You’ve probably heard of the study with kids and a playground. They sent a group of kids and their teacher to a park with no fence around it, and the kids clumped around their teacher, barely leaving her side. Then they sent them to a park with a fence and the kids used up the entire space, feeling free to roam and explore because they had the fence to keep them in and bad things out.
A fancy term for this? Containment. And it’s something that we need, even as adults, to explore and experience new, edgy, scary, and otherwise potentially risky things…
Even with all of my knowledge, expertise, and experience, admitting my feelings of inadequacy was not easy. Finding the courage to speak to my feelings, as uncomfortable as they were and as stupid as I felt, shifted everything. In an instant, the wall between us crumbled and we were actually able to see one another clearly, and find our way into connection and pleasure together.
At the beginning of the year, I set an intention to work with and come to understand my hypermobility. I thought this would mostly have to do with my physical body, my overly flexible joints leading to overall instability and chronic pain, and all the possible ways to tighten things up to bring relief. I could not have been more wrong. This pattern is deep, and it incorporates my entire being and way of being in the world.
On the Winter Solstice, I committed to 100 consecutive days of self-pleasuring. I invited people to join me, offering them guidance and community, and proclaimed that I was going to share my process daily.
100 days (and then some) have come and gone, and here’s the truth: this experiment didn’t go exactly as I planned.
As I read and re-read this comment, “Ewwwww that is disgusting! Get a life… social media is not the spot!” rather than all of the positive feedback swallowing this negative one, I feel something deep inside of my body shrink, shrivel, and contract. It feels like someone punched me in the gut and I’m doubled over, hanging my head, embarrassed, ashamed, and hiding my tears. And then the anxiety sets in, and the fear. It grips my belly and my chest, then my throat. I’ve done something wrong and I’m going to get into trouble, it says.
You don't have to be Casanova, throwing your cape around, making extravagant movements with a flourish. Just move a little to the left, and see what happens. It's easy to get overwhelmed here and give up. Take baby steps. The best gymnasts in the world don’t learn a full-twisting-double-back in one day. They don’t even learn it in a year! It’s a years-long process that takes dedication and practice.
In a world where facts are disregarded; where questionable, often fake news is swallowed whole by the President himself, and credible news is accused of being fake; where there is little agreement on what the most pressing concerns are; and where we seem to be more interested in ranting and raving on social media than in hearing the perspectives of our opponents, leading to exponentially increasing divisiveness, how to we get to the root of it all and enact real, lasting, meaningful change?
Instead, a strand of grief winds intimately around one of pleasure forming a single indistinguishable thread that becomes a part of the fabric of my being.
For a caterpillar to become a moth, it must literally digest itself. It eats and eats until one day it’s time to build its cocoon. Once inside, our caterpillar friend liquifies. L i q u i f i e s. Every cell – except for a few imaginal cells that hold the information needed to create wings, antennae, body, brain (we’ll get back to these later) – surrenders to the process; dying to the life and purpose it knew in order to fuel the form to come.
In my body-heart-mind, this whole-hearted engagement feels like the path to redemption. Maybe it’s too simple, naïve and innocent, but maybe, just maybe, living fully and completely into who we are in each and every moment is redemptive in and of itself.