We know true beauty comes from within. Physical appearance doesn't really matter, but let's face it: we are beings - human, spiritual, however you choose to define it - in a physical body. It's part of the ride. It's not separate. Perhaps the way we look really doesn't matter, but the personal perception of our looks does.
We must come to terms with our own body in order to be happy within it, but apathy isn't the answer. I doubt it's even possible for most. Plus, this implies disregard, and I believe in treating ourselves with compassion instead.
These are the in-real-life ways I am learning to love my body and celebrate it. I'll admit it: looks don't matter just doesn't cut it for me. My issues are deep-rooted and aesthetic pressures are thrust in my face daily, so this golden rule alone doesn't touch the core of it. Instead, I am finding that simple, yet specific, actions help shift my perspective.
Don't avoid my body. Embrace it.
Connect to it.
#1 Don't Avoid It. Embrace It.
A mirror separates us. We are looking from the outside in, but there is no way to be truly objective about ourselves. I needed to shift the way I approached my body.
Initially I committed to myself to not look in a mirror for 30 days. I didn't mean at all, but in the harsh, obsessive way I'd been practicing. My point was to step away from negative behavior and foster other relationships with my body. By the end of 30 days, I might see real changes in appearance; but more importantly, I wanted my perspective to point toward functional pursuits.
Days into this experiment I realized by avoiding my body, I was putting a negative connotation to it. I tried a different approach: LOVE. I didn't even say anything to myself. Every time I looked in the mirror, I simply caressed my stomach in a gentle way. I filled my mind with thoughts about healing my gut and connecting to my core. I nixed my 12% goal and replaced it with these. I incorporated this approach into breath and core work, actually placing my hands on my stomach or ribcage as I breathed deeply into these spaces. I conjured images of feminism and strength, because I Am These. I just needed to remind myself specifically and intentionally. We don't stop telling those around us we love them. Why do this to our bodies and ourselves?
My focus shifted back to the activities I love: climbing, yoga... I wanted to do these things not because I hated my body and needed to change it, but because I loved my body. Eventually I set goals and challenges, but first I simply put focus into having fun doing. As kids we didn't run to be skinny or lift to build muscle or climb to accomplish a grade, we did it because it was fun. We did it for the sake of playing.
How many mothers cringe at the proof of childbirth? Will you celebrate with love the miracle your body was able to accomplish instead? In what other ways do we avoid our bodies? How can we step back into them with compassion? Please continue the conversation below (or on Facebook or Instagram). Next week: #2 - connect to it.