Back to basics, a meditation on the body

womantreebranchesTo lose our connection with the body is to become spiritually homeless. Without an anchor we float aimlessly, battered by the winds and waves of life. Anodea Judith

Have you ever seen Adam Sandler in Happy Gilmore? As an ex ice hockey player attempting to putt a golf ball, he is told to visualise the ball going into the hole, as the ball ‘going home’. Becoming more and more frustrated, as the ball continuously misses its mark, he yells “What, are you too good for your home?”

For some reason that came to my mind as I read Anodea Judith’s quote. Random, yes. I know. But many of my thoughts contain pop culture references, often from Waynes World. Mike Myers is The Guru, after all. Hey! Don’t judge, there’s wisdom in pop culture too – Socrates was hugely popular in his time.

And yes, like Happy’s golf ball, I think my ego-mind does think it’s too good for its home. Or more to the point, it doesn’t think its home is good enough for it. I’ve certainly spent an awful lot of my life avoiding my own body, choosing to live in my mind, or sometimes just out of my mind in escape and fantasy, and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Take the Willow Smith photo in the media this week. I tend to stay away from mainstream media, but I did read Belle Jar’s amazing post about this. For those of you like me who live under a rock, Willow Smith is the 13 year old daughter of Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith – famous actor type people  – who was posted in a photo with a 20 year old family friend. The media sexualised the photo and all kind of mudslinging ensued.

What occurs to me is how very frightened our mass media – which is in some way a reflection of the zeitgeist of the time –  is of our bodies, and how so many people reacted in fear to what is obviously a photo of two young people who are very relaxed and comfortable around each other. Of all the hideous things people do to their bodies, why is a boy and a girl hanging out together so shocking? Yet it is generally accepted in this same culture that bodies are cut, injected with botox, waxed, lasered, radiated with artificial UV, photoshopped into some bizarre ideal, which seems to get younger, increasingly hairless, spotless, thinner, and less human every day. Geez, no wonder so many of us have a dysfunctional relationship with our bodies.

A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female beauty but an obsession about female obedience. Naomi Wolf

I have been guilty of great abuse to my body. Overeating in puberty as a way to shield and nurture myself. Starvation, bulimia, obsessive exercising. I put on weight during puberty, as a protective layer between me and the world, then lost weight because I was told the world didn’t love me that way. Constant swinging between the desire for nurture and protection, to denial and approval seeking. Followed by a lifelong see-sawing between two extremes of thinness and excess weight. My relationship with food, which ideally is to provide nutrition and nurture our body functions, became very distorted at times.

It’s not all bad. Heightened self-consciousness, apartness, an inability to join in, physical shame and self-loathing—they are not all bad. Those devils have been my angels. Without them I would never have disappeared into language, literature, the mind, laughter and all the mad intensities that made and unmade me. Stephen Fry

Control has been a major issue, along with denial. I read recently that the raw food trend is a guise for eating disorders in many people. During my time eating 100% raw – although its health benefits were many and it transformed my eating in a positive way – I also became more and more limited and controlling in what I would eat. Today I eat raw food, but the excessive desire to be 100% raw is tempered with listening to what my body wants, and the compromise of living with other people who don’t share my raw, vegan vision.

You are not a mistake. You are not a problem to be solved. But you won’t discover this until you are willing to stop banging your head against the wall of shaming and caging and fearing yourself. Geneen Roth

Somewhere along the way I learned to loathe my body and the ‘curse’ that came with it. As a side note, please people can we teach girls to see the amazing miracle of their bodies, as well as boys of course? And NOT tell them – as I was by women who were told the same thing – that the process that it the pinnacle of all creation, whether of actual life or creativity itself, is a curse. It’s a travesty. It has to stop. It’s time to honour our bodies in all aspects. Not as the glossy, photoshopped cover of a magazine, but as real bodies, that have hair and blemishes and scars, and emit all kinds of fluids for various functions. It’s miraculous, let’s bless this gift!

