Making Friends with your Form: Mindful Body Positivity
My life has been bodywork. Starting at age 4 as I was figuring out how exactly to best launch myself into a backwards roll on a 4 inch beam, I’ve been working with my own body and the bodies of others to support/nurture/challenge/maximize/heal physical forms for a loooonnnng time. And I must say, I’m pretty good at it.
When I'm in alignment (all the good foods in the right amounts, enough meditation, sunlight, movement, etc) I feel like a magical babbling brook: flowing free and peaceful, sparkling and fun, moving along effortlessly as bumps and ripples get swept up with ease as part of the nature of things.
It would be so very cool if I could somehow stay in that state of being forever- resting easy, comfortably fed, at peace, no partly dislocated joints yelling at me, maybe a perpetually warm self-refilling cup of tea beside me. But that’s not the universe we live in.
Anything we try to keep just as it is will trap us in misery/grumpitude--be it a label, a judgement, an emotion, a relationship, a place, a person, or a physical form.
When listening to people talk about their bodies, the most common thread is judgement.
We get very angry at our bodies for causing us pain.
We get frustrated our posture isn't perfect, or that things take a long time to heal.
We feel sad our bodies don't look the way society has idealized forms in media, or that we ache sometimes in ways that don't make sense, or that we just don't feel as young as we used to.
But here's the truth of it: our bodies are fluid. They are constantly changing.
Your physical self isn't one thing, it's a compilation of trillions of tiny things all moving, conversing, shifting, birthing and dying, and moving again.
Bone cells right now are laying down new osteon building blocks and devouring old ones to shape your skeletal structure based on your movements each day.
Your brand new skin cells make it all the way up to the surface every 10 days and more are growing underneath.
Your nervous system is changing how it keeps track of where your body is in space based on feedback from receptors in muscles and ligaments- as often as you move any part of you, your brain is editing the map of what and where you are.
Of course your walk pattern is different than it was 10 years ago. You have different legs, a different brain map, a different diet, different energy, different terrain to traverse, and different fascial memory.
It will be different again tomorrow.
Overarching patterns can be noticed and worked on to create healthier patterns which don't cause pain. That's my work. But there need not be an indictment of bodies.
Change is not a failure. Change is life.
It's okay that your neck gets better and then goes back to hurting again- you didn't lose the game. Let's just do what we can to help it today.
It's okay if you have extra weight the doctors say you don't need. Your body is doing a lot of good work for you, and your weight is never the most interesting or important thing about your life. You haven't failed, that's just one thing among other things to notice and ask your tissues how you can best take care of them. With love.
It's okay if things hurt and you don't know why.
It's okay if you had to have surgery because the holistic stuff wasn't helping enough.
It's okay if you have scars and moles and a toe that doesn't look like everyone else's toes.
I am not here to hold you to any kind of imaginary standard.
(And all standards are imaginary, FYI)
I'm here to help you as you are, making space for healing what needs healed, and to help you enjoy simply being.
Here's what you can take with you
to practice erasing those imaginary standards and get a little compassion back for your tissues...
(And remember, it's a process. The practice of learning to love our bodies is ongoing forever and ever, there's no trophy or punishment at the end. We just work, gently and slowly.)
Questions to ask the next time you notice any negative thoughts/feelings towards your body:
Who said something should be different? No really, think back. What voice, image, or memory is telling you your body is somehow incorrect? Were they right?
(Hint: NO. They were not right. Different, yes. Needing help, maybe. But never wrong or bad.)
What message is my body trying to give me?
(ex: is your back "killing you", or is it possible that you are killing your back?)
What are three things my body has done for me today?
(ex: your eyes are helping you read this right now)
What can I do for my body today?
You're beautiful and perfect.
All the love and hugs