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.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Love Your Body Blog Part 25: Nice Albatross, Pretty Albatross

How do you make nice with your albatross, the part of your body that drives you crazy? If you’ve followed the blog so far you intuit where this is headed--- How would you treat a friend who’s driving you nuts? Perhaps a friend you broke up with after a long ago fight… how do you heal those old wounds?

First, you clear the air. You talk. Sit down with your albatross and tell it how you feel. Share your anger, your frustration. Then imagine its response. Listen, and let it tell you how it feels. Touch that part of your body with your hands and gently ask your albatross what it needs from you to heal your relationship with it. Listen for the answer, and then give your albatross the comfort, the soothing words, even the apology it needs.

Years ago, a friend offered me a massage in her lovely backyard garden studio in Berkeley. She described her style of massage as “energy work”, which sounded like something my inner Midwesterner would chortle at, but I was willing to go along anyway.

A pool of afternoon light through the open door warmed the massage table and I settled like a kitten in the sun to enjoy the kneading of my tight neck and shoulders.

As usual, when she started to massage my thighs and hips (my albatross), even with a sheet draped over them, they tensed from my usual discomfort and self-consciousness. She encouraged me to relax as her soothing hands loosened my inner knots. As I felt my hips and thighs relaxing, I sent a half-hearted apology to them.

Me: I’m sorry I’m so hard on you. I’ve always wished you were smaller, and I just can’t seem to let it go.

To my surprise, my hips answered back…. We know.

My mind turned over this response, and tentatively reached out again: I don’t want to fight with you, but I don’t know what else to do.

My hips responded: We don’t want to war with you either. We want to help you. We’re here for you. We want you to step into life fully. We want to work with you and have fun with you. We love you.

A giant tear trailed down the bridge of my nose and dropped onto the sheet below my face. I had never cried during a massage before, and part of me couldn’t believe I was doing it now. My heart cracked. I’m so sorry. I want to work with you, too. I love you. Let’s work together from now on. We’re in this together.

Offer blessings to your albatross. Tell it you want to be friends. Perhaps even give it a different name, an affectionate moniker that reflects the relationship you want to have with it. Look for what’s beautiful about that part of your body, without comparing it to what you think it should look like. Look for the good in what it is.

Every part of your body deserves your love. Every part of your body loves you.

Give that part of your body some extra love and attention. Get out the body crayons, sparkly eyeliner pencils, or non-toxic markers, and draw a smiley face on it, or a beautiful flower, or a spiral, or some loving words. Wear something that makes that part of your body a little extra visible or playful. For me, wearing short skirts, even over pants, helps give my thighs and hips a sense of flirty fun. Write down five good things about that part of your body and repeat them to yourself whenever you catch yourself treating them like an albatross.

Here’s the cool part: if you can heal your relationship with your albatross, you can heal your relationship with any part of your body, anytime.

No only are you learning to be a better friend to yourself, but the practice of listening and forgiving helps you be a better friend to everyone in your life. Your albatross, instead of driving you and everyone else crazy and over the side of the boat, becomes the means to create connection and beauty in your life, inwardly and outwardly.

Next post: The TO DO list your body’s been waiting for all its life.