Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Postmodern Hymn: That I Would Be Good

Let's allow Alanis to break it down for us. If you're like me, you've probably heard "That I Would Be Good" before, but it still grips me when I hear it. She has a way of naming internal realities with such clarity.

I've been thinking about self-love lately and how to avoid the pitfalls of the selfish form of love Westerners can be so good at. I don't pretend to have it all figured out, but here are my thoughts:

Looking at common depictions of self-care, I find them very superficial. Take a picture of your body and call it accepting your body. This kind of practice seems very alienating to me. I know that when I'm happiest in my body, it is because I am enjoying the sensations of moving, breathing, and resting. The times when I feel the most self-love are when this feeling of body awareness deepens into a sensation that at the core of my being, all is well, and all is accepted. There is a softening, a loosening of resistance, to my struggles. I suspect that some thinkers might find some of these things weak and reprehensible. But I think the process of becoming gentle with oneself, in the way I've just described, resonates with what Alanis is singing about, as well as with what teachers like Pema Chodron advocate.

So, this is my invitation to allow your pleasurable practices of the body to penetrate to your core, and to love the body-heart-mind-soul mystery as you encounter it.

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