I was talking to one of my sisters on the phone the other day and we started discussing our religious beads (she has rosaries & I mala) and how some are just too nice to use, how olive wood feels so right in your hand, &c. And she asked me what I say when I meditate. This was not a subject I wished to discuss. It was too personal, too close to me. Moments later, we were sharing tips regarding our periods, so apparently this is much more taboo to me than that.
C. L. Hanson linked me to a discussion of topless beaches in Europe which got me thinking about the amount of time I spent around the naked flesh of Europeans. I was telling my husband that I found it entertaining that Europeans still designated certain beaches as “nude” or “topless” since basically, anyone could do either at any with few complaints. This may be an exaggeration, but my personal experience was that, whenever I happened to be at a pool, I would have to travel through the women’s changing section. This had a few stalls for toilets but most everything else was open-air in the sense that there were no walls. I would be surrounded by naked women of all sizes and ages. And after a few such trips, I was naked, too. Shamelessly, one might say. But in the sense that I felt there was no shame in being naked while changing my clothes and neither did anyone around me. As CLH points out, it’s a matter of comfort level. And my level of comfort with my own nakedness (possibly thanks to time in Europe, possibly thanks to having 5 sisters & two bathrooms growing up) is very high. My response to people who might see me walking around naked in my house is if they’re looking into my house, they don’t get to be offended by what they see: whether it’s naked me or cats eating off our plates.
So you’d think I’m not a very private person. And yet. Here I am, with a nom de internet and a catch in my throat when my sister (who has most definitely seen me naked…probably even changed my diapers) asks me about my meditation practices. Maybe it’s because I’m afraid of what she’ll think of me (shame) but I really feel that this is one of the most private parts of me. I rarely speak of it to my husband (though if he asked, I’d tell him); nor do I ask him what he says when he meditates.
Many prayers are public in the sense that, if I want the complete text of the Our Father or an explanation of what it means, all I need is Google and 0.17 seconds. But what it really means to the person who is saying the words is not something that you can get from the internet. It’s not even something you can really get from talking to them. It’s between that person and their god(s).
And at the end of the day, that’s how I feel about religion in general: it’s between you and your god(s). You don’t need to tell me, you don’t need to put it on your car, you don’t need to even have a god or five. If it gets you through the hard times, if it gets you through the easy times, then I’m truly happy for you and those around you. But when we start to share our private neurosis and validate them, I think we wander into dangerous territory.