One of my most vivid memories at a silent meditation retreat was of a woman’s hips. I sat on the aisle where the retreat teachers walked to the front platform at the beginning of each 30-minute sitting period. One of them, a tall midwife from Canada, wore knee-length skirts and stockings each day. I couldn’t take my eyes off her hips as she walked past me down the aisle. She let them sway widely exuding a regal presence. I could hear the give in her stockings as she walked towards the Buddha statue and bowed at her cushion.
There is juiciness in exploring the hips – the full pelvic tilt, side-to-side, front-to-back, in circles upon circles. When I am connected to my hips, to my body’s center, I feel connected to the Life Force within.
In my Black woman-owned preschool in Dayton, Ohio my favorite teacher was Mrs. Donna*. She led us in a dance every afternoon before naptime. She swayed her hips from side-to-side; head leaning back and fists at her side filling me with delight. I rarely slept during naptime. Instead I lay on my cot staring at the ceiling hearing the teachers watch As the World Turns in their lounge, still entranced by Mrs. Donna’s hip dance.
I hated practicing walking meditation for a year. Then during my third silent meditation retreat it clicked in my head: “Walking is all about the hips.” From then on I was hooked. As I lifted and lowered my feet in a slow, deliberate pace across the length of a room with white walls, I saw that the legs and the torso are actually extensions of the hips. I felt how the body’s movement is rooted in the pelvis, the anatomical and energetic center of the human structure.
Since May I have felt overly slugglish and constantly tired and have gained a dress size. Throughout my life whenever I have had a new medical doctor, she would take one look at my “prominent neck” and order a battery of thyroid tests. These tests would then come back from the lab showing nothing to be out of the ordinary with the doctor staring intently at my supposedly goiter-like neck in disbelief. An herbalist whose wisdom I value gave me an herb called Ashwaganda. She told me thyroid dysfunction is “an epidemic” in North America and is often sub-clinical, meaning it does not show up on traditional tests.
But even when it feels like someone is sitting on my head, I can feel a soothing warm sensation in my hands and feet. I can feel the warmth of my skin inside a red bathrobe. I feel gentle cooling currents against my bare legs and my feet warm and protected by purple slippers.
Embodiment is one of the most delicious pleasures I know. When I’m walking I feel my feet in my shoes, noticing the cushioning between my feet and the ground. When on all fours doing hip circles, I feel sensation spinning out from my pelvis. The pelvic bowl is the crucible of creativity, sexuality, and spirituality. This triune nectar holds my ability to make form out of the formless, to choose to flow with Life’s waters.
Try this:Move your hips! Move them side-to-side, front-to-back and connect those movements by making circles. Notice how you feel as you move your body in this way. Then take out pen, paper, and a timer and free write about your experience, keeping your hand moving the whole time. Here’s to a world full of juicy, shameless, and unrepentant hips!
Dedication: I would like to dedicate this commentary to Mrs. Donna who died of breast cancer in her early forties some years ago.
Copyright 2009. Beandrea Terese Davis. Please check with author before reprinting.