When I was young, I didn’t think anything about my body. I lived in it.
Now, I’m aware of it all the time.
I have a hip issue, a shoulder situation and a knee thing. (I don’t call them problems.) I have turned into the sometimes limping and stiff vision of my elders. Instead of cursing myself and being angry, I embrace my body and all its imperfections. I love my body. My body has brought me here. My body has given me great pleasure. My body has birthed two children. My body has played thousands of hours of tennis. It has walked everywhere, run on beaches, hiked on mountains, skied and skated. It has sailed, walked cities, strolled through museums and sat in cathedrals and concerts all around the world.
My life shows up in my body. How can I blame it?
It’s time to leave the restaurant. Instead of just walking away from the table, I need to stand for a minute, let my knees soften and rearrange themselves so that I don’t limp across the room. I recognize myself in the memory of my grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles as they struggled to get up from the couch.
I think I can speak for most people when I say we are tortured by our bodies for our entire lives. We fret about our looks, our fat, our hair, our tummies, our ears, our thighs, our butts. We’re either too skinny or not toned enough. We pick out body parts to hate. We do surgical procedures and diets to get the body and face we think we should have.
All the the body is, is the magnificent temple of our soul. It is a vehicle for our presence as a conscious being on this earth. Everyone has a beautiful soul inside them, no matter what the body.
On birthdays, it is not uncommon to complain about being a year older, stiffer, more wrinkles, how hard it is to lose weight, the hair thinning and growing grey.
But on my birthday, I celebrate the fact that my soul had and will have another year on this earth. I thank my body for housing my most magnificent, most precious soul. I need to take care of my soul. My soul is so happy to be here, manifested on earth. And that’s what makes me want to care for its temple, my body.
My first yoga teacher, Don Niedermayer, taught me that we all practice our individual yoga because we all have our unique bodies, each with its own history. My body’s history is entirely different from yours. So, don’t look at my mat to see what I’m doing, and I won’t look at yours. My yoga will be different from your yoga. In difficult moments when I struggle or ache, I hear Don’s words: keep your eyes on your mat. There is no competition, no comparison, no shame.
I feel my pains everyday. But I try to love and accept them, not curse them. I need to take care of them. When my children were sick with an ailment, I didn’t curse them or their pain. I embraced them, soothed them, looking into how I could alleviate or heal. And so I do the same with my magnificent body.
What’s your relationship with your body? Be honest! Doesn’t matter if you’ve made peace with it or not. We’re here to learn and share.
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