Go ahead. It’s your special assignment. You will need: about five dollars, your reusable mug, and at least 45 minutes.
1. Go to a café and order your favorite drink. You know, the Americano, the frappaccino (my son fondly calls them “crappacinos”), or the machiatto. Whatever. Just make sure the café has people in it. Lots of them. Deserted cafes are not appropriate for this exercise, unless you don’t mind making the baristas uncomfortable.
2. Now sit down at a table and… stare at people. Actually, look at them out of the corners of your eyes while wearing dark sunglasses. Better? Find some position where you can discretely watch the folks around you.
3. Notice how the woman in front of you is standing. What do you like about her? Maybe you covet her jacket, or admire how she wears her hair. Look for something good about her. Maybe you like the way she’s patient with her child, or how she’s moving her head to the music of her ipod.
4. Look more closely. Does she look like she feels comfortable in her body? Does she inhabit the space around her on shrink into herself? Does she seem unselfconscious or the opposite? Does she seem caring? Harried? Bored? Content? Did she notice you looking at her? Did she smile or scowl?
5. Go on to the man behind you and notice the same things. Notice the outer appearance first, notice something you like, then go on and look for the more subtle clues about how they carry themselves, how they feel about themselves in the world.
6. Find someone whose energy you find appealing. After looking at a few people, feel free to come back to someone you already looked at.. Maybe they reflect something you don’t normally experience, a quiet serenity or a buoyant sassiness. Maybe it’s someone who looks at home in her (or his) body and happy to be alive, or someone who inhabits the space around her easily, confidently. Whoever it is, whatever the feeling is, close your eyes and imagine what it feels like to embody that in the world. Breathe in the energy of that feeling: confidence, enjoyment, and well-being. Sit in a way that reflects those feelings in your body and heart. Invite that feeling into yourself.
Perhaps you’re wondering, why should I sit in a café and stare at people? Thanks for asking.
1. You learn to look beyond the surface.
2. You learn to see the good in people, both at and below the surface.
3. You notice how the energy of other people affects you. Some people, you want to imitate how they are in their bodies. Other people, you definitely don’t.
4. You see how often a person’s appearance doesn’t translate into feeling good about themselves. A person who has what you consider the ideal body type might seem very unhappy. Another person whose body type you don’t appreciate much, might seem very confident and at ease within themselves.
5. Many of the people we “see” in our lives are actors and models on screens and billboards. When we look at real people we learn to see and appreciate the diversity of bodies all around us.
Expand your ability to appreciate and learn from the folks around you just by pausing and noticing their bodies and energy. Offer a blessing out to those who seem to need one and invite in the energy of those who look like they have some to spare. You may be the one who shifts someone else’s energy!
[As a side note, you might want to try this exercise in the Actual Café in Oakland on San Pablo at Alcatraz. I hear they have some spontaneous Love Your Body artwork in progress. Check it out on the way to the bathroom. Thanks for the tip, Laura L.!]
Love Your Body Blog Part 64