I’ve been dabbling with my next book. It’ll be an ultra-liberal, yogi-parenting memoir. You know, co-sleeping, attachment parenting, planting a tree over my son’s placenta, that sort of thing.
As part of this project, I’ve been reading books about cloth diapers, elimination communication, circumcision, vaccines, the family bed, and now, in The Continuum Concept, I’ve learned that we should hold our children with skin-to-skin contact from the moment they are born until they can crawl away.
This makes perfect sense to me — I believe it will foster secure, compassionate, happy children. But now I also see why I don’t feel safe in the womb of the world. I now understand why my emotions seem to run the small interval of Woody Allen to George Costanza.
Realizing this made me very depressed.
I was depressed … until I hatched a plan. I decided that it was not too late for me to reclaim a feeling of safety and love.
I call this my Be Loved experiment, and I’ve been practicing, now, for two months.
In the first version of this experiment, I would sit on my meditation cushion and visualize everyone I know standing in line and, one by one, giving me a hug. I was like the selfish opposite of Amma, the hugging saint.
This was a high, to be sure. But then I’d leave my cushion and be appalled by how crude and unkind people could be. In my visualizations, I was receiving unconditional love, but in real life, when people were not the gooey lovers of my meditation, I felt judged, hurt, and rejected.
So I switched and went right to the top. To the Elvis of unconditional lovers. To God. Now, instead of visualizing my friends and neighbors, I visualize God hugging me. I sink into her and feel her enveloping me. I imagine her wearing me in a giant wrap; she plays with my toes and kisses my head.
And now I’m surprised, not by how crude and unkind people can be, but by how available and loving they are. And by how connected I feel.
Did the practice change me? Or did my practice change my world?
I’d say that when people sense a clingy neediness, they take cover. In my first practice, I was, in a subtle way, stealing from others, looking for them to fill my cup.
But, when I fill my cup from source, from universal energy, and show up already loved, people feel safe and their hearts open wide to me.
I’ve seen this time and again. As I let love in, the world around me changes. Friends I have not heard from for weeks or years reach out to me. Distant colleagues email about my new book. As I drop my barriers to receiving love, love pours in and envelops me. I am no longer afraid, anxious, neurotic, and alone. I have transmuted my inner Woody Allen into Thích Nhất Hạnh.
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About Brian Leaf
Brian Leaf is the author of Misadventures of a Garden State Yogi. He lives in Western Massachusetts where he is an avid meditator, yogi, dad, and husband. You can follow his parenting adventures and misadventures on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Misadventures.of.a.Yogi.