This week, my student and friend Laura shares her journey toward learning how to love her body. Laura is currently studying medicine and is excited to bring her insight into loving her body to how she treats her patients. Read on for further inspiration!
1) What brought you to the realization that you needed/wanted to change your relationship with your body?
I had three phases of realization.
One came when I joined the crew team in college. Though I worked just as hard as the rest of the women on the team, I wasn’t improving. When I asked my coach about it, she politely pointed out that I had an eating disorder and should get help. I wasn’t feeding myself enough to make up for the energy I exerted. I first had to emerge from the denial that everything was fine.
After getting help for the eating disorder I wound up seeing a therapist because I discovered that the eating disorder was only a symptom of a larger issue - anxiety. The therapist, who later became a dear friend, started out by telling me that what I really needed was to love myself, all of myself, even my anxiety. This was the second phase: learning to love myself.
When my therapist moved out of the area, she recommended above all that I should do some sort of body work. Tai Chi. Kung Fu. Yoga. Something to connect my mind with my body. Eventually I found my way to Anusara Yoga and Kimber’s classes. Through the practice of yoga and working with Kimber’s teachings, I discovered that to love myself, I also needed to love my body.
2) What practice or concept from the Love Your Body Workshop has most helped you change your relationship with your body?“My body is my best friend.” I come back to this quote and continue a conversation with myself. Do I feel this way? How so? What would it take for me to really feel this way?
I need to be around people that appreciate my body and appreciate their own bodies. I need to notice what comes up for me (rather than react) when I hear others complain about their bodies.
I need to listen to what my body loves, and serve it those things. Food. Water. Massage. Yoga. Sun. Vegging out on the couch. Cream cheese frosting. Fresh air. Shower. Hiking. Sex. Sleep.
It’s still helpful for me to practice looking at myself in the mirror, like you would look at a friend, and say, maybe even out loud, “Hi, how are you?”
3) Aside from what you learned in the Love Your Body Workshop, what helps you love your body?
· I’ve stopped looking at popular magazines. I mean, I’ll still peruse National Geographic. But I stay away from “photoshopped” images. Even though I know that the images are not real, there is a part of my brain that attaches to them and strives towards them. It’s like an addiction. So I choose not look at them. And instead, I try to find the beauty in every natural body I encounter.
· I find that my body (and mind) gets very agitated and irritated if I don’t go to at least one, preferably two yoga classes per week. I also practice at home when I can. The physical aspect of yoga helps my body to relax, and the teachings help me to pause and let my mind relax as well.
· My body also needs a good night’s rest, and in order to have that, it needs to wind down before bed. A hot shower or bath followed by a few restorative poses helps. I also force myself not to use the internet (check my email, facebook, etc) once I’m in bed.
· When I get hungry, I get grouchy. When I get grouchy, my negative tape starts rolling. Sometimes it says things like, “you really shouldn’t eat that.” Of course, this only adds to the hungry, grouchy, self-deprecating loop. So instead, I feed myself, enjoy my food, and that helps me to stay positive.
· I love the line: “My body is a living temple of love. My body is the body of the goddess.” It’s from a kirtan session, but I forget the name of the singer.
· One of my favorite quotes that reminds me how to love my body: “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek & find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” -Rumi
4) For women who are just starting out on the path of learning to love their bodies, do you have words of wisdom for them? Somewhere in you, you love your body already. It just takes patience and hope to rekindle that fire.