August 2010

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Feeling a body… such a sacred task.  To live here in this flesh and feel all of it’s beauty, it’s flaws, the presence of age unfolding.  To cast eyes on those parts that don’t measure up, and yet to wear it fully with every step.  To wear it naked, clothed, in a bridesmaid dress or a swimsuit.  A task, and one that sometimes feels more like pain than pleasure.  But why?

The truth is we are beautiful.  Fat, wrinkles, moles, hairs, skin weathering time…. we are so beautiful.  Why are we taught otherwise?

As a girl I was so ashamed of my body.  I tortured it as a teenager.  Ugly stuff… and all out of anger and frustration about a sense of not being enough.  But yet… I was.  Enough.  We all are.  More than enough.

More than beautiful, really.  We are amazing…. like the way love wraps you up and melts your knees, or the way sadness melts every organ in your torso.  We have this humanity that hurts because it loves… we get angry because we love, we get in pain because we love, and we get into such crazy joy because we love.  Sometimes we get into wide peace because we love.

It’s true, losing 20 pounds in the last couple of years has made me love my body more.  I didn’t try to lose it – I have all these theories, but they are just that.  Somehow it happened after I fell in love.  My favorite theory is that it’s the feeling of safety that let me drop it away.

But as a teenager I was this size too, and that was not enough.  We have all these images that we overlay, all these expectations.  Why are we so hard on ourselves?  Why, when we have this one chance to explore this beautiful body that breathes us and beats our hearts and feels emotions so expansively?  Why can’t we just love this gift and revel in it?

Obviously we are trained to care – by pictures and standards.  And it’s reinforced constantly, almost everywhere we look.  And yes, I do support healthy living.  But that is not the picture you’ll see on most magazines – most models are not healthy.  They are not living healthy lifestyles.  So it’s one thing to get out and move and try to eat more healthy.  It’s another to starve yourself to a standard.

So what can we do, to love this beautiful body like it is?  Once a lover told me that the sexiest thing in a woman is when she loves her body.  Whether this is true for all men or not, I will certainly say that it feels good just to sit or walk with someone who loves being in her skin.  It’s a good practice.  So how to be more confident in your skin?

Moving my body always makes me feel really good in my skin afterward.  Whether it’s a long walk, dancing, Yoga, a leisurely bike ride, sex, or whatever you choose…  There are so many ways to move and feel great in your body.  And afterward there is that grace that radiates from your center, and it just feels so good to be alive.

I don’t know the answers to this one, I only know what I have tried over the years.  I have overcome the most impossible things through practices like Yoga, meditation, Nature time, and breathing mostly.  I overcame tremendous depression and fear.  Many years ago I arrived at this place of such deep gratitude and love for life that almost nothing could improve it.  That has stayed mostly steady for the last 8 or 10 years.  But this one thing was still a challenge…. even in years of contentment and a glow living through me, I could still find myself shy and uncertain in my skin.

But one day at a time, for 15 years or so now, I have been on a journey to love my body.  To overcome all the damage I did and carefully repair the tissue and the emotions of a teenage girl not being enough.  As an adult I see too many women living in a similar sense of feeling unhappy in their skin.  I’m sure men go through this too… I can only speak for my own experience, really.

For me it has been one day at a time, one decision to take care of my body at a time, and momentary choices to notice how good it feels to FEEL in this body.  Yoga has helped tremendously.  Yoga helps me become more aware of my body, and as I feel it more clearly I just love being in it more by the day.  Flesh is a gift to move in, and breathe in, to heal in.  We are so fortunate.  So so fortunate, in countless ways.

I’ve watched over the years, and even before this recent weight loss I really was getting close.  I was loving it almost completely.  I was enjoying being in my skin in whole new ways.  I was still shy at the beach, but I was generally enjoying and loving the experience of my body.  Now it’s even easier.  And I do love it.  I just feel like I finally have a great relationship with my skin, my food, movement, and my heart in the middle of it all.

And I’m aging.  And that’s amazing to watch!  Ask anyone over 30, if you haven’t gotten there yet.  And Loving my body as my skin changes and I heal more slowly, that’s a beautiful process.  It’s going to be a task, this growing older thing.  I get that.  I couldn’t be more grateful that I’ve stumbled across Love in so many forms right now.  And as I love my body more than ever, I am so enjoying tending to my aging body and doing more to feel even better by the day.  It will not get easier – this I see.  But quality of life is worth it.  And everything that feels like work initially (Yoga, flossing, cooking food from scratch) becomes a sweet practice with time, patience, and grace.

I’m going to continue to make decisions that feel really good in my body, and I’m going to strive to enjoy feeling every stretch, every walk, every breath, as if it’s a whole new high.  Aging in a body that I have slowly learned to love is really a gift, and one I would wish for everyone.  It just feels good to love your own own flesh.  And it’s all one step at a time, one bit of forgiveness and release of expectation at a time.  Maybe one Yoga posture, extending into goodness, at a time.  What will you do to love your body a little bit more today?