Last spring I did something I’d wanted to do for a long time; I modeled for a life drawing class. Why, you might ask, would anyone want to do such a thing? Anyone other than a total exhibitionist, which I am not… really, I’m not.
I was intrigued with the notion of sitting still for long periods of time with people watching. I have meditated at different times in my life and it seemed to me, sitting for artists would be a sort of meditation. Of course, the harried working mom part of me was grateful for three hours to just sit anywhere without people needing me to shuttle, pick-up, clean-up or fix anything. I don’t believe I’m the only mother who looks forward to going to the dentist for a little peace and quiet.
So, that explains the sitting part. But the other part, you know, the part where you take off all your clothes and let people see every bump and ripple, why would I do that?
As it turns out, that too is a sort of meditation. By meditation I mean a stripping away of all that is non-essential; knowing the self through experience and presence. Taking off my clothes and sitting in front of a group of non-judgmental people allowed me to be with my physical self in a very different way, to simply sit and be. My attitudes about my body were meaningless in that situation; I was a body, no more, no less. To maintain stillness it was necessary to clear my mind, release my thoughts and feelings about how I looked. Release everything and become one with everything. Isn’t that what meditation allows us to do? I felt a great sense of freedom and a wonderful peacefulness at the end of the 3-hour session. I had done my job to the best of my ability and that was all I or anyone else expected of me. Afterwards, I was fascinated by the drawings from the different artists. I loved them, I loved the person they had drawn, I loved that body with all it’s bumps and bulges, dimples and ripples. I saw myself for the first time.
As I approach 60 I long to take off all the trappings and wrappings of family, society, expectations and guilt to see what exists of me. What is essentially, undeniably me? As I shed the layers, I feel that same sense of wonder, fear and excitement I felt as I disrobed in class. And I feel that same sense of inevitability and determination. This is something I want so I will do it. I’m not sure of what I will find at that deep level but my hope is to love that soul with all its faults and all its beauty the way I learned to love my body, by seeing it as it is rather than how I want it to be.