Going Soft

I’ve decided I don’t do well without a focus, and that apparently “fun” isn’t focus enough for me. I like fun, I just think I do better getting to it from a less direct path than pursuing it outright. More of a Benjamin Franklin approach than a John Adams approach (yes, I’m still watching the John Adams miniseries).

I’ve mentioned it before, but I think there are a lot of unhappinesses in my life that stem from too great a reliance on the “masculine” side of things. Not that intellect and a direct approach and a reliance on the mind is bad. It’s served me well for as long as I can remember. But it’s not balanced. And I think I’m missing out on a fullness in life by having the balance tilted too far over to that one side.

As a result, I’ve decided to focus on softness. I want to practice allowing myself to trust my intuition and my emotions. I want to practice forgiveness and love. I want to connect physically with others—especially my husband and children. I want to touch, to hug, to dance with my kids. Not that I don’t do those things already, I just do them more as an afterthought. I want those things to be part of the entree, not the dessert. I want to bring awareness to my body and how it’s feeling, rather than automatically pushing aside the sensations. I want to allow my body the freedom to move without being judged and controlled by my mind. This will make it necessary to Risk Looking Silly like a sonofagun. So I hope to take baby steps so as not to cause myself too much discomfort and perhaps cause me to scrap the whole plan.

I’m going to make time and space in my budget for body therapies (e.g., massage, facials, pedicures). I tend to view these as indulgent, and maybe they are. But I also think that I need those kinds of things right now to bring me into my body gently.

Yin yoga is another element I’d like to incorporate into my routine. I’ve done one yin yoga class (about three years ago) and two practices on a Paul Grilley DVD I checked out from the library (this past week). It’s a meditative practice that focuses on very gently deepening a pose and inviting openness in one’s body without aggressive movement. I tend to view yin yoga as a waste of time, but this is because I look at it as a type of exercise. If I look at it as exercise, it does fall a little short of other practices. But if I liberate it from the “fitness” label, I can see its value. I’ll stick with my DVDs for a while, the one I have from the library already and the one I’m going to pick up this weekend. Then I might try some of the yin classes at local yoga studios.

And then the same thing I’ve been doing: just breathing and bringing awareness to the moment.

There are other things I’ve considered adding, like music (singing or playing an instrument, especially) and dance, things that allow me to feel music throughout my body. But those things require a little more emotional effort and bravery on my part. I’ll save those for after I’m comfortable with my less scary pursuits.

And I recognize that this list-making and written planning is “masculine.” I’m not scrapping all of that kind of thing. I’m not sure I could function in society if I scrapped it all. I’m just trying to tip the balance a tad more towards the feminine.

Part of what pushed me over to wanting to add more feminine elements to my life was the recognition of how I use my birth experience with my son as a kind of emotional talisman. I instinctively reject the ra-ra, “I birthed a 9-pound baby in a tub in my living room; I rock!” kind of things around the experience, which is a more masculine reaction.

Birthing my son was an exercise in letting go and trusting my body and allowing myself to feel the love those around me were offering. The fact that I think of it when I feel a need to protect myself leads me to believe that I have a craving for more of that kind of vulnerability, scary as that might be. Upon reflection, his birth was a totally feminine experience. (This would seem to be a given when talking about birth, but birth in the US is often much more masculine than it is feminine. Giving birth to my daughter in a highly-managed hospital situation, it was anything but “feminine.”) Birthing my son involved bringing my awareness to my body and bringing myself out of my brain. It involved relinquishing conscious control and trusting myself, the process, and those around me. It involved vocalization and the physical sensation of the water in the birth tub. And it involved physical touch, both from my doula and from my husband, especially when he climbed in the tub with me and supported me while my body pushed our son out.

My husband sometimes jokes with me that I can relate anything back to birth. But really, isn’t that where everything starts? I’m just incredibly grateful to have this kind of experience to use as a model for embracing feminine energy.

2 Replies to “Going Soft”

  1. Ten days in and you already have given up on having fun? We just became friends with someone that has more fun than anyone I’ve ever met. He’s awesome, so much so that Tucker and I have had a full week long discussion about how we could possibly do everything to prepare for sailing around the world in two months so that we could rush to Mexico and sail to the South Pacific with him and his wife. I’ve never met anyone happier and I suspect it’s because he has been focusing on fun for a LONG time. I’m not saying that you should sail the Pacific for two years or anything crazy like that, but I think you should focus on having fun for at least 21 more days.

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    1. Maybe I’ve not given it enough time, but so far, it’s just not been doing it for me. Focusing on fun isn’t fun, and it doesn’t seem to lead to actually having fun, at least for me (at least for these past ten days). I’m to the point where I’m not even certain what fun is. I suspect it’s personal (for example, I doubt that sailing around the world would be fun for me, but I recognize that it’s a great deal of fun for many other people), but I’m not even sure how I have fun. Maybe I just don’t like having fun? How does your sailing friend focus on fun?

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