verification is lushness.

Now I've gone and forgotten what my original comment was to be because "lushness" is so much better.

. . .

And then? I typed it in wrong. So now? I'm back to type in the new word (and wish me luck): ferstski