It’s all too easy to see the body as a vessel to be commodified, criticised and punished – what can we do to make peace, and celebrate its extraordinary nature?
By: Lia Burge Rogers
Intellectually, I think most of us can objectively recognise that the body is an incredible machine that keeps us alive and kicking. But how can we really start to integrate this ‘idea’ into our everyday lives, and once and for all stop punishing ourselves? The body – especially the female body – has been commodified and sexualised to such an extent that the idea of it as a thing to judge from the outside, lives with us constantly. I’m sure we are all at different stages of acceptance and self-love, but I hope these practices can bring you a little bit closer, wherever you are on that journey. I declare this month a corporal celebration! Join the party. Let’s share the self-love.
BEACH BODY READY
Would you like to go to the beach? Yes? Good. You’re ready.
It’s the middle of summer. Many of us will be crippled with anxiety about summer clothes and ‘beach bodies’ as the advertising industry force perceived perfection down our throats. These feelings are real and ingrained, but how can we conquer the endless cycle of seasonal self-loathing. I know it’s not easy but let’s start somewhere: Consider it an act of defiance to put yourself in a swimsuit you like. Consider it an act of defiance against those parts of you that hate your belly and thighs to go out anyway. Consider every trip an act of defiance against those adverts.
So, you defiantly get to the beach and you feel… self conscious, or worse. Sit with it. Notice where those feelings manifest in the body. Breathe. Notice the world around you as it is. Look at the sea, the stones, the sand – that’s why you’re there. Chances are not a soul will have a thought about the way your body looks. This doesn’t just count for the beach. It counts for anywhere you feel held back by your body shape. Maybe nothing will change the first time. Keep going – keep sitting with it – keep breathing.
Next time you are alone and have a few minutes to spare, try this simple practice. It might feel very strange, but bear with it. Start at the top of your head and start to stroke down every part of your body, slowly and mindfully. Think about the muscle beneath your skin; the cells; the nervous system; the veins and pathways; the organs and their complex function. Take your time to absorb this vast universe within yourself. Perhaps you will begin to see your body in a different way. Somehow, self touch has become a shameful act – but it’s a wonderful way to ground, come back to your body, and change your perspective. For more ideas, check out this Qigong based self massage.
Related course : Qigong for Beginners
Show your body some love by giving it what it needs. Food is nourishment – your relationship to eating may be complicated, but that remains the simple truth. Self care is a gift you give yourself. Try to treat your body as you would treat someone you love. If there’s a sore muscle bothering you, take 5 minutes to breathe and stretch it out.
Think about the fuel you are feeding it with. Our diets shouldn’t be about deprival – think of eating as adding; enriching; fuelling. Instead of saying ‘No this, no that’, let’s focus on adding good-tasting, nutrient-rich foods. Repeated actions become habit, and habits change your mindset. Add foods to your diet that will make your body happy; nurture it through movement; give back to yourself.
Related Post : HABITS: Why They Matter and How to Create the Good Ones
Exercise can be a chore, but sometimes a little trick of the mind can make a gruelling workout more bearable. Sometimes when I’m running – and I’ll reiterate that this can be a 5 minute shuffle round the block – I feel heavy, tired, despondent, and busy in the mind. So, I shift my focus and think about my body. Not about the bits that are wobbling about on the outside, but the bits that are buzzing around on the inside. I visualise my lungs expanding, my muscles contracting, my blood pumping. Sometimes I get so lost in the extraordinary acts my body is carrying out, I forget that running is hard. You can do this with any form of exercise. In fact, I’ve always found ballet to be incredible for this, due to the extreme focus on the minutiae of each movement. You’ll find the practice of shifting focus from the mind into the body, will go a long way to shifting your mindset.
Related course : Ballet Basics
We would like to make this month a celebration. Get in touch below or on the socials to share your experience, and tell us how you celebrate your body.