Not too long ago I was eavesdropping on a conversation between two women, not just any women mind you, these were intelligent, attractive, accomplished, feminists in their mid-sixties. They were women I admired!
They were talking about their bodies, the conversation was blowing my mind. And not in a good way.
They were spewing the same bullshit I'd heard, and said myself since middle school. I guess I expected more from them. I had hoped that by the time I was in my sixties I would have reconciled my love-hate relationship with my body. I'd been working on it for years and I was not willing to spend another 20 years struggling with the same battle.
I wanted to LOVE MY BODY! I wanted to luxuriate in the freedom of not needing to fit anyone else's idea of beauty. I wanted to celebrate the powerful goddess within all women!
But instead I'd grown accustomed to compartmentalizing my body into good and bad; hating on a little patch of cellulite, appreciating a curve but hating that extra roll, only loving my skin when my complexion was clear... and on and on.
Hating on your body is never a good thing. Have you seen Dr. Masaru Emoto's pictures of water crystals and their reaction to negative and positive thoughts? If you haven't, check it out. His study concludes that water actually responds to thoughts and feelings. When observed under a microscope, water that has been spoken to positively will create beautiful, complex, and colourful snowflake patterns. Whereas, water spoken to negatively will create incomplete patterns with dull colours.
Knowing that our bodies are made up of primarily water, and water responds to our thoughts and feelings, what do you think happens when we direct hateful thoughts towards it? Nothing good, that's for sure. We are basically poisoning our systems, and diminishing our beauty in the process.
Back to my smart, mid-sixties lady friends. Hearing those beautiful women hate on their bodies was truly disappointing but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to finally kick my negative programming in the ass. I couldn't bear to be shackled by society's standards of beauty anymore. I was done picking myself apart. Done critiquing myself in the mirror. Done letting the media determine what was accepted as beautiful and what wasn't. Fuck that. This was my body and I was going to love every ounce of it.
For those of you who have struggled with body issues, you know how hard it can be to break that pattern. It took me years! Like, two and a half decades. But I can honestly say that when I look in the mirror now, I see the person that I am, not the segregated parts. And I love myself, inside and out. Which feels incredible!
What did it for me, was hearing my ladies compartmentalizing their bodies, loving certain parts and excluding 'less attractive' areas. I realized that to be free of the negative body talk, that plagued so many women, I needed to see myself as whole, not separate parts, and to recognize that my body was inextricably linked to my inner being, it was the expression of all my thoughts and feelings. I needed to nurture and cultivate my love for who I was inside and it would naturally radiate out of me.
Seems obvious, right? Why then, are so many women still focusing on their external bodies in the hopes that it will bring them internal joy? That's like taking kayak lessons when you want to learn how to swim. Joy can only be cultivated internally and it will naturally radiate out of you.
As Roald Dahl said, "If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
Embodying this awareness catapulted me into clearing my programming once and for all. I was just going to love myself no matter what. I was not going to buy into the superficial (external) values of beauty. I was going to celebrate my inner being. I cannot express how liberating that moment was, it was a simple awareness but it led to a fierce commitment, to practice self–love on the daily, and it has completely changed my relationship with myself and everyone else around me.
When the rush from that moment subsided, I re–evaluated everything that had influenced my gradual growth toward self–love and there were 5 things that stood out as pinnacles in my development.
1. STOP THE HATE TALK. Stop saying negative things about you or your body. Just stop. Stop talking about your body in sections, stop segregating it. Stop focusing your attention on the areas that you don't like. Stop commiserating with other people about their dissatisfaction with their bodies, instead, take that opportunity to support them in feeling a sense of gratitude for it.
2. PRACTICE APPRECIATION. Isn't it amazing that your heart beats every single day and night, continuously, without any effort on your part! All your organs function without any conscious thought. Your lungs breathe for you, taking in oxygen and nourishing your cells, exhaling carbon dioxide and nourishing the plants we will eventually eat. Your senses take in the world around you, bringing magic and mystery into your life; allowing you to feel the gentle caress of a sea breeze on a hot summer's day, to see the glowing orange fire of a blazing sunset, to hear the sweet sound of a baby laughing and to taste the flavours of your favorite foods. Your body is an incredible gift! Be thankful that you have one, EVERY DAY.
3. TAKE CARE OF IT. Mindfully. Consider the food you are eating, is it truly nourishing you or are you just trying to fill your belly? How about your physical activity, do you get enough exercise? A simple 20 minute brisk walk a day is a great way to support your body's wellbeing. Do you ever treat yourself to a massage? Bodies need to be touched. How about your physical self–care, do you bathe mindfully; with attention to the process or are you just going through the motions? Try washing yourself as if you were washing someone else, someone that you really care about. Be kind to yourself. And sleep often, the body does most of its healing while you're sleeping so make time for it.
4. MOVEMENT THERAPY. One of my favourite medicines is dance. If you aren't comfortable dancing, if you've created a negative story around your abilities as a dancer, it's time to let that go. Next time you're alone at home, put on some music you can't resist moving to and just allow yourself to sway or bounce or shake to it. As long as you are moving your body you are dancing, there is no right or wrong, good or bad, it is all about connecting your heart to the music, and that can look like anything so go with it. If dancing just isn't your thing then try Yoga or Qigong or Aikido or Kickboxing, just get your body moving in a mindful way and from the heart.
5. MEDITATION. If you haven't already incorporated a meditation practice into your life, now is the time. Meditation allows you to create space between your thoughts, the more you practice the bigger the space gets, and it is within that space that you can access the most profound love. All the magic in the universe exists in that space, and the more you cultivate it the more your life will radiate its magnificence. If you need help getting a meditation practice started, contact me.
Practice loving yourself each and every day so that you can shine brightly and live a deliciously free life full of magic.
There is only one you, and the world needs you just as you are! You are much loved.