Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do You 'Have a Dream'?

I was driving home Sunday night with the radio on and excerpts of of Martin Luther King's 'I Have a Dream' speech came over the airwaves. Though I thought I knew the speech well, I heard it with different ears this time. It was amazing to me how clear and emphatic he was about something that must have seemed impossible at the time: that black and white children should be able to play together, that men should be judged by their character and not by the color of their skin. He spoke with such conviction, it was as if he was experiencing his dream as already true, as needing to be true. In his mind and heart this was the only way it should be.

I wonder how many of the greatest achievements in life start with this clarity of conviction, with the ability to put our minds in the place of already having accomplished the goal, seeing it done, and living in that new reality. Rosa Parks sat on that bus without asking whether or not she should be allowed to. All over the world, people fighting for new ways of being have had to step into them before they were given permission to do so. Slowly, over time, the walls came down.

What is your dream for how you'll feel in and toward your body in the coming months and years? What would you like to be different than it is now? As we enter a new year, take some time to write out for yourself what you'd like to be different about how you relate to and feel in your body. Would you like to be more connected? To trust it more? To be able to listen and have compassion for what it needs?

We can't get to the future we most want by continuing to believe in the reality we feel stuck in now. Give yourself a handhold into something new. What will it feel like when you feel great in your body? How will you be seeing and experiencing the world differently? What will be different about your breathing, your movement, what it feels like to look in the mirror or walk down the street? Let that dream permeate you until it feels as real as possible, as if it's already here. Let yourself not only have the dream but live it as if it were true.

This is what Martin Luther King did for all of us, and it's what we need to learn to do for ourselves whenever we step into something new, something that we deeply want but can't yet see. Take a moment to make a list of the qualities--the pieces of your 'dream'--you'd like to bring to your body relationship this year: hope, trust, kindness, cooperation, love. Then feel in your body what it's like to let each of those qualities be a part of how you relate to your body now. What does trust feel like or look like? Being loving or gentle? No great dream exists in the abstract. We need to will it into being now.

Surely there are obstacles to any dream we have--things to overcome, to negotiate, to fight for. But sitting in the car hearing Martin Luther King's voice, I was also amazed at how many of his dreams have come true. Speak and write the dreams you have for the body relationship you most want. Feel how your body responds. Stay committed to that vision. Notice how you can keep it present for yourself, even when times get tough and part of you could slip into criticism or being at war with yourself. Remember how it feels in your body to be connected, alive and loving.

You can do this. You have a dream.
That means much more than you think.