Good Friday to you, my friends. And look at us, 7 weeks into self loving! Hopefully there are moments of reading which resonate with at least some internal corner of you. Something that sparks your curiosity or provokes you to pause for momentary reflection. Take these as signs, indications that are they are applicable to you.
Flowing smoothly-and not coincidentally:-) -on from Maria’s Tuesday’s post, ‘Letting the Body Be’ today we’re again looking at loving our bodies.
This can be a sensitive subject, the body, no? See, our spirits we can try and squish and ignore and the internal workings of our mind are privy to us alone but the body is the physical expression of us, seemingly available for all to see and judge. And if we’re not accepting of our physical representation well then, ouch, it’s hard to love that person blinking back at us in the mirror.
I’m going to slide my experience into this article because I feel it personifies the theories we’ll be chatting about, and it gives us a measurable stick of what bodily self love can do.
I also feel that many of you may be able to relate to patches of it.
I used to have many bodily complaints and was frequently ill because I fed my body cigarettes, drugs, lashings of alcohol and food that wasn’t really food, but was lining the center aisles of the supermarket anyhow. Because of this my teeth eroded to the point where I had to get crowns, I had lots of bladder infections, ulcers, sunken grey eyes, cloudy and spot-strewn complexion and every few months or so I would have some reason to visit the Doctors. I was a magnet for viruses and colds and- hand over heart- I feel I look much better now in my mid thirties than I ever did from my teen years to my twenties.
Like many women, pregnancy was the new bodily state that forced me into change. I had to quit smoking, and drinking. It was the first time I’d taken a mature breath and sat with my body, just as it was.
I think I did all the abusive things to it as a way to feel detached from it. But now I stared unequivocally at it. I realized there were some things I wanted to change. I spent months in the dentists chair getting my dreadful teeth addressed; I had painful gum surgery, multiple root canals, fillings, front crowns, back crowns. In taking care of my teeth, I realized how really in beauty its important to take care of the basics; loving on our skin, our teeth, rather than what I used to do, which was to spend hundreds of pounds a month on clothes and makeup (and getting in debt for it) to disguise what I had.
Do you similarly find that you spend money pasting over physical dissatisfactions rather than just addressing them head on?
When we take care of the basics; when we focus on achieving healthy skin, teeth, body and hair we tend to feel more confident to go bare-faced, or with natural non-painted nails, to wash and air-dry our hair or to wear what feels comfortable-not dictated by the weird and wild whims of fashion. We realize that beauty and health are inextricably connected.
Makeup and nice clothes are an important facet to feeling good for many-and that’s great- but when it’s coming from a place of trying to hide what we have, as suppose to highlight, underneath it might spill over into addictive spending and perpetual self dissatisfaction.
So, what else can we do to love our precious life vehicles?
1) Sleep My gosh the importance of sleep can never be overrated. And they don’t call it beauty sleep for nothing:-) Getting proper sleep, 7-9 hours a night, is the foundation for any healthy, beauteous body to flourish from. Not only does adequate sleep affect our facial appearance but also it plays a dramatic affect on our mood, overall health and energy levels.
“Your skin, and your whole body, goes into repair mode when you sleep,” says Day, who wrote the book Forget the Facelift. “It’s repairing and restoring and rebalancing,” (New York City dermatologist Doris Day, MD.) http://www.webmd.com/beauty/skin/truth-about-beauty-sleep
It’s a free and instant way to look and feel so much better about yourself.
2) Movement Every body is different. How does your body like to move? Like sleep, not only can daily exercise raise your happiness levels remarkably, but it can transform your body physically until you are nigh unrecognizable from how you looked when you started. Trick is to relish it, to look forward to workout time. It can take years to work through and find movement to suit your specific loves, whether that be dog walking, P90X, dance, gym membership, tennis, swimming or a hundred other options. (Check out Soul Souring Exercise for further inspiration http://brightsideoflife.org/?p=437
The important thing is, not to give up.
Unfortunately I have witnessed, through a close relative, that ‘if you don’t use it you lose it.’ And it’s not a pretty experience for you to have to go through.
3) Yoga (really, Yvette, again?) I do spout the benefits a lot, I know, but in my experience and countless other individuals it has proved to be one of the most loving gifts you can offer your body. Through this ancient 5000 year old practice, you get to intimately meet your body. You familiarize yourself its tight areas, its nuances. Yoga is such an illustrative experience of what you can achieve with patience, kindness and persistence. Your flexibility, strength and balance will take you in and out of poses that you previously thought belonged in a pipe dream. Yoga teaches us to accept our disabilities or present incapacities and instead of trying to jar past them to embrace them, just the way they are, to send love on the tide of your breath into those sensitive areas.
The way, then, that we treat ourselves on the mat spills over into how we do off the mat.
