Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Courage to Take Care of Yourself

 Women!  What does a woman want?!  Some old sexist said that, and it's been picked up a lot by men who like to aggrandize themselves by sighing at our frivolity.  

If you want to know what women want, pick up a magazine while you're waiting for a diagnostic mammogram.  All they have are "women's magazines," but they're not for women - they're for eternal girls.  You'll see cover articles promising youth and beauty and great sex and how to fit yourself properly in $100 jeans.  And oh yes, skin care.  Skin care is - a spiritual matter.

Being desired on the basis of our looks isn't really what we want, is it?  We want to love and be loved.  We want to be esteemed.  We want to actualize ourselves, to be who we are and give our gifts to the world.  God knows we want a better world for the kids we love, a world without war.  But Revlon and Clinique and many other wealthy companies want you to think their "skin care" will bring you happiness.  (Click here for an intelligent article on a sneaky beauty campaign.)

I got into thinking about all this just last night, propped up with my iPad (gift of a wonderful daughter with a scientific mind, who earns decent money!) when I read an interview with a wise old woman who runs an interesting-sounding Zen Center called Goat-in-the-Road.  Here's an excerpt.
Yvonne Rand
Q: And how do you feel when you look at yourself and see yourself change?

Yvonne Rand: Well, I use that as the occasion for returning to [the fact that] everything changes, nothing remains the same, including skin. I mean, I've actually done meditations on hair, nails, and sagging skin -- taking on as a focus for noticing change where I might want to turn away. Okay, for the next week or ten days I will bring my attention to standing in front of the mirror and noticing, bringing attention to oh, sagging, impermanence of the body. And I won't linger with that attention on sagging long enough to get caught with storytelling about it. I'll notice and come back to the present moment by bringing attention to the alignment of the head, heart center and hara, and the breath.

The storytelling will occur.  I remember doing something like this when I was about 40 and had, by months of counting calories, lost 30 pounds I'd put on with antidepressants.  I never thought I'd have a different body than I'd had three years ago. I could fit into my white jeans, but I'd never look as good in them again. 

The story my mind went to was not, "I need liposuction."  I was a feminist, after all.  I saw the truth.  I was done for as an object of lust.  (Well, mostly.  I still got hit on by the occasional married man.)  I couldn't think of anything to do with my life now but keep writing.  

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