When you make a point of being curious, kind, and non-judgmental about all the shenanigans your body will get up to, you may find it much easier to manage it all, and love your body, just as it is.
Long, lean, smooth, and shapely, my ever-youthful Ken and Barbie dolls clearly had it made. Their perfect smiles beamed with joy no matter how many times I accidentally dropped them in the toilet or threw them down the stairwell. Shining and glorious, beyond sickness and death, their changeless bodies would remain as their maker intended, and patented them, to be.
The rest of us, on the other hand, find ourselves with bodies that just won’t stop changing. Sometimes we like those changes, sometimes we fear the changes our body goes through, and sometimes we feel so disconnected from our body that we simply can’t even tell, or don’t want to know, what the heck is going on in them there hills.
For many, childhood traumas or plain old negative comparisons can become the thought hooligans that make it hard for us to believe that we really might be OK with the body we have, just as it is.
For something a little different, what might happen if you tried on the idea of being the loving caretaker of the dynamic dynasty known as your body? Might you feel differently about yourself if you choose to love every lumpy, bumpy, numb, and tingly stage your body journeys through?
As our own caregivers, we can show our bodies love through eating nourishing food and shaking our booties. Exercising and eating wisely provide many positive outcomes for body and mood, so by all means let’s run, skip, and sprout ourselves silly. At the same time, it’s good to notice if fitness and diet goals become sneaky forms of self-aggression. Loving your body as it is right now is always the perfect starting line for a life of joy and connection.
Kindness, curiosity, and tenderness can be wise guides to help you navigate the relentless reality that your beautiful body will expand and contract, advance and retreat, and be continually transforming, with or without your approval. Your body will never be quite like this, ever again, whatever it is. Can you stand in wonder at the whole show your body is putting on? Can you love yourself just as you are, exactly as you are, right now?
Mindfulness Practice: Be a Mountain
When you’re feeling shaky and finding it hard to remember how gorgeous you are, take a few moments to settle into the mountain practice. Explore it as a way to find ease and comfort as you settle into the earthy grounding joy of being you, exactly as you are.
Your eyes can be open or closed. You can do the mountain practice sitting, standing, or lying down.
- Begin by breathing naturally, in and out through the nose. After several breaths, bring your attention to the body you’re in today.
- Notice your feet touching the ground, your thighs pressed into the chair, and your buttocks weighted by gravity. Bring your attention to your lower back, your middle back, your beautiful belly, and your chest and shoulders. Feel the slope of the neck and your head nobly perched atop it all. Acknowledge how your body feels—whether it’s softness, strength, stiffness, pain.
- Now imagine that you are looking at a majestic mountain. See its peaks reach- ing up to the clouds. Follow its snowy streams through lush forests down into flowered meadows.
- Allow yourself to imagine that you are this mountain. Your head becomes the sun-reaching peak, your shoulders and arms are the sides of the vibrant mountain. Your seat and legs are the stable foundation, your feet and toes like outstretching tree roots.
- With each breath, you become a breathing mountain. Feel its grandeur and presence deep within you. Enjoy being unconcerned about what the other mountains think of you, saying these words to yourself on the in-breath and out-breath: I see myself as a mountain. I feel calm and stable.
Michelle Maldonado offers a practice for tuning in to the wisdom of the body.
We often judge ourselves for “eating our feelings,” but we don’t have to. Allowing food to help soothe us in the moment can be an opportunity for kind self-awareness, as can exploring a variety of other ways to calm and work with difficult emotions.
Frank Ostaseski offers two short contemplations, calling on the power of love and compassion.