Yesterday, I returned from The Strozzi Institute where I attended the Women’s School of Embodied Leadership, or SOEL. During this amazing experience I was able to dissolve once again, after some initial resistance, the ways I protect or armor myself to be in the world. As a species, we want to be safe, belong and keep our dignity. In order to achieve this we shape ourselves to our world. We learn which behaviors or actions help us have safety, belonging and dignity and which ones do not. This shapes our body and our perception of possibility. It also provides a foundation to anchor our ego and a platform to establish our ground.
The recognition of ground resembles the creation of ego, a strong self-referencing source by which we establish our identity. Only ground, as ephemeral as ego, yet stronger and more mutable because of its ability to be explored without anxiety, worry or fear of dissolving. Ground, or what we stand for differs from ego because it does not define and limit us as having to be a particular way, it enhances us because we can take it with us where ever we go as a platform of security. As adults, our ground gives us the authority to self-define when we are safe, create relationships where we belong and sustain a life that supports our dignity. Our ego keeps looking for external validation.
When we are able to transfer our desire to defend our ego which seems to exist in our heads with the ability to sense our ground which exists in and outside of our whole body, then we can truly transform because feedback becomes a point of reference for finding balance in ground not a threat to a defended identity, a call to fight.
In an Aikido text I was reading yesterday in the dark of the night, O. Fred Donaldson had this line which has since possessed me, “ …like snowflakes into boiling water – the one dissolves, becomes and changes the other.” I wondered if I would ever be solid enough in my ground to be able to dissolve and become with the faith that change for both would be there on the other side. If I dissolved where would I go, who will I be if I am not my façade, my ego, my external expression to the world??
Which got me to wondering, what does it mean, as Rilke states, to live in the question? This is a fundamental and developmental question of identity and I sense that on the heels of this powerful experience at SOEL, I am able and worthy of the question and willing to stand in my ground until I live myself into the answer.
How do you know what you stand for? Where are you willing to give a little? Where are you not? Invite perspective, the world wants to know you without armor, soft and powerful.