Today is International Women’s Day and there are so many reasons why we all need to stand together to promote equality for women around the world.
There are some great writers already talking about that and here are a couple of my Australian favourites:
Catherine Deveny – Feminism in twelve easy lessons
Clementine Ford – Have feminists gone too far?
Today what I’d like to write to you about is to take a couple of minutes for yourself and do a lovely, quiet activity that I found recently in a book by Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel called ‘We. A manifesto for Women Everywhere’.
I have not even got very far through the book but it is very readable and certainly there are plenty of ‘stuff’ triggers, so it must be saying something real to me!
The activity I want to share starts on page 75 and I’ve reprinted it here in full. I don’t believe you need to read anything preceding it to get the beauty and benefit from this activity.
“Getting beneath the surface
This exercise is o help you discard the ideas about yourself that no longer serve you.
Think about the labels you’d use to describe yourself. They might be about your job, how you look, your race, your background, your sexual orientation.
Now think of the messages about yourself that you were given growing up. It doesn’t matter whether they were good or bad – we internalise them when we’re young and impressionable, and as we et older they can be hard to shake.
As a child, were you told you were lazy, smart or a show-off? Were you criticised or praised for how you looked – told you were too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short? Or maybe you were ignored and grew up with the belief that you were worth nothing at all.
Write a list of the ten most prominent message about yourself that come to your mind – from your past and your present. Look at each label on your list. Really ponder it. Is it true? Does is really represent who you are inside?
Now make sure you are comfortable and have time to sit for a few moments. Close your eyes. Breathe in and out five times, letting your out-breath last for five counts and your in-breath for four. Imagine you are in a boat that is floating far out at sea and that you take the labels you have written and scatter then onto the surface of the ocean. Watch the words floating there, bobbing up and down on the waves. Now imaging diving into the water so you’re beneath them. As you look back up at them, you see that the paper is wet and the writing is starting to smudge so you can no longer read the words.
Dive deeper and look back up again. The paper is dissolving into the ocean ad now it is gone. As you swim deeper you find yourself resting on the seabed. It is calm and peaceful and still down here. No turbulence, no waves. Any notion of who you are or are not is just a distant memory left on the surface. Inhale and exhale. You are free. Deep down, beneath the words, beneath the ideas and judgements of yourself and others, you are perfect and whole just as you are. Allow yourself to really embrace what that feels like. To be truly free, to be truly yourself.
When you are ready, slowly float up to the surface and open your eyes. Take your list and scrunch it up. If you’ like, you can throw it in the trash or even burn it and scatter the ashes. You don’t need those labels any more. Your true self – the part of you that dived into the water – exists beyond and beneath all words. When you reside in her, you will feel utterly safe and loved.
This is a great exercise for when you’re feeling off balance or upset. It’s not necessary to repeat all of it, just imagine yourself diving deep down into your own internal ocean and resting there for a while until you feel restored. You can even add this calming imagery to your daily mediation practice.”
I did this activity without physically writing the list and it worked just as well.
I also considered my body of water one that I had recently visited in the Highlands of Scotland at Kylesku. It was so beautiful and calming there. I also imagine myself proudly naked and without shame as I dive into the crystal clear and calm waters.
I have since done this a few times to feel that wonderful calm and confidence of just being me.
If nothing else, take a few minutes before you finish today, even if it is before bed, and do this activity, for you.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Wishing you all the happiness the Universe can bring,