The following was a guest post that I did last July for Outlier Collective, which is now gone (Booo! I miss my friends over there very much), so I decided to re-post it because it’s a perfect representation of the BBB philosophy and is hopefully, helpful. 🙂
Picture this: A woman, say, in her late 40s, standing in front of a full-length mirror. This woman is grey-haired, heavy-built. She’s looking at her body, up and down and smiling, widely. She giggles, reaches down with both hands and grabs her full, chunky belly, squeezing it as she says to herself: “You are so friggen’ adorable!” This woman clearly loves her body and relishes its size, shape, and bearing. She’s clearly happy with how she looks and loves her girth, despite the fact that her body is “socially stigmatized” as undesirable, unattractive, and unhealthy by large segments of the population. She doesn’t care; at bottom, it doesn’t matter. She is fat. And, she’s completely fine with it. In fact, she’s madly, obnoxiously in love with her body.
Does this scenario seem improbable, maybe even impossible? It’s not. This demonstration of body-love is real and anyone can attain this state of being, regardless of circumstance, body state, fitness, appearance, or health. How do I know this? I’ve done it. The woman that I described above is me. And, if I can do it, anyone can do it.
How did I get to a place where I’m obnoxiously in love with my body? It wasn’t easy, I tell you. It took me years and years to get here. I write about it often on my blog. Ultimately, I think that I got sick of fighting. I got tired of dominating my body and criticizing her and measuring every mouthful of food and obsessing over how I looked. I got sick of caring what other people thought of me. I just got worn down by the struggle and the negative emotions, but beyond all of that, I wanted peace. I deeply wanted happiness. I didn’t want to feel so bad all of the time. I wanted to like my body and relax. I finally, finally let go, dropped my arms, and decided that if I had to be big (like my body so clearly wanted to be), I had to stay healthy. That was my only goal, my only concern, my only rule. And, I’m perfectly healthy, vibrant, active, and thrillingly alive at 5′ 5″ and 245 pounds. My blood pressure is always 110 over 60. I feel and look great.
So, why would any of us want to fall obnoxiously in love with our bodies? Lots of reasons. Primarily, acceptance. Acceptance of the self and others. Acceptance that the body is an integral part of our experience here as human beings and a vital tool, an important element in how we expand as spiritual beings. Without the body, we cannot do the work that we, as souls, crave doing and have come here to do.
At the periphery of our minds, we know that our lives mean something far bigger than our day-to-day concerns and struggles. We know there is a reason we are here. We know that we really should love our bodies, and yet so, so many of us hate our bodies or dislike key aspects of our physiques. So many of us, particularly women, struggle with the body and suffer, truly suffer over how our bodies look, measure up, or perform. Men have this affliction, too, but women. Oh, women. We are largely miserable creatures when it comes to the body. Women are so hard on themselves and by proxy, other women. It does not help that we have these plastic, air-brushed, and computer-manipulated images of “perfect bodies” barraging us from every flat surface.
We, as a species, so dislike the body that we have thousands, maybe millions, of industries devoted to altering, reducing, beautifying, and fixing it. Everything from drastic, brutal methods, such as compulsive exercise, plastic surgery, liposuction, and chemical peels to the less-severe skin and hair treatments, adornment, and concealing clothing. We so dislike our bodies that we mostly will not show what “real bodies” actually look like in advertising, films, art, and other media. This is, thankfully shifting in recent years, but we, for the most part, honor bodies that are not real or representative of the vast majority. We honor the seamless, the young, the endlessly underfed and photo-shopped aliens who peer placidly from the pages of fashion magazines and reality TV shows. So, when your body does not follow the socially agreed-upon convention of beauty, what then? You begin to despise it and this happens at a very early age in this culture.
I really believe that most people want to feel better, happier, more centered, balanced, and loving. Falling in love with your body is an excellent way to increase positive thoughts and emotions. Falling in love with your body is a perfect way to live a richer, happier, and more loving existence. It’s not easy to get there, but loving your body and honoring its needs, rhythms, messages, and life apart from you, the consciousness inhabiting it, is a delicious way to get deeper into why you are here as a human being. I argue that mankind cannot advance to his greatest potential without a healthy love or respect for the body.
So, how does one do this? Start small. Following are three ways to start falling obnoxiously in love with your body.
- Start with your thoughts and beliefs. Think about the beliefs, thoughts, and ideas that you have about your body. Where did these opinions come from and who influenced your ideas about the body? Think about your shape, fitness, and health. Are you happy when you think of your body or less than joyous? What are you wanting from your body that you do not have now? Think about it. Then, you can try sitting down and writing it all out. Write down how you feel about your body and how you want to feel. Do this so you can create a dialog with yourself and get comfortable thinking about your beliefs. Our beliefs hugely influence the way that we look. Yes, genetics plays a role and also environmental factors, but nothing affects the body greater than thought. If you can get to a place where you can more quickly pin-point an idea that does not serve you, you can change it.
- Understand that our cultural ideas about beauty have nothing to do with reality. I’m sorry, but women have cellulite. Women make babies. It’s a fact of life. We need some pudge. We need curves. Whoever came along and decided that cellulite was ugly and had to be air-brushed out probably had body issues, but that doesn’t mean that we have to accept this opinion. Nor do we have to shame our bodies because they don’t measure up to some false ideal of beauty. That is a choice that many of us make, but we can change it. Bodies are varied and multi-faceted and miraculous. Bodies serve us in the exact dimensions that we need in order to expand as spiritual beings. Sometimes those bodies need to be big and dense and sometimes small and light. It takes all kinds of bodies to make all of this living work. So, realize that the opinions we are being fed by way of the media are simply opinions of others, are to be heavily questioned, and do not have to be accepted.
- Realize that you are an electromagnetic being and a powerful creator here in this body. Your body is vital to the process of your expansion. The body is doing exactly what you have commanded of it by way of your thoughts and behaviors. If you continually crab about the shape of your body guess what you are concentrating on through your attention—the current shape of your body. This focus on the negative disallows any number of other realities of which your body is capable, because you are focused, with your thinking, on the problem, not the solution. Try instead to sit quietly for five to ten minutes per day and think of all the things that you appreciate about your current body. Send your body loving thoughts. Maybe you like your toned arms. Well, tell your body that. Maybe you love your skin. Tell that to your body. Have a discussion with your body. Ask it what it wants and needs. Even if you do not “hear” anything in response, know that you are creating bridges of understanding between your consciousness and your body and its particular consciousness. Be willing to listen and this will create huge openings inside of you. You will start to feel better, slowly, but surely.
This is what I know: all of us can change our minds and learn to love our bodies. We have ultimate power and control over what we think, feel, and how we react to life’s circumstances. All of us can decide to change our thinking and thus, our beliefs about our bodies (or any topic). We do not have to hate or be critical of our bodies. We can choose love and appreciation. If we choose to facilitate a deeper love and respect for our bodies, lots of positive things will result. The most important of them: you feel better and you have more happiness. Consider falling madly in love with your body just as it is and see how your life unfolds. Just watch the universe mirror that love and appreciation back to you.