my definition of confidence

Young Woman from the Boni Yaou Family, Djougou, Benin photograph by Alfred Weidinger

One of the most powerful things you can have as an individual is the understanding that absolutely no one can invalidate you or make you less of a human being. No matter what name anyone calls you, you are good. No matter how anyone mistreats you or fails you, you deserve goodness. No matter what challenges you face or shortcomings you may have, you are worthy of love. When you know that, you will not let anyone mistreat you. You will not believe the bullshit they heap on you. Their words and actions may sting, but you will have dignity. And instead of internalizing their evil, you will look the cowards in the eye and see their pain, and you will respond with love. For them and for yourself.

 That’s confidence.

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The Initiation and the Work

Witches by Hans Baldung. Woodcut, 1508

At Betty’s apartment, she told us all we are priestesses. “Yes, that. That’s what I want to be,” said a voice inside me. A priestess. Not a saint or a martyr. A powerful woman, not a victim of circumstance. That’s what the tattoo on my belly means. I’ve had it since I was 18 — the triple moon symbolizing the goddess, the divine feminine principle, shakti. We are priestesses not for any religion or god but for truth as we see it and know it with our hearts. With that first tattoo, I was claiming my body as my own, no matter what — mine to mark, and mine to wear. It was the first permanent decoration for my temple, and the first step toward the priestess taking up residence. I awakened the wise woman within me, with her roots that reach back to all the wise women who went before. And even though I was young and lost, she was with me.

It was that same wise woman I sensed that afternoon last year surrounded by the faces of so many radiant, orgasmic women including our teachers and initiators, Betty and Carlin. She was older, her voice had grown stronger, and she was smiling directly at me through the women in the circle. We entered as seekers, and we left as priestesses, and now I want to know how to spread the word.

I believe the world needs more shakti right now. We need more women who are powerful and confident.We need women who own their sexuality, who refuse to be victims, who speak their truth and honor their bodies. We need to give our daughters every opportunity we give our sons. We need lovers who do not fear us, who are not mystified when we bleed, who want nothing more than to praise our bodies with kisses. We need to be loved, and it starts with loving ourselves.

I used to think Betty’s message was all about the orgasm, and I’ll tell ya that is a truly wonderful thing, but at the end of the day, whether you’re practicing self-love or playing with a friend, it’s not about how many times you came, it’s about how much fun you had. Did you love, or were you afraid? Was it a celebration or a sacrifice? Did you revel in every amazing moment or did you beat yourself up with thoughts self-loathing and undeservingness? It’s easy to apply these questions not just to sex but to an entire approach to life.

It’s been nearly a year since my first workshop at Betty’s apartment. The message of self-love, self-acceptance, and self-pleasure has found its way into my whole mindset. Now I’m looking for how I can bring that message back out into the world — how do I embody those principles in my life and my work? And is teaching Bodysex Workshops the right next step for me? I don’t like to think of myself as the “radical self love” type with all the cutesy trappings of the blogosphere, but I do believe that teaching women to love and accept themselves will change the world.

Unsurprisingly, being able to speak the lessons I’ve learned requires me to integrate them on a whole new level, so I find myself facing a lot of work. Doesn’t that just always seem to be the case? I wonder if there will ever come a time when I don’t feel like I have a whole damn lot to learn.

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If You Are Worried About Love

Love Me Tender
If you’re worried about love
choose to trust
that people are not lying when they say “I love you,”
because lying about love takes too much goddamned energy.
Instead of worrying
work on being someone you can love.
Know that no one can diminish you.
No one can make you less human.
No one can make you less worthy.
You are as deserving of love as the most innocent newborn.
Furthermore, you are capable of giving yourself the love you need.
In fact, you are the only person who can do that.
No matter how many times they say “I love you,”
or “you’re beautiful,”
you will never believe them until you know it yourself.
Look in the mirror.
See how much you want to be loved.
Could you give yourself that gift?

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actually, you’re already awesome

So, I just saw this:

I appreciate the sentiment, but I don’t think it’s exactly accurate.

See, you’re already great. Maybe you just don’t know it, yet.

You’re great for showing up. You’re great for investing the energy in yourself. You’re great for having enough love for yourself that you will show up and do the work. You’re BRAVE. When you look in the mirror, you might see all your shortcomings and failures, but you keep going anyway. You are fully aware of your every flaw, and you may have beaten yourself up a lot, and you may struggle to love yourself sometimes, and yet here you are.

One of the most incredible things about being a yoga teacher is that I get to see students do this work, internal and external. They meet their physical limitations and then have to do the mental work to accept themselves and to kindly ask their bodies to go a little further. I get the extreme honor of seeing them bloom.

Greatness is not in your physical form. It’s not in your career. It’s not in money. It’s in you. All you have to do is show up and shine.

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