Sensual Healing

Our social culture has a sexual undertone. From billboards to magazines to movie screens, it’s in our faces.  It is the topic of gossip, debate, articles, books, and of course one of the internet’s most frequent search topics; porn.

How much are we having? How good is it? How often is everyone else having it? What should we be doing? How should we make ourselves sexy?

For a lot of people at some point or another, sex becomes a ‘should’, rather than a want.

We live in what kind of resembles a porn culture. We go hard, we push ourselves, we try to outdo others, we try to act like we’re enjoying it more than we are and we focus on getting to the goal. Not just in the bedroom, but out of it. How many people just go, they spend their days trying to get through it, get it done, they plaster a fake smile when they need to and try to act like they’re present when they’re still graced by daydreams, then push themselves to get there, whether there is a paycheck, a kids bedtime, or finally getting to sit on the couch and turn on the TV.

We take sex in the same light. It becomes, consciously or unconsciously, added to the to do list, either because media tells us it should be, or because we jump on any stirrings we have to get a little more out of that day we pushed ourselves through. We put what little of us we have left into it and… it’s not great is it?

Is it any wonder libido’s are low and women often feel that they’re losing that sexual side of themselves?

Life is busy. Really busy. We have full days and full lives and the pursuit of goals are a valid part of that.

But we have to get rid of the porn culture in our lives. We have to rediscover seduction.

What if we felt more? Lets forget anyone else and focus on seduction of self. Lets get sensual again.

How many sensations do you miss, because you convince yourself you’re too busy to feel them? What you’re wearing right now – how does it feel? Is your shirt soft, is it silky? How does it fall against you? Does your hair brush against your neck, your face? Stroke circles on the back of one hand with a finger of the other – lightly. Feel your touch. Be aware of the rivulets of water running down your body in the shower. Try to sense the warmth of the steam and actually be aware of how it licks your skin. This isn’t sexual – it’s sensual.

And sight – how often do we see without looking? We’re so busy doing, and tidying and going that we miss the richness of the colours, we forget to appreciate the patterns of the fabrics we wear, the grain of the wood, the individuality of the leaves or the way branches dance in the wind. Maybe your day is spent in an office and you’re so tired of seeing the same things that they fade into the background. Really see them today. See yourself when you look in the mirror and appreciate something beautiful about yourself. Find something beautiful in someone around you, something you might have missed before.

What about your sense of smell? Close your eyes right now and breathe with awareness. What do you smell? Fresh air? Is it cool or warm? Is there a hint of your partners cologne? Maybe your own shampoo? How does your lunch smell? That apple?

What about sound? Young children are taught to close their eyes and listen to the noises around them, to see how many they hear and find where they are. We’re not too busy for that, not too grown up. Right now if I close my eyes I hear the wind in the trees to my left. I hear a dog snuffling. I hear the TV singing cheerily in the background. I hear the sharp clicks of the keyboard beneath my fingers.

Then taste – how many of us forget to really taste each mouthful? I’m guilty of buying small dark chocolates and eating far more than I have to because I forget to actually savor any of them. I need to remind myself to stop, to place a single one on my tongue and to take a breath. To slowly let it rest there and taste the richness, the sweetness, the texture that its shape gives it as it dissolves in my mouth.

That’s our seduction, and it has nothing to do with sex. It has everything to do with being present. It’s about stirring anticipation – because when we come back into our senses they become heightened – they hum because they know something very soon is going to be amazing. Something is going to really fill us with its beauty at any moment.

We need to reclaim our physicality. Especially when we are tired because we spend all day chasing the kids, or because work is all consuming. We need to stay sensual at those times because we will find a richness in them that we deprive ourselves of otherwise. Us. Not our partners or society, this is about being rightfully selfish because we deserve every bit of joy a day offers us.

We need to seduce ourselves into feeling better in our skin. Get rid of the ‘shoulds’, they have no place here, just be – and feel good.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012

Mosaic

 “The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well.” Alfred Adler

She is organized, but can’t quite relax. He is joyous, but procrastinates. She is an expert on food but struggles with her weight. He is a wealth of knowledge but finds social situations difficult. She is intuitive but anxious. He seems to have everything except the perfect relationship. They have the perfect marriage but can’t seem to get their finances together.

We all have an imbalance, a quirk, a seeming lack of wholeness in some way.

 And it used to frustrate the hell out of me.

We naturally seek to self improve, to grow, to make sense of things, and we look to others as a benchmark of the success we seek. Maybe we are intrigued by a public figure or celebrity, or hope to find our hero in someone we know. We get into the cooking show mentality and look for the perfect ‘after’ as we work on our ‘before’. It used to frustrate me that I could never really find one. No one seemed to have that balance we all hope to strike.

