Is it possible that we all have a little Benjamin Button in us? What’s that you say—you think I am insane? Well you are not entirely off base with that assumption, since I did cry about my husband making a tuna fish sandwich this week, so I am starting to believe that rumor to be true (hormones are one hell of a drug). But hear me out, I think I have a case here. In the book and, later, the movie, Benjamin Button ages in reverse and therefore experiences life in a capacity that no one else around him can relate to. Using that same concept, but instead of the premise being the physical body, let’s examine the idea of the spiritual body or soul aging in reverse. I understand that this may be hard to visualize because we want something tangible, something more “real” to hold on to before we can start to categorize it as a possibility. So to help you out, I will give you a few scenarios that have made this concept “real” to me.
As most of you know, my husband and I are expecting a baby. I am currently in my 18th week, and let’s just say things are starting to “get real”. Along with the physical changes that my body is currently experiencing, my emotional and spiritual bodies are ever-expanding as well. I am not the first, nor will I be the last woman on earth to say “a baby changes your life”, but when I heard this phrase in the past, I pictured this “change” as the inside of my home covered in toys, a lack of vacations, and bags under my eyes the size of those suitcases I wasn’t packing. What I didn’t expect was my Buddha belly to be a physical representation of the life growing inside of me. Since finding out I was pregnant, I have had a growing desire to learn about life and all of its mystery. On a spiritual level there has been a deeper connection with my true self that I wasn’t prepared for or knew was available. This was all slowly but surely coming to the forefront throughout my first trimester, but eventually a particular instance pushed the pedal into overdrive.
On the afternoon of Sunday, April 26, 2015, I was sitting cross-legged surrounded by my classmates at our weekly meditation group. During the weeks leading up to this day, we had been taking turns discussing the events currently happening in our lives, and how we could all learn from them collectively. I knew each week that I had something to say, but for whatever reason I just wasn’t ready to share. But when our teacher Suchitra asked those of us who had not yet shared to raise our hands, I knew that day was going to be the day. So I told my truth.
Through a strained throat, I spoke about my fears in relation to my pregnancy. I told the class how I had decided to take the route of the unknown, not participating in elective testing in the first trimester and just trusting that everything would be ok. Well, trying to trust. I wanted so badly to believe my reasoning, and to fall deeper into the beauty of this mystery, but it seemed at every turn I was met with fear and strangling guilt. The guilt was becoming all-consuming, and the thought patterns that brought it on seemed impossible to avoid. “You don’t have a deep enough connection with your baby”, “but what if something is wrong, maybe I should protect myself from the pain”, “by protecting yourself you are distancing yourself”… this cycle of voices in my head continued for weeks. When I spoke my truth out loud it helped ease the burden, but I just wanted to get rid of it. I wanted a five-step program.
That was when I heard the words that immediately shifted my perspective: “This baby is and always will be, your greatest teacher”. The moment those words were spoken by Suchitra, it was like the levy broke. I sobbed. I sobbed from a part of me that I didn’t know existed. I sobbed from a place of great understanding. I understood in that moment exactly what she was saying. Because although I am currently a student of this life, I too am someone’s greatest teacher, I simply have forgotten my lesson plans.
The wonderful thing about this realization is that you don’t need to be pregnant or even be a woman to know this to be true. We have all had our turn in being our parents’ greatest teacher. Some of the things we taught them were skill-based knowledge like learning how to feed us or understanding what a particular cry meant, but the teachings that I am talking about are of a much deeper level. For example, the lesson I am currently learning is “Be still; the quieter you become the more you can hear.” In our lives we are constantly on the move; whether it is physically or mentally, our society is perpetually distracted. It wasn’t until I became aware of my teacher that I understood the beauty that is found in stillness. For it is when I am sitting or lying in intended stillness, that I become highly attuned to the movement of life inside of me.
I find this concept to be beautifully ironic. The fact that we teach our greatest lessons while we are still veiled in innocence and adolescence is so inspiring. Because much like Benjamin Button, we may no longer look the same as when we first came into this world, but it doesn’t mean that the core of our soul has changed. Like Eckhart Tolle once said, “All things that truly matter- beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner-peace — arise from beyond the mind.” I find this to be the greatest insight, and you can see this being acted out in young children. They do not see the world through the lens of the mind, but of the soul, so their experiences cannot be overshadowed by fears and tangled in safety nets. It is only when we experience life through our older, more experienced minds that this happens. The deeper understanding of who we are and why we are here is not lost when we leave childhood, we just have to learn to be still enough to hear it.