COMING HOME

20160517_210338When I was an adolescent I discovered what is still called “reason” and, in my innocence, I made the mind all powerful; I enthroned Reason as my God and commanded it to lead me to understanding and wisdom and a good life. I came to worship the mind and the mind drove me crazy. I had believed the lie that I was the intellect, that I was that voice in my head that told me, incessantly, the story of my life. I had identified with the “I” the mind created and, henceforth, the I-mind -as cruel and selfish and frightened as a five year old child- had become my torture chamber.

I had moved into the mind as one moves into an enchanted palace with dreams of happiness and love, success and recognition only to find that behind the gold trimmings and beautiful hallways lay unimaginable torture chambers, dark and sadistic beyond my worst nightmares.

By the time I was 25 –married and a mother of two- I began longing for a way to shut the I-mind up, to medicate it, meditate it, drug it or drink it into silence. Nothing seemed to work. I strapped it into religión, drank it into oblivion, lay it on Freudian couches and picked it apart to see if finally it could find the way to happiness; I put it through Gestalt and Fischer-Hoffman and Family Constellations and uncountable therapies so as to change its hell-bent intention to torture me to death. But the I-mind couldn’t do that: it couldn’t be silent, it couldn’t be happy, for it truly believed that then its worst fears would surely come to pass. The I-mind had been born in fear and arrogance, wrapped in powerlessness and the desperate need for control, nourished in anguish and want and the sense of never-enough, contorted with nightmarish scenes: it was a horror movie. When it didn’t get what it wanted it attacked everything and everybody including itself; when it got what it wanted, it was terrified of losing it or found it lacking still. Enough was never enough.

It took me years and years and more years to realize that in the process of identifying with the mind, I had forgotten the body; I had pushed it aside, denied its feelings, scared it to death with my thoughts, tortured it with my supposed needs, satiated it beyond belief with my insatiable wants. I had judged it, stuffed it, dieted it, exercised it, operated on it, dressed it, undressed it, but I had never really seen it, sat with it, listened to it or  held its hand. I had never inhabited it.

Yet as the I-mind raced painfully towards the past lamenting what had happened or missing what had gone before, and projected itself fearfully towards a terrifying or hopeful future, the body sat in the present and waited for me to come home. When I finally did, I found that the body is truthful: it cannot lie. It is constant: it cannot leave me. It is obedient: it has no opinion, it doesn’t care. It will live or die, whatever, without complaint; it doesn’t worry about anything. The body just is, as it waits for us to come home, always present, never judging, patient beyond all measure as it inhabits the IS.

Today I know that both are gifts and that I am neither. But I had misused the gift of the mind and abused the gift of the body forgetting that I was but their joyous receiver.

Today I am home where I want to be, living the privilege of this incredible body that has waited so long for me to descend from the frightening nether regions, from the flights and fights of the empowered I-mind and live in it. It is a brave body –this one I have been given- and a sturdy one that stood up under so many onslaughts of thought-produced horror. Its heart fills me with love as mind settles in the present and observes, becoming a loving instrument too, that serves me when -for instance- I want to write about my beloved body.

This morning as I walked home after coffee I felt my body wholly and, realizing that nothing hurt, took an extra turn around the block rejoicing in the pleasure of an effortless stroll. Neither a twinge in the ankle that is badly formed nor an ache in the hip that sometimes acts up interrupted my stream of pleasure. My body felt so light it seemed to glide over the earth and I walked in gratitude for its patience, its fortitude, its faithfulness; for the joy it gives me to finally sink down and feel it living and vibrant and innocent.20160625_135831

MY OWN TRUE LOVE

 

How-to-loveMeet my Best Friend and my own True Love. She is someone (or something) that has been with me from the moment of my conception and will continue with me until dust do us part. She is less than a heartbeat away and nearer than the breath that joins us. She has been there during every single experience, both conscious and unconscious, and she lets me know the instant anything goes wrong (when a finger gets too close to the fire or a toe meets a table leg, or my mind is conjuring up a terrifying nightmare).

She began minuscule and has progressed to what a normal sized human fema1942-2 Julian + Brianda are born21042014 (3)le should look like, and soon –if not already- she will begin the opposite process until once more becoming minuscule and disappearing. I know that you’ve guessed by now that I am talking about My Body. Hmmm, is it mine? Perhaps, in the sense that a rented car is ‘mine’ as long as I have the use of it and then goes back to being agency property when I am through. Therefore, it is my ‘Best Friend and own True Love’ 1943-1 Brianda 1 yr18042014on loan.

I have not always been friendly with My Body; as a matter of fact I have treated her downright awfully more times than I please to remember. I hated her when I was a little girl around 6 or 7 because she wouldn’t obey anyone: not me, not my mother, not my father and not even the doctor or the camp counsellor. Every night I would order her to stay dry till morning and every night she would wake me with a chilly puddle of pee under my bottom. I was six years old, for heaven’s sake! I hadn’t used diapers for years and suddenly I couldn’t spend the night at a friend’s house without her mother being told I would need a rubber sheet on my bed. It was humiliating! And there was nothing I could do about it. My Body had decided –for a reason that will always remain a mystery- to begin wetting the bed again and it seemed that nothing would make her stop. She wet the beds in all her friends’ houses; she wet the bed in summer camp1944-1 Poughkeepsie25042014 (2) (and was made to wash her own sheets); she wet the beds in every hotel she stayed in and even in her grandmother’s house when we slept over. My Body turned 7 and 8 and 9 and 10 and continued wetting the bed. We moved to Mexico and turned 11 and she still insisted on emptying her bladder as soon as deep sleep moved in.

