Wednesday, March 10, 2010
EmBody Talk: Mystical Mommy, Lisa Erickson
(For an explanation of this interview series, go here.)
Lisa Erickson writes the awesome and always thorough blog, Mommy Mystic. I love, in particular, some unique thinking and writing she does around the Chakras, the lower three being particularly relevant to this interview series and the issues that arise around our relationship to our body.
What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?
The first one that pops into my mind is not really a positive one, but one about facing vulnerability for me and learning to take care of myself. About 6 weeks after giving birth to my first child, I had a severe gall bladder and pancreatitis attack and had to have emergency gall bladder surgery. Then I had a severe reaction to some antibiotics I was given and had to be readmitted to the hospital (on Christmas Eve!) It took several months for me to get my health back, and the entire time, I was dealing with being a new mother, which for me (like for many women), came as quite a shock to my body and energy all on its own.
Up until that point, I had not been sick in many years, and I had always been able to 'count on' my body. I had danced growing up, and then studied martial arts very seriously, combined with some yoga, and was an avid back-country hiker. I was used to pushing through physical challenges. I had had a pretty smooth pregnancy and birth. So this sudden collapse of my health - I took it very personally in some way. I thought I was doing something wrong. I felt betrayed by my body, and angry with it.
Now I look back on that time, and see it was just part of a larger transition for me, part of learning to adapt to the energetic bonds of motherhood, and a much needed lesson on taking care of myself. I needed to learn how to balance my own needs with those of my family and others in my life. Ironically, I had already been doing chakra meditation for many years, and balance is one of the major themes of working with them, but I had lost sight of that lesson for myself. As someone recently said to me, "We teach what we most need to learn."
Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?
In general, no. I do have a scale and may pop on it occasionally, but overall I no longer relate to my weight through numbers on a scale. That took some time, though. Since I did study dance quite seriously when I was young, I was pretty obsessed with the scale at one point. And I have balked at times during the last few years as I have seen my body begin to sag and paunch. I have never quite taken off all my baby weight, and I would like to, or at least some of it. But I'm not willing to get into a 'diet' mentality to do it. Like for many people, it just never works for me. So I am trying to focus on health rather than weight, on my body as a wonderful vehicle for so many things I love, rather than on what it looks like.
How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)? How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?
Well, this question really made me think, because I am a lazy dresser and therefore a lazy shopper. I tend to just grab things that have fit before in the same size, rather than actually doing the dressing room thing. I could say I am just unconcerned with my appearance because I have bigger things on my mind, but that is not completely honest. The truth is, I don't really like seeing how I look these days in certain clothes, so I avoid it. This is something I would like to work on. I would like to indulge in some clothes that I truly love, that fit my body now, and completely let go of any lingering comparisons I have to my past body or a media-based image.
What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)
I did have unattainable weight and size goals for myself at one point. I think I have finally accepted that I am never going to be the weight or size I was at 25, and that is OK! I have also accepted that I do love sweets, and coffee, and chocolate, and wine, and that banning them entirely from my diet is never going to work for me (all of which I have tried.) So I am focused on balance - filling my diet with lots of healthy foods that I love, but not banning any foods outright.
When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?
Three things popped into my mind when I read these questions: dancing, pregnancy and meditation. First off, I love to dance, although these days it is mostly around my house:-) And for the most part, I was fortunate to have good pregnancy experiences - I had my share of annoying symptoms but nothing too uncomfortable. Overall, I was awed by what the female body can do, and pregnancy really changed my relationship with my body in a positive way.
And finally, meditation, especially chakra meditation - this is probably my main doorway into my joy, my bliss. I relate to things vibrationally, and for me, exploring energy studies and meditation have helped me integrate the physical/emotional/mental/spiritual aspects of being human in a profound way. I love feeling my body vibrating with joy. I don't really know how else to describe it.
What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?
Sun salutations! Although I didn't list yoga in the last question, it is a critical part of my life. And I love a good sun salutation series. There is nothing like it for me, in terms of releasing and expanding. And hiking in nature. I walk in nature regularly, and sometimes, I just really need a good long hike to clear out. There is nothing else like that, either.
What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?
I think it goes back to that idea of physical/emotional/mental/spiritual integration, and that everything is vibration. Lately, I am very into mandalas, and the idea of our body as a mandala, our lives as mandalas. I think of mandalas as the structures through which we experience everything, including our so-called 'highest' spiritual insights. So this is what I am exploring, my body and life as mandalas, and that is the story that is unfolding for me.
Oh! I love that idea of the body as a mandala -- a container for the experiences that are our lives. Beautiful, Lisa!
I wonder in what ways that could change how we think of our bodies? Any ideas out there?