How one woman found yoga, eased her inner hunger, and started loving herself. Follow Kimber as she shares her journey to loving her body, the joys and sorrows of yoga teaching, and venturing into the wilderness of writing and publishing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 23: How do you get the albatross off your neck? Ask it nicely.

What part of your body really drives you crazy? Sure, you can feel okay about your elbows and earlobes, the mole on your left shoulder, and even your belly button, but when it really comes down to it, you just don’t have enough time left to love your _______________________. Fill in the blank with whatever part of your body you’ve always prayed would disappear one morning, but never does.

“Dear God, please take back some of this abundant belly you’ve given me. There must be someone on the planet who needs it more than I do. I wouldn’t want to be greedy. Please distribute it as you see fit.”

The albatross around my neck, the annoying, humiliating part of my body that I felt I could never love, was my thighs. They expand where they should contract, dimple where they should be smooth, squish where they should be firm. Nothing about them was right. They certainly didn’t look anything like what I thought they should look like.

Standing in the mirror, I would mentally airbrush them away until I could stand to look at myself, and then despair that I couldn’t just slice them up and throw them away.

Not only was I afraid to look at my naked thighs, but I was grossed out to touch them even long enough to put on lotion. I fantasized about starvation cleanses, boot camps, and liposuction, all to tame my thighs into the perfect little twigs I imagined they should be. I would cut myself free from my albatross, and life could finally begin.

Does this ring any bells? Your albatross might be a different part of your body, your story about it might be different, but the overall approach might be the same… the only options are obliteration or hostile indifference. But why? Why should we hate this part of our body, or any part?

Why should a part of our body keep us from enjoying our lives fully?

Imagine for a moment, how your life might shift if you stopped worrying about this part of your body. Imagine that not only do you stop worrying about it, but you start to like it and appreciate it. Impossible? Nope. I did it.

You can change your relationship to your albatross, resuscitating it into a dear friend and companion who can lead you out of the stormy seas and back into the clear wind.

First, listen. Find a comfortable place to sit and contemplate. Talk to your albatross, that part of your body you can’t stand. Ask it questions.

1. Why are you like this? Let your albatross answer. My thighs respond, “We’re like this because of your genes, remember those? Both your grandmas and your great-grandmas had thighs like this. We’re proud to be part of a long line of big-thighed women.”

2. I’ve been mad at you for a long time, but I never though to ask you how you feel. Dare I ask? My thighs say, “We’re tired of you being mad at us all the time. We can’t help being what we are. We don’t want to embarrass you. We just want to enjoy life.”

3. I don’t want to fight anymore. How can I learn to be a better friend to you? My thighs answer, “Maybe you could try seeing what’s good about us.”

4. What’s good about you? Seriously? Okay, you have to help me out here. My thighs, happy to be finally asked, say, “Well, for one thing, we’re strong. We’re sturdy. We hardly ever hurt. We helped you carry a nine and a half pound baby in your belly… that was cool. We’re pretty flexible too. In fact, we’re kind of pretty, if you stop comparing us to all those airbrushed models in your head. Your head is too crowded for us to look good.”

Did you notice that my thighs listed five to six good things about them? Write down whatever your albatross suggests, even if you don’t believe them. Remind yourself of them whenever you catch yourself aiming at your albatross through the crosshairs. Aspire to see the good in them, however long it takes. Soften to this part of yourself, and invite in the possibility that you will someday see what’s right about that formerly troublesome part of your body. You’ve already made an auspicious start in learning to befriend your albatross.

Next post: Bird CPR? Breathe life back into your albatross.