To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself. Simone de Beauvoir

Body love is the essence of my base chakra practice. My body is my physical home, as much as the earth and the universe. Your journey into your body is one in a lifetime, in the sense it is unique, and it takes your entire lifetime. To the Western mind the body is a finite thing, but to the Eastern mind, with its understanding of chakras and meridians, and the vortices of energy they represent, the body is vast, infinite, ever expanding, according to your intention to make the journey within. It is only through making this commitment to body-understanding and love, that you can access the full gifts of your being, and your healing capabilities.

Dance in the shadows of your fears and they will turn to light. Aine Belton

So what do I mean by back to basics?

My son who I love with all my heart, has gone to spend the night with his dad for the first time in three weeks and I am so grateful for the me time.

My health crash last year taught me a valuable lesson in filling up and protecting my energy reserves, by not allowing myself to get depleted. I observe that as soon as I have energy, I want to share it. Naturally empathetic and giving of my energy, my shaman told me to practice keeping my energy stores and instead asking the infinite, divine source to send energy to others, so I am not drained all the time. Caroline Myss believes these kinds of energy-draining dynamics – people-pleasing, co-dependency, control, and resentment – cause disease as body tissue start to bank the energy debt.

On the rare days I have to myself, I treat myself to a home retreat. Meditation, chakra healing, healthy foods and herbal beverages. Rest. Reading inspiring things. Writing. By allowing my body rest, rejuvenation, and activities that I love, I heal and recuperate. Your body has powerful self-healing energy if you allow it to calm down to a state where it can shift from the sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest) tone in the nervous system.

Your body is precious. It is our vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care. Buddha

This morning, I was having some old, familiar thought patterns – not so nice – about my body so I decided to go all out Louise Hay. As I  massaged coconut oil into my body after my shower, I said “I love you, I really love you” repeatedly. My intention is to love my body unconditionally. I’m not there yet, but I have come a long way.

I am so beautiful, sometimes people weep when they see me. And it has nothing to do with what I look like really, it is just that I gave myself the power to say that I am beautiful, and if I could do that, maybe there is hope for them too. And the great divide between the beautiful and the ugly will cease to be. Because we are all what we choose. Margaret Cho

For me it is helpful to focus on the great things my body does, for a start I grew a human being in there! As I watch my dad lose his mobility, I am reminded what a precious gift I have, I may not love how my body looks, but I love what it allows me to do, run, walk, dance, yoga, make love, sing, laugh, hug.

Just as our houses our homes for our body, our body is home for our spirit. Anodea Judith

Even if your body is not in the pristine condition you would like it to be, think of those ancient monuments, like the pyramids or the sphinx, that have stood so regally for centuries. Your body has a history, a story inscribed into it, love your story. And unlike the pyramids you are not made of stone, you are ever changing flesh and blood. Your cells are being recreated every seven minutes. Your thoughts and emotions about your body influence this creation. Quite literally self-love and self-care is the key to the body you want. The trick is not to say ‘I will love my body when it is this..’ but to love it now, and that love will transform your body and spirit.

If your body feels unhappy in any way, Anodea Judith suggests using “I feel” or “I am” statements, with you speaking as that part of your body. If your back is sore, tune into that part of your body and speak its truth “I am burdened. I feel overwhelmed.” Your body reflects your life and has powerful messages for you, if your knees hurt, you feel unsupported, if your neck is stiff, you feel inflexibility. If you can learn to listen to your body wisdom, it provides wonderful healing opportunities, when you don’t listen, the messages will get stronger, as illness or disease.

This morning in meditation and chakra healing, it occurred to me that what I have called energy blocks or chakra imbalances, are actually messages from my body and energetic system. When I feel a ‘block’ it is a sign to begin a dialogue with that part of my body and being, once the message is received, the disturbance shifts.

Practising yoga is a time I feel deeply connected to my body and a profound sense of what my body can do, its innate wisdom, the way when I truly let go, my body adjusts itself organically with each breath into the pose. In this state I can easily feel where the tension and discomfort in my body is.

Louise hay’s book, You Can Heal Your Body, is amazing to start to get a sense of the kinds of messages your body is sending. Last year when I had my health crash, I began to use her book and I was consistently amazed at how my body was reflecting the issues that were arising in my life.

My body is a beautiful partner lovingly resonating my life’s path in light, life, and love. Mary A Hall

Sound self-indulgent? Well, yes. That’s the point. This is where I fill my cup to overflow. For many years I had three boys to raise, I was working, studying my masters degree and giving of myself to people in manifold ways. The focus was always on what other people needed, on wanting to please and get approval.

