During a recent conversation with a dear friend, we were discussing of all things, natural body functions and the shame that seems to be so deeply rooted in the subject matter. I shared a story with her about something I’d witnessed first-hand 8 years
before that both saddened me and impassioned me.
One gloriously sunny, not too hot spring afternoon, I had taken my then 5 year old son to one of our prized and award-winning local zoos. Elephants being both of our favorite animals to visit, view, photograph and enjoy time with, we made our way to the big elephant enclosure in the middle of the zoo. As we were hanging out in the gallery with lots of other families and individuals, I was aware that something was about to take place. Viewing the elephants through my telephoto camera lens, I could see the activity level of the elephants start to increase and movement was becoming more “visceral” in nature. As I took my eye away from my camera’s view finder and looked down at my brown-haired son standing beside me, he was mesmerized, smiling and had his big brown eyes fixed on two particular elephants directly in front of us.
I smiled as I put my eye back to the lens and continued snapping various photos of these amazing and gentle giants. Just about that time, the male elephant proceeded to approach one of the females from behind and mounted her, ready to mate. At the exact same moment the male elephant’s reproductive appendage became visible, a collective gasp loudly escaped from the adult mouths of those in the viewing gallery. As I snapped my head back from my camera and glanced around, the majority of the families in the gallery looked away frightened, scattered frantically and all but dragged their children away in panic. It was both hysterical to me at the moment, and infuriating. As I stood there without moving, I looked down at my son again to gauge his reaction. He looked up at me and said, “Mommy, that elephant isn’t hurting the other one, is it?”
I melted inside as I stood in this moment bearing witness to nature doing what nature does; observing the miracle that it is, not shying away from it, not making it anything but a natural function of life and out of the mouth of my babe, his only concern was that there was no harm being done to one another. It was one of my proudest moments. As I answered him lovingly, “No honey, they are doing what elephants do and they absolutely are not hurting one another, I promise.” This reassured him enough for him to watch another few moments and then proclaim, “Ok, let’s go see the monkeys now, please!”
As I laughed with my friend about this encounter, what I remembered that was so important to me was my frustration with the shame and the lack of ease and normalcy we as a society have with nature, natural reproductive function, bodily function, bodily fluids and all things that are in fact about the cycle of life and bodies here on the planet. As someone who struggled for years based on my repressed upbringing and embedded shame about certain (many) subjects and the lack of discussion about the cycle of life and the beautiful, natural order of it all, I have worked diligently to discover, uncover and learn what is innately true for me.
What I know for myself is that nature and the bodies know what to do and they have NO point of view or judgment about doing any of it! I appreciate just how in awe I am of nature and our bodies. How much awe and inspiration I gather from the fact that our bodies can and do all the things they do – that they are programmed intrinsically knowing how to function at their greatest and highest capacities! We as their human beings tend to “muck up the programs” with our overlays of projection, judgment, condemnation, avoidance, and downright self-loathing and hatred; which is all learned behavior.
I made a commitment to myself that when I had my son, I would teach him and raise him different than I had been raised – without shame. Understanding fully that my parents did the best they could with what they had, what they knew and what they believed at the time, I was prepared to step out into a very unfamiliar and often unpopular path. I was and am okay with that. I know that one of the things I can do and be better for my amazing young son is to instill and coax out of him his innate sense of wonder, curiosity, luminosity, kindness, care, compassion, love, wisdom and as such, that will serve him and the planet in the most generative ways possible. I believe in, practice, coach, teach and stand for empowering others to live their truest lives of freedom, which includes freedom from shame or embarrassment around any subject. Shame and embarrassment have no beneficial place in our lives. Ever.
I know that I am “right on track” with him because over the years, he continually and
courageously asks me questions that most parents shut down or shy away from entirely because of their own shame, embarrassment, or even their lack of true comfort, confidence or understanding about the subject matter. We’ve discussed matters that would make most grown adults cringe, and he is wiser, more empowered and definitely less judgmental or embarrassed about topics that many feel shame with. I am so proud of the man my son is becoming and I will continue to lead by example in all matters; clearing my judgments or outdated beliefs about shame and repression because I know for a fact that we are not designed to function from them.
We are designed perfectly, intuitively, instinctively, divinely and there is NO subject off limits, especially when we come from pure curiosity, wonder, unconditional, divine love, open-minds and open-hearts. The true freedom that’s available to us beyond the confines and the construct of shame is life-altering. And only once we’re ready to live a life of true freedom can we recognize just how much the grip of shame and embarrassment has a hold on us.
Working with clients over the years, I share below a few of the questions that I use in my practice to help assist anyone in starting to recognize if shame is in your midst and how to begin to break the grip of it from your life. Shame can be in any area, not just where sex, bodies or natural function is concerned. It shows up in all aspects of life, including but not limited to relationships, money/finances, education, family, profession, abuse, mental health, religion, etc.
Is there any subject that you would feel embarrassed or ashamed to talk about with someone outside your trusted inner support circle?
If not, congratulations!
If so, what is that subject(s)?
If yes, to the above, can you recall an age, an incident or a someone in your life that initiated that shame/embarrassment thought and subsequent cycle?
Does holding on to the shame/embarrassment feel good to you now when you experience it?
What’s the value of not feeling good?
Are you willing to recognize and acknowledge that the shame is a learned condition that can be released? Is now the time?
Shame is conditioned and usually has layers that are embedded in our mental and emotional realms. Often it can affect and manifest within our physical bodies. If you or someone you know is ready to release and live beyond a life of shame, please seek a professional to assist you with this process, as freedom IS a possibility – and is often more easily accessible than you may have known.
To reach Rhonda to discuss your desires and to experience a thriving life of freedom beyond shame, please contact her as shown below. A complimentary 30-minute discovery session is available for you regarding this subject, or any other matter.
Rhonda Burns is a Relationship & Intimacy Coach, specializing in conscious communication practices to help cultivate confidence, competence and courage, for soul-satisfying connection - in AND out of the bedroom. Rhonda invites you to book a complimentary discovery session today: firstname.lastname@example.org
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