“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” -- Thich Nhat Hanh
I spent several days on retreat at Upaya Zen Center last month for a program about Love and Death. On the subject of death and forgiveness, one participant shared deeply about the last moments of her partner's life.
Both she and her partner had experienced abuse and carried trauma in their bodies. So the gift she offered him at his death bed was profound and beautiful. As he was dying and unable to speak, she reminded him that every part of him was completely lovable. The parts that had been abused, the parts that had abused others, the parts that were in pain.
The woman sharing, who was a true Bodhisattva, told us how she practices this with her own wounded and fragile parts. As she sits in meditation she mentally touches each part of her body and says, "Is this foot lovable? Yes, completely lovable. Is this leg lovable? Yes, completely lovable." And so on.
She got to her mouth, which had been sexually abused as a child, and she asked, "Is this mouth, the one that was abused, is it still lovable?" And she answered to herself, "Yes, completely lovable."
I found this practice to be moving and extremely healing for my own body, which experienced physical abuse as a child and which I abused with an eating disorder during my youth. Is the finger that I used to purge myself lovable? Yes, completely lovable. Is my mind, with its mean thoughts and bad ideas lovable? Yes, completely lovable.
This practice of Completely Lovable invites our ultimate body to express love for our human body, the one that has experienced so much in our human lifetime. Practicing this, we start to know that our body is completely lovable no matter what it has experienced. And this allows us to walk less encumbered through the world. More free.
This week, after our sitting and walking meditation periods, I will offer us a guided meditation on Completely Lovable, and afterward we will have time to share about our experiences.
I hope to see you there.