But I’ve realized that I was looking at it wrong.

I always believed that we are connected, but was still holding the idea of separation.

A mosaic is made of colourful pieces, each different, each beautiful and each imperfect in a way that allows them to fit so perfectly together.  Like us. That wonderful mosaic can only work because the pieces are a little chipped, they’re a little imbalanced.

They all bring something – not everything.

That mosaic is like our friendships, families, our brotherhoods, sisterhoods or communities. We are drawn together for the strengths that we bring to the whole – because we’re not meant to do this alone.

You might be strong in an area I am weak. I might be wise in an area you want to grow. He might be excelling in an area I want to learn from. She might be brave about something that scares him. He might teach her something she needs just by being who he is.

We all inspire, even as we are inspired, because we really are meant to be connected. As friends or family or people we pass in our day to day lives – we play a role for each other.

I was trying to find the whole in separation, but it was never there to find. It was in togetherness. That’s where we thrive, where our vibrant strengths and quirky imperfections come together as a mosaic. And it is beautiful indeed.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012

Sticks and Stones

I would make a terrible gladiator.

No matter how angry I became, I wouldn’t aim to wound. The more blows my opponent threw my way the more stunned I’d be that they were. And if they finally tired and walked away I’d walk after them, to hell with the consequences, because I’d still be convinced that the whole thing must be a misunderstanding.

I’m surrounded by much better gladiators than myself, and I’m trying to find the lesson in it as I dodge the blows.

I’m someone who puts a lot of emphasis on words. Maybe it’s because I write, or because they intoxicate me so when I read them. It could be because I crave, constantly crave, to understand those around me. Words are my clues. They are precious to me.

Because of that, I never want to argue. I hate to misplace them. I have the beautiful delusion that if I can just choose the right words, if I can just arrange them in the perfect way then there would be no need for arguments. I live in the belief that malice is usually misunderstanding.

When this belief fails me I am stunned to my core – every single time.

I recently had a week with two battles of my own and I was wounded – far more than my opponents intended – by misplaced words. They branded me and stung long after the voices fell and the calm returned.

It wasn’t the first time it had happened, and I’m sure it wont be the last. So this time I’m determined to take something from it, besides the sting.

So I’m taking this:

I believe we are here to grow. To learn. That our life paths push us in ways that will make us find more of ourselves. I believe that we can crave understanding of others as much as we like, but in the end it all comes back to us. It’s meant to.

I can’t choose words for others, but I can adjust my shield. So next time I will remind myself that the battle is about the fight, not the opponents. I will try to separate myself from it, and find something of beauty in it – because anger can be ugly, but it can also be passion. It can be release.

I will detach myself, just enough, to watch it build like a storm, to not be as shaken by the noise of the thunder, to be in awe of the lightening. To let the words wash over me like rain, leaving me clean.

Because words can sting, but the fight only stings me with them once. Hurried words pass so quickly. It’s me who has picked them up and used them as a weapon against myself.

So I realize that I am actually a mighty gladiator after all – but the one I have been hurting is me.

The words said by others only have the weight that I give them. I have been arming my opponents with my own perceptions.

And I’m not going to do it anymore.

Since the dawn of time there have always been battles, both physical and mental. It is inbuilt in the human condition. Not flaw, just fact.

I’m going to quench my craving for understanding, by understanding that there are times that people need to argue. There are times that they need that fight to really let go and release. I am still going to stand up for myself, and I’m still going to be a peacemaker because that’s who I am. But I’m also going to remember that that’s who they are, and the fight they have in them is theirs, not mine.

Words can still be just as precious to me, they can still mean as much. But from this moment on I will be as careful not to wound myself with others words as I am not to wound others with mine.

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012

You know what to do

Right now, as you read this sentence, you know how to change your life.

You know it without the aid of a prayer, a book, a counselor, a how-to guide or wise advice from a friend. They can all be useful. Sometimes their words spark something in you that you needed, but it’s a reawakening – a remembering of your own power.

Because if you’re honest with yourself, you know what to do.

Marianne Williamson said; “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” She’s often right.

Even as we aspire to our greatness we have a habit of putting it in others hands. Maybe it has been schooled out of us by an education system that taught us to accept truth as prescribed, to wait for instructions before moving forward.

It could be a culture of marketing, convincing us we need everything from useless kitchen items to life’s step-by-step to succeed.

Maybe it’s our family or friends, passing on their own doubts or fuelling the ones we already had.