4) Fresh air. I remember reading in ‘Conversations with God’ book series (book 3, I believe) that some of the most evolved beings on our planet were/are the Native Americans and Aborigines. They didn’t lock themselves away in boxes for 80% of their lives. They lived in nature, with Nope, not suggesting you tent yourself up in the back garden but note how the fresh air changes the way you feel in and see your body. Living in cooler climates, I used to love returning from a bracing walk and admire my stiff, rosey cheeks.
Now, living in the sunny climes of Florida, I have noted how strong and healthy my nails are, how often I’m having to trim them. My children’s hair-and mine too- needs more frequent trips to the hairdresser because of its comparably rapid growth. I love, too, the sun-kissed tone to my skin and my brighter eyes and complexion. Good bit of vitamin D; there’s no healing power like it.
5) Nutrition: As with exercise, nutrition should be fun: Experimenting with new recipes, trying weird and wonderful looking fruits, browsing through the farmers market, letting your senses choose your meal in the produce section. Watching ‘Masterchef’ really inspires me, and I learnt to cook through an online school called Rouxbe, http://rouxbe.com/ I could not recommend a company more. It is an online cookery school, which turns learning about food into a fiesta. How can you get excited about healthy eating? This maybe joining a program, like weight watchers, or what about planning meals ahead of time, going on Pinterest or subscribing to a food magazine? How about watching cookery TV shows?
Nourish your body and you will shine from the inside out. But don’t deprive yourself. Life’s too short, and if you can’t have a slice of cheesecake or a coffee with a friend if/when you want it then, gosh, you’re perhaps negating the desires of your mind and spirit for that of the body. Its all about balance. Food should be celebrated, not wrestled with. How can you add a wee dash of spice into your diet? Pun-regrettably:-)- intended.
6) Don’t be limited by society’s warped perception of what beauty is. Celebrity magazines are prime culprits to cultivate feelings of body insecurity, among a myriad of other media influences. We’ve managed to pigeon-hole what ‘Beauty’ is but want to know the funny thing? What we consider beautiful today is transient. For example, being tanned used to be avoided at all costs, now it’s a desired look, at least in our western culture. And our concept of beauty is not just transient in time period but also in where you happen to be on the globe. In some countries-Fiji, Jamaica and South Africa, for example- larger women are celebrated and far more desired over their slimmer counterparts.
Beauty is not something to be contained and limited. It’s as expansive and all-inclusive as love is. There is beauty in every body: Every. Body. And there is nothing more beautiful-to my mind- then a wo/man who loves and cares for his/her body, no matter what others think of it. Genuine beauty starts from recognizing your loveliness and radiating it outwards.
My dear friend Lindsey Ramage, pictured above, is often complimenting those she randomly meets on their natural beauty. She sees physical beauty in people where others miss it, myself included. She told me that her sister once said, “Every day you should find one beautiful thing about a person (particularly a stranger) and compliment them on it, but only if you truly mean it.”
Ever since, Lindsey has done so, and worn this filter of love and appreciation for people’s natural beauty. I’ve witnessed her telling an unconventionally beautiful train station clerk what stunning hair she has, and an elderly lady what gorgeous skin. The way Lindsey’s eyes sparkle and dance in admiration as she’s delivering the compliment assures me of the sincerity of it.
Last night I was reading Hazel Gaynor’s ‘A Memory of Violets: A Novel of London’s Flower Sellers.’ The flowers sellers (100 years ago) were all afflicted with physical incapacities such as absent limbs from factory accidents, or blindness. This is how one of the characters, Mrs Shaw, spoke about them, and I thought it a perfect capsulation of what we’re discussing here:-
“…it is not up to society to provide us with a sense of belonging and acceptance but rather up to each of us to allow ourselves to belong, to allow ourselves to be accepted.” (page 93)
I’m sure you’ve hammered home what you don’t appreciate about your body, but what do you? We tend to have a negative filter which zones in on all our ‘faults’ and yet disregards all the thousands of things that our body does right. Even those of you who can’t seemingly bear the physical appearance of your bodies can appreciate what it does. It is an incredible instrument, just jaw-droppingly magnificent.
So what if I have a downy round face, jutting chin, stubby legs and so what if my cellulite reaches my knees-on both sides? These are the quirks that make me Me, and I get to decide if they’re loveable or not. Aren’t these little nuances the things we love the most in our closet ones? One Direction knows what we’re talking about in their beautiful song, ‘Little Things.’
Bear in mind, too, we usually only meet ourselves when we’re stony faced and stoic in the mirror. It’s everyone else who gets to see us animated and brought to life. You’re even more magnificent in glorious action.
Besides, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who likes every teeny bit of their body. Yes, even if, for us, they represent bodily perfection: It’s all relative. But I have met those who embrace every bit, Maria for one who wrote our Tuesday article.
We can’t escape the body that we’ve been gifted with, but we can shift our all-important perspective on it and use it to do quite marvelous things. It’s not called the body temple for nothing. It houses your inner treasures.
As with many things in life, if you love it, it’ll love you right back.
Louise L Hay ‘You Can Heal Your Body’ http://www.amazon.com/Heal-Your-Body-Louise-Hay/dp/0937611352