I think the reward for conformity is that everyone likes you except yourself. Rita Mae Brown

It’s not that I have ceased to give, I just have become more discerning and aware of my own needs.

That’s not to say this is easy for me. With a whole 24 hours to myself, my mind went straight to to-do list mode. There are so many things to be done: housework, paperwork, shopping. My mind makes these things seem urgent, like emergencies, they are not. If I was attached to one of those heart monitor things, it would have gone throughout the roof. I felt stressed by my thinking about all I had to do! Yet, I know when I centre myself they will get done easily and effortlessly.

The base chakra is very much about grounding, stability, and security, and I have learned the only lasting stability and security available is that which I provide to myself, through being present in the body, in the now. My intention now is for balance and health. I no longer want to shield myself in weight, nor do I want to starve, or define myself by some ideal so manipulated that not even today’s models actually achieve it. My intention is to love myself, to protect myself without needing layers of flesh to do so. To be whatever size and shape my true being is, healthy, comfortable, happy. My intention is to rediscover joy in my body, my life.

Looking back you realize that a very special person passed briefly through your life and that person was you. It is not too late to become that person again. Robert Brault

Natalie Southgate writes that when your base chakra is balanced, you feel connectedness with the world and those around you, in a state of safety and stability. The balanced base chakra gives you a focused sense of your place in the world. As it is your root chakra, it is vital to allow your other chakras to be in balance. Like the foundations of a house, or the roots of the tree, the base is essential to the stability of the whole structure.

My body is a living temple of healing, rejuvenation, and joy – a living temple of spirit and the full expression of my juicy life. Mary A Hall

I wrote about the base chakra in a previous post, Reconnect with your roots. Now I find myself looking at my seventh chakra and my seventh intention love, and finding myself going back to basics, back to my body and its wisdom of self-love.

Here in the body are the sacred rivers, here are the sun and moon, as well as all the pilgrimage places. I have not encountered another temple as blissful as my own body. Saraha Doha

So it came as rather perfect timing to be doing the introductory course to Chakradance this week, which is all about the base chakra. As part of my retreat at home, I practiced some base chakra awakening techniques. This has included me crawling on all fours – which has the added bonus that it aligns brain hemispheres by the cross patterning movements, it’s very balancing.

Plenty of earthing, feet in the earth, sitting crouched on the earth, visualising mother earth’s energy cleansing, grounding, and balancing me. All very tribal, this earth-based, primal dance of the base chakra, and so liberating for a cerebral girl like me.

The land is my backbone. Galarrwuy Yunipingu

I am finally finding joy and ecstasy in my body. I am home. I can’t wait to share it with others. And now this is written, I’m having a nap. In the garden. That is my next intention.

 

Healing thoughts by Mary A Hall

I am a divine being of love and light.

I am here present and safe.

I can breathe knowing I am going to be okay.

I am beloved with a deep sense of knowing that I am loved.

I am free to love openly and fully.

I am connected with the divine and the flow of life, light, and love.

I am connected, free to live and love fully and completely.

Life is good. Good things are coming my way.

I am perfect whole and complete in who I am.

I can stand and shine my light freely, fully, and confidently, into the world.

I can stand up and be seen.

I can relax and flow with the infinite possibilities that are before me.

All good things are present now, in my awareness, and I embrace them.

I can stand and declare my truth in grace, love, and compassion.

I am connected with the divine oneness.

My body is a living temple of healing, rejuvenation, and joy – a living temple of spirit and the full expression of my juicy life.

My body is a beautiful partner lovingly resonating my life’s path in light, life, and love.

Bless!

 

Further reading:

The Body is not an apology thebodyisnotanapology.com

Learning to Love Your Body: 4 Steps to Self-Care tinybuddha.com/blog

Self Abyhanga theresekerr.com

The 50 Best Quotes on Self-Love psychologytoday.com/blog

53 Inspiring Self-Esteem and Self-Love Quotes positivityblog.com

Self Love Series: 101 Loving Yourself Quotes abundancetapestry.com

 

Title image: theresekerr.com

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