Wednesday 16 May 2012

In which I am undone by love

It’s no secret that I love ila products.  In a world of fudges and half-truths and compromises, this stuff shines out pure and clear with integrity and authenticity. Okay, it’s not cheap but then, more and more I think I’d rather have one truly wonderful thing than a whole bunch of cheap bits of nonsense.  In the field of beauty we’re sold so much crap, truly we are. So many lies.  Anyhow, this isn’t a sales pitch – like I’ve said before, they don’t pay me. There are just some businesses that so chime with me that I love to shout about them. 
But, funny thing, I’d never had an ila treatment.  
‘Let’s fix that,’ said Philly Vass, their adorable PR.  Okay, I can hear your thoughts - you think all PRs are grasping bitches who only love you when you’re a columnist on a daily?  Well, mainly you have a good point but Philly really is different.  She turns down lucrative accounts if they don’t chime with her core values. And she’s stuck with me over my year of being entirely bonkers.  Plus she has a pug puppy.  Enough said.
‘You have to see Holly.’ 
‘I do?’
So we had a coffee at Paul in Marylebone and then she walked me to Gielly Green (one of those slightly intimidating hairdressing places) and introduced me to Holly who was about half my size and not remotely intimidating.

‘My job is done,’ said Philly with a knowing smile, and left us together.  
I felt nurtured before I’d even taken off my boots. If you’re a spa or massage virgin, I beg you, please, go see Holly.  One thing I think so many therapists and spas get wrong is that they don’t tell you exactly what to do.  And I figure that’s what puts a lot of people off.  But with Holly, there is no guesswork involved. There is no need to do anything in fact except let go and just be.
Her room was a small temple, a womb-like cocoon of sensory soothing. Softly lit, warm, embracing. Scents enveloped me – some familiar, some not so. And music, one of the gently captivating ila CDs that I love so much.
As I sat swathed in a thick towel, she knelt and bathed my feet in such a rapt honouring that it almost brought tears to my eyes. It put me in mind of Mary washing the feet of Christ.  Her attention was totally there – I felt noticed and blessed – elevated yet humbled. Then I lied me down on the couch, naked under the softest, warmest fluffy towels (honestly, you don’t feel exposed or weird, trust me on this) and she started the ‘kundalini’ massage.
I’ll be honest, I’m not sure what I expected but it wasn’t this.  She didn’t say a word, just started touching my back, so so gently.
I wanted to beg her to go harder, dig deeper. As I've said before, I like my massage hard and tough: it’s why I tend to prefer male bodyworkers. But then the fight just kind of went out of me and I was simply slayed by gentleness, beguiled by softness.
It felt like some kind of initiation into an ancient feminine mystery. A benediction. A soft yet insistent teasing apart of all the toughness, a dismantling of all the harsh walls. She got under my defences, not by smashing them down but by soft insistent love. 
Strange images flashed up.  At one point I ‘saw’ her extract some horrible insect. It was so clear and visceral I nearly started off the couch. And oh,when she touched my heart area, there were deep stabs of pain - not from her hands, but oh so deep inside. I was undone. Tears rose and then quietly dispersed.
When she was finally finished (oh too soon, too soon) and I sat sipping a glass of water, she looked at me with huge compassion.
‘Tell me,’ I whispered. ‘Tell me.’
‘You’re so guarded,’ she said softly. ‘Your poor, poor heart.’
I nodded. ‘I know.’

And as I sat on the top of the 73 bus on the way back to Jane’s flat, I felt a wave of sadness wash over me - like the rain outside. And no, don’t start thinking, ‘Oh, poor Jane, how awful’ because really it was lovely. An opening up.  A softening. Because I’d been building up my carapace again, thinking I needed to be oh so tough; to not feel, not trust, not dare to open. And something a friend had said had been worrying at me. She said she was trying to think more like a man, to compartmentalize, to attach less importance to the whole experience of relating. And while I understand that, I felt, very strongly it wasn’t the path for me.

I have been oh so masculine in so many ways in my life, oh so tough. So in control. I’ve dismissed and diminished the soft feminine, the woman in me. Maybe it’s time for her to smile shyly and emerge from the shadows. 

“In the midst of loneliness, in the midst of fear, in the middle of feeling misunderstood and rejected, is the heartbeat of all things, the genuine heart of sadness… We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering, we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated.”  The love that will not die, Pema Chodron. 


Anonymous said...

Dear Jane,
Have you ever heard of a man called Martin Aylward? He has a retreat centre near where I live, in the deepest depths of la France profonde. If you google him you'll get to le moulin de chaves (not chav, ok?) and there's a list of MP3 dharma talks to download. Start with the Deepening of Attention. It might help. It helped me.
From one Jane to another, I wish you all good things...

Posie said...

Jane you are so jammy getting an Ila treatment....I just love the Ila cream that you sent me. Big glad the treatment went well.

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Exmoorjane said...

@Jane - No, I haven't but I will find him. Thank you. :)

@Posie - I know... :) And thank you.

@Good bike shops in london - whatever, dear friend. :D