And then the miracle happened: my mother found a doctor (more like a sadistic torturer, than a man of the medical profession) who said he could cure My Body of its insane obsession. He handed my mother a small square pad (about15ins x 15ins) crisscrossed with wires and connected to 1947-2 Minnie the cat and B's b'day02052014 (2)an alarm clock that would wake the dead, and a set of instructions of how to plug the whole thing into the lights in the room. That night My Body was introduced to its executioner. Of course, by that time she had been peeing in bed almost every night for about 5 years and I didn’t think there was anything that could stop her. We were both in for a surprise.

At the first DROP of urine, the wired pad went into action: it1951 -3 Brianda 9yrs gave My Body an electric shock that sprang her out of sleep and convinced her that if she continued in that direction she would be electrocuted; it set off the alarm that woke my parents in another bedroom and probably the neighbors, and all the lights in the room went on.

Needless to say, that happened twice and the problem was solved. My Body was headstrong but not stupid.

1951-3 Mexico (6)However, five years at the mercy of My Body’s shameless behavior had taught me not only a total mistrust of the traitor, but also that I was completely powerless over her: she was going to do what she was going to do whether I liked it or not. That meant future endless torture especially in my teen years: an oversized bottom half with an undersized top endowment; pimples always in very visible places and right when there was a big dance or party to be attended; a frame made for a taller woman thanks to one leg that insisted on growing faster and had to be stopped; a nose that in boarding school earned me the 1957 - 2 Acapulco and Xmas (3)nickname of Dome; a mother that was to me the most beautiful and perfect woman ever created; and a grandmother that said “round eyes, round nose, round face” every time she looked at me and, when I was 18, suggested I have my nose fixed (by that time I was arrogant enough to respond: “It gives me personality” and not do it).

Somewhere along that narrow and unblessed path, I convinced myself that I was not and never would be pretty, so I decided to be intelligent instead. Anyone who has read this blog knows 1960-2 Brianda's Graduation (2)where that led me and I am not going into it again!

So I grew up, got married and had children all the time thinking My Body was so far from attractive that she didn’t even deserve to have her pictures in the family albums; instead they went into a drawer where they stayed for as long as I was married, and during all the time my children were growing up and getting married themselves. It wasn’t until after my divorce, when I was living alone, that I discovered all those pictures from so long ago, and began to see just how attractive that Body had been before. It was then that I 1965-1 MANOLO ARRIVES IN MEXICO02052014 (3)realized that if I didn’t start appreciating the beauty that she did have, instead of thinking she should have a different kind of 1962 -3 Church weddingbeauty, more like her mother’s for instance, I would some day in the future look back and realize how attractive I had been at that moment. It was then I knew that I had to accept My Body for what it was and make the best of it.

That was the day all the photographs of My Body, from my teens up until the moment I had divorced, came out of the drawer. I taped them up all over my dressing-room doors and walls and under each photograph I put a quality I wanted to believe that Body had represented at some moment: friendliness, generosity, patience (very little), 2001 Aug 11 Brianda marries Fernando 217042014helpfulness, honesty, kindness, etc. And every day I would stand in my dressing-room contemplating the pictures of My Body and finding her more and more acceptable. I did not, however, love her.

It was Salomé who taught me that. I loved my little dog from the very start. It didn`t matter if she was clean or dirty, perfumed or smelling doggy, asleep or awake, interested or bored… I adored her; I loved every inch of her hairy little body, each perky ear, her black little nose and her white whiskers, and I could gaze forever into her deep black  eyes. And then one day while I was cuddling her (against her will, mind you, she hates to be cuddled) I suddenly found myself wondering why I didn’t Betty 90 años en cumpletreat My Body at least half as lovingly as I treated my dog’s body. How could I love her body and not mine, when her body never even looked for mine unless she wanted something, and mine had been at my beck and call every second of every day since the beginning of my time? I understood the injustice I had committed and I looked down at My Body for the first time with tenderness, the same kind of tenderness that Salomé’s body had awakened in me.

Suddenly I felt such gratitude to have a Body that had taken such a beating and still was healthy; a Body that never had any trouble sleeping, that had cooperated and lost weight under the strenuous diets I had subjected it too (gaining it back, of course, because I would then feed it all the stuff it didn’t need), a Body that needed so little medicine to be able to count the times I had taken aspirin… in other words a FANTASTIC Body! A Body worth living for, a Body worth loving.P1100838

So today, as I work on my 74th year, and My Body produces the normal aches and pains from use, I understand her, I treat her with love and respect, I give her the exercise she needs, the rest she needs, the love and fun she needs and, occasionally, the ice-cream she doesn’t need. And every time there is something new, an umpteenth wrinkle, a new ache, an uninvited roll around the waist, another vein that shows blue on the legs, a painful cramp in my toes, I think of Salomé and ask myself: Would I stop loving my little dog just because she was getting old? And such a wave of tenderness DSC_2566flows over me that I smile and hug My Body, and tell her that she’s doing fine, that we’re doing just fine.

And, now, seeing as the evening has drawn to a close, and my True Love is feeling a bit fatigued, and Salomé is already in her bed happily snoring away, I think I’ll end this contemplation here, and trot off to bed with my own Body. What a delight it is to sleep every night in the arms of my one True Love and Dear Friend who will be with me forever and ever, till dust do us part.

(The Featured Image: is taken com the Blog of Shirley Maya: shirleymaya.com)

MY BODY’S A DISASTER ZONE

In October of 2010, a month before moving to Salies, I threw my back out. I was at a ranch outside of Palma de Mallorca attending a workshop. Every morning, one of the participants would direct yoga exercises. Every time I assumed the flat-on-my-back-legs-stretched-out position, the thought that this was not good for my particular lumbar region would flash through my mind and I would ignore it. Continue reading