Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Body, My Temple

I'm not promoting body worship but I am in awe of the body and it's capabilities. All too often we are consumed with fitting a societal standard of what our bodies should be able to do, what they should look like and how they should be clothed. The advertising, beauty, fitness and health industries all play into body standards to greater or lesser extents.

Countless times I have judged what's "wrong" with my body. It's easier than focusing on what's right with it. It takes effort to do this, as it means combatting the images seen on tv, on billboards, and in ads that promote the constant and endless pursuit of the "perfect body." It also means escaping the mindset that bodies can in fact be perfect if we pay enough, work out enough, restrict and constrict enough...

This reduces the body to an object and fails to recognize it for what it really is - an incredible instrument.

When I worked in a Women's Center, the campus partook in the National Organization for Women's annual Love Your Body Day. It's held every October and centers on redefining standards of beauty and body sizes/shapes and accentuating positive attributes and the body's wondrous capabilities.

We distributed a list of ways to honor and love the body:

* Be mindful of daily thoughts on the body. If there are negative thoughts, counteract them!
* Pamper yourself - whether that means getting a 50 minute or 15 minute massage, painting your toes, or taking a bubble bath!
* Dance for no reason! Just be. My sister and I are notorious for this ritual.
* Tune into the body - Close your eyes, relax, and notice areas of ease and tension. What needs attention?
* Take a minute and thank your body for all it does each day - (my Yogini reminds us of this at the end of each practice - can I get an OM?!).
* Eat foods that nourish the body. Notice how you feel after a nutritious meal!
* Find clothes that flatter the figure you have today
* Write a list of all the things your body can do for you - I bet you'll run out of paper! Mehmet Oz wrote another book - You: Staying Young. He refers to the body as a city!! When you think of all the actions and interactions it conducts daily, it makes for a perfect analogy!

Finally, one of the most important things you can do to love your body is this:

* Trust your gut and other messages your body gives you.

"At the center of your being you have the answer.

You know who you are and you know what you want."