Your body is the most amazing thing you will ever own. Here is evidence for this fact:
- Your heart beats 100,000 times per day.
- Your body is made of 37 trillion cells.
- Nerve impulses travel to and from your brain as fast as 170 miles per hour.
- The miles of blood vessels in your body could circle the earth 4 times.
Then why do many of us get caught in wishing for a thinner, taller, firmer, younger body? A recent survey of 2000 people between the ages of 13 and 64, asked whether people were body positive, body negative, body neutral (they accept their bodies and their imperfections), or body ambivalent (they have a love/hate relationship with their bodies). Only 11 percent of women reported being body positive as compared to 20 percent of men. Not surprisingly, those at highest risk of body hatred were teenage girls, 94 percent of them reporting body shame.
According to Brene Brown’s research, the body is the number one cause of shame for women. This shame automatically makes it harder to listen, trust, and honor the wise messages of the body. It took me a long time to befriend my body and hence benefit from all the wisdom and guidance it was trying to communicate to me. I credit yoga with teaching me how to become more embodied, or present in my body.
It seems like presence is the key to greater body love. I have spent lots of time at yoga and meditation retreats and by the end of the retreat I typically always feel really secure and loving toward my body. Early on I attributed the feeling to all the yoga I was doing, or the great vegetarian meals we ate all week. But for all intents and purposes, my body didn’t change that much in a week. I hadn’t lost any weight or significantly changed by body make-up. Rather, I had just spent time with my body. I listened to it. I stretched it. I meditated with awareness in the body. I spent hours becoming more embodied, which naturally led to more love and trust and respect for the body.
GOOD NEWS: Beginning to love the body does not require you to lose weight, change your shape, be fully OK with your pain or illness or the ways your body isn’t working as effectively as it once did. It also does not require an intense exercise regime, a reduction of calories, or the repetition of mantra every morning and evening. All that is required is that you spend time with the body. Just like you might carve out “date night” to nourish your relationship with your partner, you carve out periods of time to be in relationship with your body.
Embodiment is a solo endeavor where you choose to bring your mind back into the body over and over so as to create a relationship to the body. To foster kindness. To create intimacy. To really know and savor your life. To feel more alive. And perhaps most importantly, to be connected to the intelligence of the body, which as Steve Pains, a researcher and professor who studies embodiment, says, is “the smartest thing in the room.”