“Oh, I could never love my body! But I hope to be able to accept it one day if I’m lucky.” This is a statement I hear often. Up until last week, my response has generally been along the lines of, “Getting past acceptance to loving your body is possible—it’s something everyone can have. It just takes practice.”
What happened last week that changed my response, you ask?
I was driving home from the mountains, alone. I had just dropped off my daughter for her solo backpacking trip, thinking about how much I wished I, too, could be alone in the woods. Upon reflection, I realized that my wilderness fantasy was mostly just a craving for silence. I turned off the radio and put my phone on silent. And, equally important, I asked my mind to refrain from running work thoughts through my head. Through these actions, I created many miles of conscious silence; space and time to let my intuition out to play. And then, out of the silence, I heard:
I hadn’t been thinking about the topic, but there it was, and it struck me as profound. I’ve been pondering the idea ever since, trying it out on my relationship with my own body, and have concluded that this revelation has the potential to help people radically change the way they relate to their bodies.
Here’s how the concept works for me: I love my body. I love it because it gives me life, plain and simple. I wouldn’t be on the planet without it. I love my body because it lets me experience some really pleasurable things. Even if I ignore its needs, my body is there for me, doing everything it can to keep me alive. It is my home. I am not separate from it. We are one.
Do I accept my body in every moment? Absolutely not. But I’m working at it. Right now I’m practicing acceptance of the changes that are happening due to the passage of time. Some days it’s damned hard.
I love my body. I love it because it gives me life, plain and simple. I wouldn’t be on the planet without it.
I am a post-menopausal woman bombarded with messages telling me that the changes my body is experiencing now make me ugly, and that I should “fix” myself by any means possible, even at the risk of my health, my life. If I’m lucky, I’ll be an old woman someday. But now, as I see my body transforming before my very eyes, my work is to practice acceptance of this precious physical home of mine that is growing old.
Think about your relationships with the people who are in your heart. You love them, that’s a given. But do you accept them in every moment? Do you like everything they do? Are you happy in all moments with them? Unless you’re the Dalai Lama, then probably not. There can be moments when we don’t even want to be around those we love. But there they are, in our lives. Growth happens when we transform our frustrations with our loved ones into acceptance, and this is what propels us towards being more Dalai Lama-like!
I ask you now to contemplate your most important relationship of all—the one you have with your body. A gentle reminder here that you are together for the rest of your life; may it be long.
Sometimes I’ll see my reflection in a mirror and have a “yikes!” moment. When this happens, I consciously pause and look at myself from a deeper, more soulful place because I remember that my eyes are trained by the bizarre culture I live in to see ugliness. I tap into my vast loving presence and usually hear something like, “Oh, you’re having a bad body moment. That’s okay. You’re going to be just fine. You are so much more than your reflected image. Remember your purpose. Get on with your day.” I can almost feel loving arms wrapped around me, rocking me gently.
This is followed by the acceptance work, which is not always so easy. Some techniques I use are things like finding clothes that feel especially good on my body that day, or doing somatic meditation where my attention is focused on every single cell in my body and bringing it nourishment, or going out in nature, which is my first go-to when I think something is “wrong” with my body! And some days I just struggle, and that’s part of loving my body, too.
Whatever it is about your body you’re struggling with, try this: Love first, then acceptance. What do you have to lose?
I’d love to hear your reaction to this idea. Please share your comments with me on our Facebook post. I look forward to having a conversation with you there.
And I ask again: How would your life change if you could maintain a deep sense of love for your body, even when you’re unhappy with how you see it?