Thoughts on Bhakti and the Vulnerability Threshold

More and more I am learning the wisdom of these human bodies and find faith in a greater intelligence than the mind can even compute and comprehend. Try these on for size. 

Consider the size of the human baby and the size of the human vagina. 

Thats right people. It does not add up. Hence why they call it a “miracle”. Consider the vast differences we see amongst each other from the outside and yet how we share nearly the same genetic code. A sea of humanity in a myriad forms. Consider the size of planet earth within the whole of the solar system. A mere speck of stardust compared to the totality of it all. 

Up until recently I have been rather nonchalant and casual about my plan for birth. I know the best made planned rarely go exactly as such and I also know that for thousands of years the female form has birthed humanity into being. So I have gone about my business and figure, well, I suppose I will do it too. 

Last week in our birth class I hit a wall. I am not talking a fatigue wall where you rest and recoup. I mean, The Wall. I turned to Elliot and said, “You know, I just don't think this is for me after all. Too messy. Too intimate.”

I had hit what I call an intimacy threshold. That place where you are like. “Nope. I’m good watching from the sidelines”. I wanted to run and hide and crawl myself under a rock. I wanted not a single pair of eyes to see what I was feeling or the me I was being asked and beckoned to bring forth. Because what I am being asked to do is all too vulnerable, raw and real. 

I watched the seven other couples try different labor positions and tools that were set up throughout our room that evening. And I watched myself stand and peer out of my own skin frozen. Paralyzed. Looking desperately for the sign saying “Turn Back Here.” As grace would have it, there is no sign. There is no back. There is no way out other than through. 


And so my intimacy threshold continues to be obliterated on a daily basis. In a the most awe inspiring and terrifying of ways. I suppose this is the true nature of Durga, the goddess, the great mother. 

Pregnancy has shown me the most deep and hidden reservoirs of internalized patriarchy inside myself. Imagine my horror as I come to realize that the most earthly and connected part of my own female form is the part I am most afraid to become and see revealed. Somewhere along the way, like many other women, I too have come to believe that the white virgin crowned in gold is better than the red messy drenched in tears. Pretty is better than honest. Angel is more revealed than animal.  

I am face to face with my own distaste for my bloody, brown, red, howling animal. My sense is, without her. Birthing will not be possible. If I was asking for a kind of re-wilding any where in my own psyche, the prayer is being answered whether I cognitively like it or not. 

This is the part of ourselves that is so raw and so awesome and so terrifying that we can barely look away nor can we look at it head on. It is that moment in the Bhagavad Gita when Arjuna wants to see the totality of Krishna only to find himself overwhelmed and begging for concealment once again. It seems to me as I stand on the precipice of experience and the edge of a new knowing that it is not just a baby that will be born, but a new version of woman. One that is more honest, more whole, more real.

Perhaps this intimacy threshold I speak of now is not the one between two lovers or partners or even in community for that matter. But between each of us as we come face to face with the concentrically deeper laces of our own selves.

This is the Bhakti path. The path of devotion. But the devotion is not to anything or anyone or any deity other than the innermost thrown of your own becoming. It is easy to love the beautiful, put together, organized, articulate, shiny, rose and vetiver scented version of myself who keeps her sheets and towels crisply folded and bleached white. But I wonder how easy it will be to love the forgetful, seeping, vulnerable, fullness. It seems to me that the path of devotion asks us not to crown another as Guru but instead to bow to each part of ourselves we birth, re-integrate and commune with. Bhakti is the path that asks us to strip away all other false gods and devote ourselves only, forever and continually to Love—the parts easy to love and the parts that make us turn away. 

In humaness

Livia Shapiro3 Comments