Perhaps we’ve just gotten used to looking out instead of in.

It doesn’t matter why though does it? Because it’s really just about taking our power back.

Try this experiment; think about an area of your life you’d like to improve. It could be work, love or family. It might be a lifelong goal or an emotional habit. You might want to conquer Everest or stop sneaking chocolate at night.

Now ask yourself one step you could take towards changing it.

You got it, didn’t you? Your subconscious didn’t even hesitate.

See the thing is, we don’t need to know every step before us. We need to know one. We need to stop over-thinking that first step and act on instinct – our instinct. The next step will come.

We’ve convinced ourselves of the enormity of change. The reality is that a friendship can be nurtured with a phonecall, a relationship improved with a lingering hug, a weight loss journey begun with one choice.  It might be as simple as taking a deep breath when your kids make you flustered, or picking up an industry magazine for the career that inspires you. The results of change can be enormous – but the doing should be organic. It’s just about getting out of our own way.

“But if I know what to do, and I don’t always do it, what does that make me?” Human. It’s ok not to be perfect right now. It’s ok not to act on every inspired thought or idea – but don’t give them away, don’t make them harder.

Enjoy your books, exchange advice with your friends, see a counselor or make a plan – if it helps you, do it. 

Just come from that place of ease, because in this moment and in any other – you know what to do.


Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2012

Meaningful conversations that aren’t

They say to avoid talking about religion, sex or politics. I intend to talk about all three. But not yet, not quite. I’ll just talk about God from the point of view of my four year old.

The other day a nun crossed the road in front of our car.

“Who’s that lady?” Bodhi asked.

“She’s a nun. She’s someone who has dedicated her life to God.”

“Oh.” He said, sounding thoughtful. “Mum, is God real?”

When he asks if things are real I generally turn it back on him. I enjoy listening to him hypothesize the existence of mythical creatures or lecture me on his flights of fancy. But this time I didn’t.

“People believe different things about God.” I said. “Some people believe that God is a man sitting in Heaven and other people believe there’s no God at all. You can decide what you believe as you learn and grow, but I believe that God is real. I believe that God is a word some people use to describe that big kind of love you feel inside you, or that feeling of being protected and safe, and looking around and seeing how everything is connected.”

There was a long pause. “So, God’s inside me?”

“Yes bub, God’s the love in your heart.”

Another pause, then a very loud shout “GET OUT OF ME GOD!! HOW DID YOU GET IN THERE?? THAT’S DISGUSTING!!!!!” *random beating of chest was heard from the back of the car*

In the end he decided God could stay there after all. And that he’d quite like to pray… for the world’s most enormous banana.

I think it’s safe to say that the point was nicely missed!

This is my mandala

Some days feel like madness, but they’re not.

The same clothes, washed and hung, to be folded and dirtied again. The dishes that were scrubbed earlier covered in food, soaking in the sink again. The floor, just vacuumed, collecting dust and dirt from hurried footsteps, begging to be cleaned again. The children that were just so freshly washed, now dirty and giggling as their faces are wiped again.

It looks like a hamster wheel, my day, the endless repetition of chores. But it’s not.

It’s my mandala.

Buddhists believe that change is the only constant in life. That you can only be truly present in this moment by understanding its fleetingness. They call it impermanence.

They symbolize it by creating mandalas – intricate patterns of coloured sand that consume their time and focus. Then they take that finished product, that breathtaking creation, and they destroy it.  

Much like my children do to my clean house.

Sometimes we need to find meaning in our actions, we need to remind ourselves why the mundane can be grand. We need to be here, be present, whatever our task is for today.

We need to make this moment our meditation.

The beauty of my mandala is my children’s smiles. The intricacies of it are the nuances of my family that only I can tend to. The symbolism of it is love – crazy, messy, beautiful love. And the fact that I will wake tomorrow and do it all again is my impermanence.

Your mandala might be different to mine. It might be your work that never seems to get finished, or your goals that are constantly pursued. But by being present in its creation you make it your meditation – and it is beautiful indeed.

The problem with positivity

I have a problem with positivity, or rather, I have a problem with the positivity cult.

You know the one.

The one where a person finds ‘something’ – God, religion, themselves, a guru, the new age, and all of a sudden they’re so fucking happy. Happy is good. Happy is amazing. I love happy. But this kind of happy only looks that way until you get close enough, then you realize it’s all a bit too one dimensional.  It’s forced. A joy Band-Aid if you will.

A Band-Aid covers something that’s wounded and allows it to heal. If one dimensional happy does that then it’s wonderful.

But at some point the Band-Aid has to come off.

