Did you think this post would be about diet and exercise? Well, think again J… First of all, let’s establish a definition of what exactly a Perfect Body is. Is it a thin, (young?!) athletic one- something that our mass culture rigorously pushes on the public making most of us feeling to various degrees inadequate? The best definition of a perfect body I’ve heard was from my Body Dynamics teacher- “the perfect body is the body that feels perfectly.”
Now think about that… We come into this life to interact with the environment through our senses, to acquire experiences that are our own, and our body is an invaluable tool for our perceptions and reaching self-awareness. But as we grow up, most of us are taught that in some shape or form our body is not good enough… Well that “not good enough” theme runs rampant through every area of our lives but that is a topic for another discussion.
The arrogance of our mass culture and constant pressure form advertising companies had many of us convinced that a fashion magazine editor knows better what is beautiful than the creative force that has conceived this world. If that is what you want to believe that is your choice, but I personally don’t like the idea one little bit. I am an artist and whenever the person is centered and self-accepting, very “comfortable in their skin” I (always!) perceive them as beautiful.
(People also call it “self-confidence” but for those who have none, self-confidence is a very abstract term, so I’ll break it down.)
By the way, you can also see a young model who is very insecure about her appearance and all you’ll see is her “flaws” not because they are real, but because that is what she is focused on.
Our bodies are not this chunk of meat that needs to be beaten into obedience through rigorous exercises or brutal diets. They are very sensitive and very complex tools of perception and awareness that we, through our ignorance and often abuse endured in childhood and teenage years severely damage throughout our lives. And yet, this amazing mechanism is so perfect that even having endured a lot of abuse, it has a great capacity for regeneration…
Now to the practical steps of how to treat our body properly, so it would once again become our friend rather than our source of frustration and disappointment.
First, we must acknowledge having treated our bodies poorly and apologize, and don’t worry- it will forgive you as soon as you apologize- your body ALWAYS wants to be on your side. It will be your best friend in the whole world if you only make an effort to reach out to it.
Second, you need to listen… Make it a habit to listen to the needs of your body and treat them as the needs of your favorite child. And don’t be surprised if your body will start “chatting” all the time. It is like a neglected child that sits in the back of a classroom quietly when nobody pays attention to him or her, but as soon as a teacher takes a notice of that child and shows sincere interest in him/her, the child opens up and starts showing ALL of his/her talents: “Look, I can also do this, and this and this!!!”
Third- acceptance. Make it your daily practice, each time you look in the mirror, notice what you are telling yourself- how you are observing your body. Are you critical of it? Are you finding parts or all of it unacceptable? There is an excellent exercise offered originally by Nathaniel Brandon (I think)- the mirror exercise. Set aside a few minutes of every day, stand in front of a mirror, look at your self and breathe. No need to think thoughts of how to improve yourself, to criticize, to avoid looking at certain areas- just look and breathe (for 10 min). Do this every day and notice the difference in how you feel, how this exercise affects the rest of your day, etc. Accept everything that comes up for you without judgment, without thought- cry if you want to cry, get angry if you feel like it, even wanting to stop or something so drastic as to commit suicide. Notice and accept it all and just breathe through all of it.
Next point for people who believe they have “weight issues…” And it’s not to negate the need for proper dies and physical activity, but first get to the core of the “issue.” Often times the reason we gain weight has to do with feeling very sensitive and unsafe in the world, and the worst thing you can do to your relationship with your body is to blame and punish it with diets and exercises for simply trying to protect your nervous system from over-exertion.
(It is a very large issue and I am not trying to make light of it.)
If you feel that you gain weight much too easily even without overeating and with exercising, look at your emotional state first. Do you feel too vulnerable in the world? Are you a very sensitive person, whose “weight issues” make you even more so? If the answer is yes, congratulate yourself- sensitivity is a great gift- it is your guidance system, and you must acknowledge it as one.
Take it in, feel the immense pleasure of knowing that about yourself.
Having done so, think of the ways you can consciously take care of your vulnerabilities-
- avoid abuse whenever possible,
- make your feelings a priority (you don’t have to make scenes and demand from others to be gentle with you- just be gentle with yourself; even a simple act of setting an intention of caring for your own feelings will go a long way).
- Make your communication with your body a daily practice and notice the incremental differences.
(All of these steps have to be very small, very incremental; they require a lot of patience and a lot of attention. If you find it difficult in the beginning to listen to your body or to accept something- notice your resistance and accept that as a first step…)
The most significant shifts (in my experience) happen through taking small steps consistently.
The early phases of creating a rapport with your body start with appreciation- acknowledge the great work this amazing mechanism is doing for you and you will be on your way to KNOWING that you already have a Perfect Body- it is your perception that need to be adjusted… Keep a journal if you can and takes notes of your progress- you might find them inspiring, and enjoy the journey!