Self-Deletion Becomes Self-Respect

A note from Erin:
Good day!
One of the powerful aspects of my professional Feldenkrais training was learning this truth: I have to be at least as tuned into myself as I am to my client if I am to be of benefit.

Often I need to have 50% or more of my attention on my own comfort, ease, connectedness in my interactions with others.
It was a huge learning for me, because, like so many people in our culture, I had grown up practicing what one of my teachers called “self-deletion.” That meant that if I was paying attention to someone else (or the computer, or a task at hand, or fill in the blank…) I was not paying very much attention to myself in an embodied way.
Do you ever do this?

If you’re caring for someone else, do you set your own well being aside?

If you’re working on a task, do you consider how you’re feeling as you do it, you just “get ‘er done?” 

If there’s a life-situation that demands a lot of your attention, do you “self-delete?”
Luckily we can learn to do something different. It continues to be a profound learning for me.


Self-deletion can mature into self-respect.

Self-respect can mature into self-care.

Self-care can mature into care for the world.
How amazing to learn that I do my best work in the world when I am embodied, when I am deeply connected with myself and my own living experience, moment to moment.

And not only when I am aware and embodied, but when I am oriented toward ease, pleasure, efficiency, even grace. Taking care of not only my bodily comfort, but my inner life as well, offering “hello sweetheart” to all the tender and difficult feelings that might arise.

Is it really true that we have to choose between being able to tune into our own lives OR being available to the “others” in our world? 

Can they both be alive in our experience at the same time?
I’m discovering that it’s so. What a relief!
I love the point made by Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi when he said something like this:
“The “I” is just a swinging door between the outer world, which is infinite, 
and the inner world, which is infinite.” 

Can I invite you to do an experiment? If the invitation resonates and seems helpful, try it!

In your day today, I invite you to join me and practice, as often as you can remember, having at least as much awareness on yourself as you do on whatever you’re attending to “outside yourself.” 
It’s not a focused attention I’m inviting – not a trying, striving kind of attention.
But an easy, open inclusive attention – which can be gently oriented toward wellbeing for you and your world.
Here’s a great question that can sponsor the experiment:

How much pleasure and satisfaction do you dare to wish for in what you do? 

When I ask this, it’s not some abstract concept of pleasure and satisfaction.
It’s as simple, direct and real as how comfortable can you dare to be while you read this?

Can you notice how hard you grip the steering wheel, or how effortlessly you might grasp a pen when writing?
When you interact with another person, can you attend to your own physical comfort as well as the conversation?  Your breathing? Can you include the other and the interaction as well as your own inner-life and your feeling response and care for it all?
How might you make time for little shifts that increase your energy and enjoyment through the day? Your sense of connectedness with your self?

Ease and satisfaction can be sought (and found) in so many places, if we give our care to the moment, and realize it needn’t be a big project, but can be as simple as a tiny shift right now. 

As that great saying goes, “If you take care of the minutes, the years take care of themselves.” 
For me it’s a truly fruitful ongoing learning edge. I hope you enjoy the experiment!


Oh, of course I have to add a snippet of a poem. Here’s an excerpt from one of my all-time favorite Mary Oliver poems, “To begin with, the sweet grass.” Here is part 7:
What I loved in the beginning, I think, was mostly myself.
Never mind that I had to, since somebody had to.
That was many years ago.
Since then I have gone out from my confinements,
though with difficulty.
I mean the ones that thought to rule my heart.
I cast them out, I put them on the mush pile.
They will be nourishment somehow (everything is nourishment
somehow or another).
And I have become the child of the clouds, and of hope.
I have become the friend of the enemy, whoever that is.
I have become older and, cherishing what I have learned,
I have become younger.
And what do I risk to tell you this, which is all I know?
Love yourself.  Then forget it.  Then, love the world.
p.s. We are really excited for Russell Delman’s workshop next month. He’ll be teaching on just this. “I and we: Exploring the relationship of self, other and the world.”  The workshop March 20-22 is beginning to fill, so please register soon to reserve your spot.  We’re super excited to be hosting his Friday evening talk (free or by donation) at Centered City Yoga this time, and for the talk there’s no need to register. If you’re interested in the full weekend, you can find details and a registration link below.

P.P.S. We’ve just added some details for one of the few workshops we’ll be doing in 2015.   Mark your calendar for:

Saturday April 25th 10am-5pm for an afternoon exploring Elegant & Effective Eye Lessons! A daylong workshop at Vitalize exploring the power of your eyes to improve all your movement.  (And a fundraiser to give theGift of Sight!) We’re super excited about it! More details soon….
When we want to feel courageous, more than we want to check accomplishments off our list . . . When we want to feel free, more than we want to please other people . . . When we want to feel good more than we want to look good . . . then we’ve got our priorities in order. Divine priorities-the kind that will steer you to the life you long for most deeply.
– Danielle LaPorte
We'd love it if you'd consider sharing with your networks.
Share on Facebook
Pin on Pinterest
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
Email this to someone
Share on Google+
Don't miss a single post. Sign up here to get them delivered straight to your inbox.
Posted in


By training and profession, I am a somatic educator. Over the past 25+ years I have trained in and taught modern dance, tai chi, Indian and Tibetan yoga, yoga therapy (specializing in back pain). I completed a 4-year professional Feldenkrais training in 2007 and a 3-year Embodied Life training in 2014. I also study and work with somatic meditation and the profound practice of embodied inner listening known as Focusing.

Leave a Comment