Well-being Wednesday: the taboo. There’s well-being in the off-limits.
Two almost universal taboos are death and sex. And, surprisingly or not, these are the topics I often spend the most time talking about with friends and clients as well as reading about for my own personal and professional development (#ILoveMyJob). But I don’t engage in these for shock value. There’s healing to be found here. It is in the forbidden and uncomfortable that we often have things to learn about ourselves and others. Here, we have growth opportunities.
I hosted one of our death cafes last night and was disoriented momentarily by the topic of purpose and meaning (I am not often knocked off center, so kudos to those that challenge me in new ways) – What’s the point of all this if we are going to die anyway? Oh…….where to begin. I don’t have answers for any of you, but I have answers that work for me. My answer: everything. Everything is the point. I am embodied. I can touch and smell and see and taste and experience and move and laugh and engage and relate and create. And I.want.it.all, especially laughing, and loving, and creating – over and over. I am in absolute profound love for life, even when in sadness, anger, or deeper depression once I re-member my true orientation and respect the wisdom of those feelings. I am in awe of life, and re-experiencing it as witness and through the lens of gratitude thanks in part to my children. The brevity of life and guarantee of death doesn’t detract from the meaning for me, it makes the meaning. We are all terminal, and I plan to experience and do and benefit the most while I have this gift of a skin suit. This is this is meaning-making; this is purposefulness; this is story-telling; this is happiness, resilience, thriving, and well-being; this is spirituality.
Everything is the purpose and the point. As my neighbor reminds me and Ram Dass has said, it is all, the challenges and the successes, “grist for the mill”.
Like Death Café, we experience similar trajectories and conversations when discussing pleasure and sexuality in my sexuality counseling groups (Pleasure Café) and Sex Nerd book clubs.
Can you see how the taboo can now be healing and soulful? When forced to consider your own relationship to the taboo, and unlearning what you need to grow into your fullest and most possible self, whatever that means to you, because that is the thing, you are autonomous and self-determining (some more than others, with a nod to cultural limits and oppressions) – you get to decide how you feel and what you think and continue to change and grow and adapt as you learn. And, from my experience, the biggest bang for the buck so to speak, is in the taboo, particularly death and sex – where our embodiments find their most impactful engagements – in joining in deep pleasure with self and/or other(s) and in navigating toward our endings (in skin as well as life).
What makes you uncomfortable there? Why are you avoiding it? Who told you to? And why do you still listen to that teaching if it no longer serves you? So many questions for you personally and bigger ones culturally, like Why are these topics off limits? Who benefits from keeping us silenced around such powerful and universal experiences? I have my suspicions and that keeping these significant life experiences culturally untouchable, we keep people less educated and less in their power.
How many of you can openly voice questions, concerns, or experiences about death or sex? How does that impact our lived experiences? Our ability to create more intimacy and expression in our lives? Our capacity to teach our children? I’ve noticed the avoidance of taboo and gaps in conversations personally (ex. I couldn’t sleep well for years as a child, afraid that if I fell asleep, my parents would die; yet they never knew and I never thought to bring it up – death was unspeakable) and coverage in healthcare professionally (ex. sexuality wasn’t often discussed with new onset of disability, as if being disabled somehow made a person asexual). How would our lives look different if we engaged with the taboo more deliberately? #ShadowWork
There is wellness to be had in the things we are told are untouchable or off limits; it is in those forbidden things that we often have so much to learn about ourselves and others. Want to join the conversations? Our next death cafés are 3/23 130pm central and 4/12 630pm central (free; early sign up is recommended, as we get full and I cap the size for time and intimacy). Death cafes are worldwide with many virtual offerings if our specific days and times don’t work for you. We have a pleasure café on 4/13 and again on 4/27, 4pm central ($10, with sliding scale option for those that need it) and Sex Nerd Book Club on 3/22 (free; Becoming Cliterate by Dr. Laurie Mintz).
(For poetry inspiration that aligns with my heart, see Alice Walker’s Desire Desire Poem by Alice Walker – Poem Hunter and Mary Oliver’s Mindful Mindful poem – Mary Oliver poems | Best Poems (best-poems.net))
Good luck dismantling taboo and #ShadowHunting, loves. It is beautiful work and it is the point for self- and community-actualizing. In gratitude for you all.
#Deathcafe #SexualityCounseling #ShamanicPractitioner #SpiritualFitness #Thrive #Resilience #CommunityCare #WordMedicine #Dismantle #Taboo
Written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. Originally posted to social media on 3/10/21. Image is mine.
Please consider becoming a Patreon supporter to assist in making my work and educational efforts more sustainable. https://www.patreon.com/ignitewellbeing