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Looking for a Soul --I mean, Wedding Dress

Posted Feb 01 2011 12:00am

 I am watching "What Not to Wear" and trying to figure out who in my life I could fenagle into nominating me for a make-over, but unfortunately I'm not a moon-boot wearing recovering alcoholic/former party girl or an adult woman who dresses like a 12 year old, so I don't know if I'd really be eligible.  (Though there are days people, there are days...I think if Stacy London were to see me on the street on one of my fuzzy-hair cowboy boots and stretch pants days...she might consider me a viable candidate for the show).

But you know what's sad, it's not even the CLOTHES that I covet, it's the change-your-life via wardrobe makeover that is so seductive.  And here we have the secret pull of all of these competition reality shows...whether it's losing weight or changing your look or remodeling your house, the unspoken (or hell, sometimes very spoken) agreement is that the contestants will undergo some kind of soul transformation by way of improved body/clothes/living situation.  Which is just...it's the big lie that pervades everything.  Take care of this one sticky spot in your life...fill that one black hole, and VOILA!  Instant and total rebirth.

This, it turns out, is also the secret promise behind BUYING A WEDDING DRESS.

Seriously, people...if you're a married or affianced woman you may know what I'm talking about (so just gimme an AMEN), because when you step into a bridal boutique you very quickly get initiated into the mythology of finding the perfect dress.  It's like some strange tribal reenactment of the search for a mate.  Scan the field for what attracts you, bring some of your favorites into the back room for a "try on", parade them out in front of your female friends (maybe even your mother!), get the assessment from the peanut gallery and then engage in a lot of conversation about how you'll "know it when you see it", and how you have to "wait for the right one"...etc., etc., etc.  Until finally that magic moment arrives when you've found your perfect match!  And everyone cries!  And then you hand over more money than you've ever spent on any single item of clothing ever in your life.

Phew!  (I haven't done that last part yet...)

I've been feeling some frustration about the above lately (not just the dress part...the whole strange world of the wedding industrial complex), but I'm trying to wave my magic yoga wand over the whole situation and realize that part of the whole FANTASY that surrounds being a bride, getting married, making some kind of "perfect" day, is born from the same desire that makes us think a brand new wardrobe and a better haircut can change our lives.  We want transformation. We want transformative acts and events to populate our lives.  And somewhere, deep down, we all think that if we can just get this one thing (or one day) RIGHT, then maybe all the other stuff that clouds our vision will lift.

But the truth is that a new wardrobe soon turns old, hair grows out, houses age, and even a perfect wedding dress eventually gets put away somewhere to gather dust.  And if there's one overarching goal of the yoga practice, it is to wake us up to the reality that the most vital, beautiful, perfectly matched thing you can hope to acquire is your own quiet sleeping soul.  For me, this has been the greatest gift of the practice...that as much as I might WANT to want some outer vehicle for my own satisfaction, I have felt my heart open (sometimes only for a moment) and in the face of that, everything else pales in comparison.
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