Life is constantly in a state of flux. From the tides to our breaths there are highs and lows.

Even a heartbeat has ups and downs.

Sometimes we forget that it’s natural. If your car gets a flat tyre, your child has a tantrum at the shops, you bark your shin on the coffee table or you’ve just had bad news I’m sure you’re not smiling. I hope you’re not. Not then.

I’m not encouraging negativity – far from it. Optimism and positivity are essential parts of a happy life, but sometimes we get so focused on how we should be we lose the integrity of our own feelings. We get into the band-aid state of happiness, or flail to avoid the natural lows and in doing so throw ourselves out of rhythm and wind up feeling worse. We get stuck.

As a mother especially I need to remind myself this. I need to remember that it doesn’t matter how much love I have in my heart, or how insanely grateful I am for my family – some moments just stink. Some days are exhausting, sometimes the kids are just excruciatingly loud, sometimes the mess breeds faster than horny rabbits and it doesn’t take away from all the wonderful in my life to admit that. And BE tired, or BE pissed off, or BE angry or sad.  BE authentic.

Then just let it go.

We get caught up sometimes in the fact that we should know better. We’ve read books that tell us our thoughts create our words, our words create our actions, our actions create our habits and our habits create our destiny. Or something like that. But we are emotional beings. It’s not a design flaw – we’re meant to be.

The more at peace we are with those moments of madness the less intensity we need to give them.  Aristotle said “It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it.” It is the same for emotions. Let them come, play witness to them, own them, then let them go just as freely.

When you swim at the beach you get to know the waves. You know the ones that push you down and the ones that lift you up. You know that, for the most part, if you just relax, if you just go with it, the lows are followed by highs. You don’t need to fight for them, they’re yours.

At some point we have to learn to trust happiness. We need to trust that it’s ours and go with the flux. Laugh when you feel it, smile because you want to, see all the wonder around you and celebrate it but don’t be afraid of those lows. They don’t make you less. They don’t make you flawed.

They just make you honest.

DO Love

I usually have someone in my life who breaks my heart a little bit. Their identity changes, and isn’t really important. What’s important is what they teach me.

Sometimes it’s one who walks away from me rather than toward me when I’m crying. Other times it’s one who cannot seem to find ten minutes to look at a photo I’ve taken or something precious I’ve created – a gesture that would mean the world. Then there’s one who talks over my tales and walks out of the room as I bubble with excitement of what I want to tell them. Or the one who scoffs at emotions they don’t share.

These someones say “I love you” often. They make this sound, this word, ‘love’ a habitual noise, a jumble of the alphabet, whenever they see me.

They say love, in these moments, they don’t DO it.

For all of us, at some time or another, our love for others becomes about our own comfort, rather than theirs. Our self esteem is linked to this love because it defines us “I’m a loving person” we tell ourselves “look what I do for them.” Maybe a lot. But when it’s about us rather than them, it’s self love, so lets not kid ourselves. It’s like buying your very favourite peanut butter for someone with a nut allergy. It’s not what they want, it’s us going through the motions for our own benefit.

“I love you” shouldn’t be a habit, it should be a promise – a promise to stretch yourself to be there for the other person as they want or need you.

Stretching for love feels good, it grows your heart and mind.

Doing love is different for everyone. It might mean taking five minutes to put on fresh clothes and some lipgloss before your husband gets home, and taking that moment in the frenzy of witching hour with the kids to take a breath when he walks in the door, to smile at him like you see him, wrap your arms around his neck and linger with a kiss even if you’re distracted by the pot on the stove.

It might be asking, rather than assuming, what your friend or partner wants to do with your time together.

It might be listening, really listening.

It might be trying to read your lovers face and moods without words, to become their own intuitive.

Maybe it’s just really taking notice of the ceaseless chatter that is so important to your child. Maybe it’s saying “yes” in place of “I’m busy” when they come to you with wide eyes and open hearts.

It might be listening to a song with someone you love, to feel how the music talks to their soul.

Maybe it’s digging your heels in and staying grounded in moments your head is in the clouds, because your I love you can be the gift of your absolute presence.

It’s keeping ‘love’ as a verb, as it should be.

I used to believe the saying “Just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have”. In a way it’s true, but it forgets something – everyone, every single one of us makes a choice in every moment. Every one of us is capable of more.

So today, I’m going to make mistakes, I’m not going to get everything right, but I’m going to DO love. With every cell of my being I’m going to stretch myself for my family. I’m going to listen to those Lego tales, marvel at drawings, mirror the excitement in my babies eyes as he finds a particularly exciting leaf.

