|image courtesy tqn.healing|
This past weekend I attended an intensive seminar on Body Psychology taught by Erin Byron, director of the Yoga Life institute in Ontario, Canada and a yoga therapist who got her masters in studying the benefits of gentle yoga in treating post-traumatic stress disorder. It was 18 hours long spread out over the course of 3 days and it was... intense. AND truly one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. (I'd say it's one of the top 3 peak experiences I've had so far!) We did slllooowwwwwww movement, breathing, lots of resting and relaxation, journaling, creative drawing exercises, body scans and visualizations. We shared our experiences in large and small group activities. It was healing on every level (physically, mentally, psychologically, and spiritually) and it was great to be honest with and connect to others about our journeys in accepting our bodies and our pain.
It's hard for me to explain what I experienced this weekend, even though I have pages and pages and pages of notes and journaling activities and drawings (we drew images of what the pain in our bodies looked like from the inside.) What I learned this weekend was through direct experience and therefore no words I have can adequately capture the healing that took place. Much of what I learned though was trusting how wise and all-knowing my body is and has always been since before I even came out of my mom's belly. We often to do not listen to our bodies. In fact, we are programmed to not listen to our bodies. Yet, our bodies are so much more wise than our minds, than the collective mind (otherwise known as - "what everybody else is doing")! And after this weekend, I realize that ignoring my body is what causes mental sickness and illness. Likewise, thinking and holding negative thoughts about my body causes physical pain in my body.
|image courtesy Dove Campaign, Love Your Body|
Our bodies are our greatest teachers; they already hold within them the wisdom we need. We do not need to search outside of ourselves for anything; all of the information we need is already in our cells, our organs, our tissues, our internal worlds. Accepting our bodies and listening to our bodies is paramount to our health. Our bodies are always whispering to us, pay attention and listen closely.
YES, we are more than our bodies and our minds - lots more. Our deepest Selves (the Truth) transcend our physical sheaths and our mental turbulences AND we have bodies and minds. Can we accept this? We must. We must accept this truth, that we go through life having a body and a mind AND that our deepest Self is beyond body or mind. Trusting that life is deeper and greater than what we can think of or touch or smell or feel or taste or see or look like or wear, is important to our health as whole beings. We are not yet beams of sunlight wafting through the air, we haven't left these bodies. For now, they are our homes. So we are here to nurture them, take care of them, cradle them, protect them and listen to them. We must accept these simple truths:
We have bodies.
We have minds.
Our bodies experience pain WHEN our minds churn with negative thoughts.
Try this. Say the statement below outloud or quietly to yourself three times or more.
"I deeply and profoundly accept my body and its functions."
How does that feel in your body? To say that? Maybe you do not believe that statement yet but it is ok. You have planted the seed and the seed will grow in time, with practice, patience, loving kindness and nurturing. Write it on a piece of paper. Tape it to your mirror or right beside your bed in a place you can see it first thing in the morning.
|image courtesy globalartstore.com|
Be aware of all the negative thoughts and beliefs you have about your body, what has happened to your body and what your mind does to your body. Just simply be aware. Be aware of what it feels like in your body to think negatively and try replacing the thoughts with kindness. Kind thoughts create peace. And inner peace is our true Self. Stay connected to your true Self by regulating and staying aware of the mind's thoughts.
We often have the thought, "when I look like the models in the magazines, then I will feel at peace." This is not true. Or, "if I look perfect and like a movie star, then I will be loved or feel loved." Or "if I get all straight A's then I will get a high-paying job and afford nice things and then people will love me and I will be happy." This is not true. It is not true because love and peace and happiness are not emotions that anyone or any one THING can give you. It is self-generated and comes from the Self.
No one can make you feel lasting peace (or lasting sadness for that matter.) Certainly not some guy or some girls that tell you you are beautiful or become your friends/boyfriend simply because you "look good" according to one body structure. Those people are wrestling the same alligator-thoughts in their minds because, and here is another truth, each of us has a different body structure. And yet the magazines and the models all fall within the same category of body structure. Are you willing to accept that? Are you willing to accept what Hollywood and Haute Couture and the media are trying to brainwash you into believing? That ONE body structure is beautiful? Hell. No. Protect your body. Protect your mind. Wake up to the truth.
|image courtesy Dove Campaign, Love Your Body|
Just like you choose healthy foods most of the time, CHOOSE to consume health, truth and wholeness. Surround yourself with those who have a healthy attitude towards beauty. Have and share meaningful experiences. Try something new that isn't exercise related. Do gentle hatha yoga. Breathe. Enjoy and relax around food. Let go of perfection. Let go of control. Allow yourself to soak in the richness of simply being. There is nothing you need to change. Nowhere you need to go. There is nothing "wrong with you" that needs to be "fixed." You are whole and perfect as you are right now. That is the Truth. Whether you believe it yet or not, it is true.