Shed The Layers

I was recently looking for some photos to print for a Christmas project. And, as always, an hour later I was sucked into scrolling down photo memory lane. I stopped for awhile and reminisced on photos of a trip Steven and I had taken to Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It was our first annual beach tour. The goal was to take in as many beaches as we could and explore the new shorelines in one week. As I continued scrolling through photos, I got to the part of our trip where we discovered a remote beach. We had hiked in, and just past this amazing climb over the bluff, we saw this massive, empty beach—quiet and peaceful, with nobody there but us.  So we found our spot in the sun and set up camp. We waded in the warmer bayside water, with soft waves and a steady breeze, ate lunch, then waded some more. I’m not sure which of us had the idea, but we decided to embrace the seclusion and take off our bathing suits. At least three hours went by and not a soul had walked this stretch. In fact, I remember seeing a bird in the distance perched on a rock, and kept thinking is that a person? But it never moved, confirming we were alone. So there we were, sunbathing nude on this amazing shoreline and, well, we took some photos. And these are the photos I found today while scrolling through photo memory lane. I have to admit, I love them. I wish I could have them on my walls with no judgement. The freedom we felt being naked on this beach, surrounded by this epic nature is something that I’ll always have to look back on and cherish. There really was no deep meaning for why we got naked that day—we just took off our suits because we could. You only live once, right? But tonight, as I was laying in bed, I realized our bathing suits—or lack thereof—were only a metaphor. A symbol of something that had been standing in the way of my true freedom. So then the question came, “What would I take off today if no one was looking?” Obviously, I’m not going to get nude anywhere around here, and I want to shift gears here to the energetics of what we “wear” (as I fear everyone is thinking that I’m some kind of a nudist, and that’s not where I am going).  Every time I leave the house, I wear makeup or maybe some hairspray. Other times it’s hair texturizer, a little lip gloss or highlighter. And I love nice clothes, sunglasses—I could go on and on. It’s because I feel better when I look good. But is it only when other people are around? The things that block our freedom the most, and cover up our true selves, are actually the “labels” we use. Labels expressing our roles in society, like being a mother, or a woman or the title of our career. Maybe it’s being a stay-at-home mom. Maybe it’s being a working mom, or a woman without any kids. All these labels we use to organize ourselves actually strip us of who we really are. Because if we identify with those labels and how society portrays those labels to us—be it good or bad—then it directly correlates to how we feel about ourselves—be it good or bad. No matter who is conveying the worth to you, it’s never the whole picture. We are worth a lot more than a word and the sounds it makes up. What happens to our feeling of freedom when we remove these labels? I know for me, the label ‘mother’ has been complex. Being called a mother is an absolute honor, and my heart dances every time I hear it. But it also seems to create a lot of inner tension because it’s a big label to live up to. It seems no matter what I do as a mother, I am not doing it right. If I’m at work, I wish I was at home. It’s like seeing pictures from your sitter on your lunch break of your child at the park, and feeling guilty you’re not there. Or being a stay-at-home mom, playing Legos on the floor for hours, feeling guilty, wanting to pull your hair out because you haven’t spoken to another adult all day. This label I identify with has basically made it so that no matter what I’m doing, I’m doing it wrong. What labels are limiting you from a true understanding of the vastness within? In yoga philosophy, it is believed that our true self is buried under layers and layers of false selves, veils that cover the light within. These veils cover up who we really are, and then we blindly identify as this false self, and we’re fooled into living this default persona. I loved this quote from Paulo Coelho, and felt it really summed it up for me. He says, “When I had nothing to lose, I had everything. When I stopped being who I am, I found myself.P What do I need to lose so that I may find everything that I am? And how do I take the veils off to uncover the truth? It’s funny how yoga philosophy and getting nude on a beach in your twenties can teach you similar lessons in life—taking off the veils, removing the cover-ups and losing the labels will get you to the core of who you truly are. In my research, the best way to shed these layers is to first know they are there, standing in your way of pure freedom. Then we can try the following: Seek first what you are not.Just like in that quote from Paulo, you find yourself when you stop being the false self. Remove the labels. Disassociating with the physical plane, focusing on your breath and your feelings, until you can feel that you are something more than this body. Do the work.Pay attention to your feelings. Begin a daily meditation and journaling practice with the goal of connecting deeper to your true self. Be brave. Let yourself be vulnerable. Raw and uncovered. Wake up each morning and commit to loving yourself! The layers come from trying to seek love and acceptance from others. As soon as we find that acceptance from ourselves, we can be free and happier. I’d love to hear from you, how you believe your veils impact your life and your authentic self. What does being a mother mean to you? How do you plan to shed the layers? How do you plan to keep them? Beach: Bound Brook Wellfleet, Massachusetts Author: Lisa Popovich Email: lisatpopovich@gmail.com Author Bio: I am finding my way as a mother. Seeking to reclaim a part of myself that I have lost in the journey of becoming a mother. Called to share stories of how becoming a mother has been a challenge for me, and how I am learning to hold space for a new little human’s path. Exploring paths of healing and being the best version of myself. Rather than feeling depleted and pulled in a million different directions, choosing to feel the stability and balance that lies somewhere in the polarity. The tug of war, the ups and downs all somehow seem to keep us right in the middle. Link to social media or website: https://motherinthemiddle.com

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