This post is one I have been very keen to do for a while, as clients have been bringing body image in to therapy more and more over the years. I think this is a subject that is very thorny for most of us and as such I myself have had to really consider what it means to me. I have had my own struggles with my body over the years; painful endometriosis and a big operation last year, have all played a big role in how I feel about my body.
Like many people I have felt a real dislocation and anger at my body for letting me down (as in having disease) and on top of that I am now having to deal with a body which has changed; scaring, ageing and getting less flexible.
At the same time, I am also aware how I love to walk in nature, do yoga, play football with my nephew, and laugh with my friends and my body allows me to do all of those things. When I was recovering from my operation even eating and shaking out my duvet in the morning hurt, I really started to appreciate what my body did for me!
Our relationship with our bodies as human beings is so complex, we all expect them to behave perfectly, never get ill or creak when we bend down and at the same time look amazing all the time. The constant comparison we set up with the bodies of other people, leads to so much self hatred, shame and negative body talk.
So that’s the situation but what is the way forward? I have come to realise that we are in therapy with our bodies every day, yep its that simple we are in a process of acceptance and compassion with ourselves constantly and its a huge challenge.
One thing I have done is start to appreciate what my body does for me with so much regularity and dependency; breathing anyone! My daily meditation has also helped me explore this as I carry out a body scan, letting go of tension as I go and noticing how my body feels and asking myself what is going on for me.
It has helped me see how much burden the body carries with no complaint, no wonder it fails occasionally! It also holds so much of our emotional pain, often storing it for many years.
I have developed a body positive meditation (available below) which encourages self compassion and body acceptance, its a daily practice that I am know is not a quick fix but it all helps.
So feed your body nourishing foods, give yourself plenty of rest and watch how you speak to yourself, use a new gaze in the mirror; less judgement more love. Over time I am coming to accept my body more, to thank it for it’s tireless work and uncomplaining regularity and I always finish my daily practice by saying; ‘thank you body and sorry for taking you for granted’.
I have designed this 10 minute meditation to help you connect with your body and foster acceptance.