The Dangers of Teflon vs. A Good Wok (not really about cooking...)

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

Several years ago, I was sitting in a circle of people in an exquisite outdoor jungle yoga studio at one of the most beautiful retreat centers in Costa Rica, maybe the world.  During an exercise about connecting and relating, one of the teachers, whom I had studied with earlier that season, told me that her experience of me was like Teflon. You know, the slippery, non-stick coating used on pots and pans. It wasn’t exactly a compliment. She made this observation with love as a direct and insightful way to make an impact with me.

It worked.

I’ve spent a lot of time with that statement.

The way I received it was that my humanness, my ego, my lizard brain, whatever you want to call it, is really good at looking good. It’s hard for me to know when my looking good is up to looking good because she’s so good at looking good it’s hard for me to see! Partly because I’d always done what anyone in a position of “authority” told me to do and wanted to do it better than anyone else. Teacher’s Pet to the core. You call me on me, I’ll have the right answer.

The other part was that in the process of processing, of deep interior work and inquiry, or attempting to connect at a deep level, people can have the experience of me being “slippery” with criticism or observation or feedback or connection. I didn’t let it land in me or allow myself the full experience and depth of feeling. I was great at taking it, “Oh yes, I can see that,” and holding it just far enough away to not let it touch me. It might sting, and cause a jolt of emotion, but taking it in and using it to scan my life to see all the places it might be showing up, and who it might be impacting, could cause extreme pain. I couldn’t let it connect. And I couldn’t see it. Didn’t have access to it at all. Perfectionist to the core.

I was so good at letting everything just slide right past me. I took pride in it. Yep, nothing sticks to me. I can handle anything.

What I learned was the distinction between letting things go from a place of distancing myself from pain, and taking the learning from the pain of what’s happening, then letting go of what doesn’t serve me. Surrender to what is ... then let go. Instead of projecting a constant state of slippage. There’s a huge difference.

At the time, I was not equipped to handle what I might find if I let it sink in and really looked at myself. (Later in this trip, I had an experience that changed my life. You can read about that here.)

I could talk theory and philosophy and information and witness others all day long. And I could give you the answer of what I thought someone like me should say.

But not what I had to say. From a place of deep connection with my Self. From the Who I Am, which is underneath all the layers of who I think I am. From what I feel. What aligns for Me. Being in the totality of darkness and light and all shades in between.

Now to be clear, I’m not saying we take something we see to upgrade and have it “stick” in order to beat ourselves up with it. No. Let it land. Feel the full spectrum of what happens in your relationship to that thing. Swirl it around. Then use it as an ingredient for creating a full-flavored experience. Let it pass through you and around you. See it for what it is without judgment. (Hmmm...salty.) Use it. Alchemy.

I was so afraid of what might happen, who would see me, what they would see, what they would think, if I allowed myself to fully embody and show up as the depth of who I am, with all the layers and flavors, and where I can go.

The result of not allowing? Of letting go of the control I thought I had?

No flavor.

No texture.

No color.

No vitality.

Vanilla.

Nothing or no one has the full experience of me. Including...well...me.

 

Teflon.

One simple word. One great teaching.

Through the years, Teflon has caused me to be with these questions, and I invite you to enter them as well:

  • Am I fully expressing who I am with every body of my Being?
    • Physical body? Emotional body? Mental body? Spiritual body?
  • Am I giving ALL of me in my relationships?
  • Am I holding back? Am I slippery?
  • Where am I holding back?
  • How is this impacting the other person(s)?
  • What would it look like for me to FULLY embody and show up as the flavorful, colorful, vibrant, radiant feminine Being that I am, in all the areas of my life?

 

With the appropriate care and attention, a good, authentic wok is meant to last a lifetime. It’s made to allow things to be held and cooked with different levels of heat in different placements on the pot. Food sticks some places and not others. The more the wok is used, the better it gets. More flavor. Well-oiled. It has history. It is capable of holding everything it is given at once, for the purpose of nourishment.

A wok is cleaned only with warm water and a cloth, then lightly oiled during storage, to keep the flavors and textures (and love) of all that has been cooked infused into the surface to be transferred to future meals. If it’s scrubbed with heavy soap and made too clean and slippery, the depth and layering of flavors will be lost. The meal won’t taste quite as rich.

Scrape away the excess, keep the essence.

 

With bold, juicy love,

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