And I’m going to take this gift those someones have given me that I called disappointment and turn it into something beautiful – an ‘I love you’ that I say with my actions.

Twenty-five things…

One day, several months ago, I was having a hard day. Thanks to the absence of sleep, a cold and two sick, whinging kids I felt deflated. And to top it off I felt guilty for feeling deflated, like I should have found the silver lining by now.

That day a friend posted a link on facebook, this link http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

I read it and I cried because it was so what I needed to read at that moment. Glennon Melton, who writes the momastery blog has started a love revolution, she has inspired many people and created miracles for many others.  In her very first post titled “Twenty-five things you don’t have time to read” she showed great courage in her complete honesty. She laid herself bare.

In this post I do a little of the same, and share a bit about who I am, who I’m not, and who I’d love to be…

Here are my twenty-five things

1. We have chosen to Homeschool our children. I believe in this with every fibre of my being. I buzz with anticipation for the adventure ahead. I look forward to the joys and the challenges. I also have frequent flashes of self-questioning, of hoping I will do it well enough, of doubts and uncertainties. I appreciate them – they keep me on my toes.

2. In the majority of photos taken of me my unattractive twin jumps in front of the lense and works her most awkward facial expressions. So much so that when I see a good photo of me I become quite excited. I have been known to squeal.

3. I love to meditate, but stilling my mind when I do so is as difficult as holding onto a greased eel. I hear that the eel gets less slippery the more often you hold it.

4. I refuse to believe in a truth that does not allow questioning. I believe that truth can only become stronger by questioning, by wondering, by exploring all its angles and intricacies.

5. I love, really really love, to dance. Sometimes I dance down supermarket aisles when I think I’m alone. I’m usually not.

6. I despise coriander.

7. I crave travel. Its absence leaves an ache in me, a delicious thrum of anticipation that makes me want it even more. But for now I’m staying put while we build our family, and that’s ok. I keep planning and dreaming – it’s like foreplay for the journey to come. The next time I step off a plane somewhere strange and wonderful all my senses will be heightened from the wait.

8. I am loud. Oh how I’d love to be perpetually zen, but I’m not. My peaceful parenting is occasionally interrupted by the sound of me losing my shit. Thankfully my son isn’t bothered, because he’s louder.

9. I expected falling in love to be like a flash of heat, like being swallowed up by unquestioning certainty. I expected the “this is it” to knock me off my proverbial feet and take my breath away.

But it wasn’t. It was like stepping into the sun and the warmth slowly filling me from the inside out. It didn’t knock me off my feet but put me more solidly on them…. And the breath I expected to be taken away I found had actually become in synch with someone else walking in the same direction. So I could breathe deeper, and step stronger knowing I wasn’t walking alone.

10. I started asking for a pet giraffe for Christmas when i was five. Disappointingly enough I still haven’t received one.

11. I have never smoked, never taken drugs and only had a few drinks in my life. This is mainly because I enjoy mental clarity and have little interest in reducing mine. It’s also because I have very few inhibitions even when sober so I would be an extremely embarrassing drunk.

12. I once pole danced in a bar in Thailand. Sober. See the inhibitions comment in #11.

13. I am deeply grateful for everyone in my life, now or in the past. I’m thankful for the ones I’ve loved, lost, laughed with and cried over. I have learnt more from them than any self-help book I could have read.

14. I get nervous about making phone calls – pretty much every freakin’ time.

15. This poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson once changed the direction of my life:

To laugh often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people
and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics
and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child,
a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;
To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

16. I was single for years before I met my husband. I had decided not to waste my time with a man who did not want the same things as I did. But then I got so comfortable in my own company, so safe in my own existence that I almost walked away as soon as I felt something. I’m grateful for those who cared enough to push me to take a chance.

17. I have fire walked.

18. I’m in love with Venice. The crumbling grandeur, the reflections in the canals, the narrow calle choked with bustling tourists and the way they become a haunting maze without them. The city is poetry and it will be forever in my blood.

19. I find intellectual conversations a turn on.

20. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve responded to “Hello” with “Good thanks, you?”

21. I love to read. I get addicted to the words and everything falls away, even sleep.

22. If I could I would quite possibly marry ice-cream.

23. My older son knows how to push all my buttons. He drives me mad. He’s absolutely awesome.

24. One day I will finish my novels. Until then the characters are growing, changing and evolving, taking on a little of the people I meet along the way, a lot of the wisdom I gain as I grow, and a delicious sprinkling of the crazy that motherhood brings.

25. I swear too much. I wish I didn’t, but I fucking do.