If you could use some inspiration to more fully love and accept your own body, you’ll enjoy this guest post from Lisa Vincent, a frequent contributor to The Soulmate Experience on Facebook. Lisa, we are deeply moved by your willingness to share your story, to be "spiritually naked" in the world so that we all may learn through you!
Perfect timing. I had spent a long day working at my computer and was totally exhausted. I wanted to drop immediately into bed. I was in the bathroom getting ready for the evening when I looked over and saw the bathtub. It called to me. I am currently staying at a friend’s place, and my home for the past two years only had a shower. I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more this beautiful Friday night, in the exciting city of San Francisco, than lay in that bathtub and read The Soulmate Experience.
I didn’t know when I began reading the second chapter, “Loving Your Body,” that I could not have created a better setting than lying naked in a pool of shallow, warm water, unable to avoid the entirety of my nakedness. Little did I know that during this reading session I would not only be physically naked, but that the exercises in this chapter would lovingly undress me into emotional nudity as well.
Loving my body is something I’ve slowly been making progress toward. I have spent a good many years being verbally and emotionally abusive to myself - mind, body, and spirit. I found the exercises in The Soulmate Experience that coach you into loving your body to be very powerful.
One of the exercises is to choose very specific body parts and study them: identify what role they play in your life, appreciate them, thank them, love them. I started, as the book suggests, with my hands. I sometimes look at my hands in disdain because the skin that covers them is not as thick and resilient as it once was, causing wrinkles and the ability to see more clearly the veins that carry blood through my body. As I lay in the tub, looking at the amazing hands that allow me to write this very post, the hands that held my only child, the fingers that ran through past lovers’ hair, I felt immense gratitude and love. It was as if I separated ME from my hands. I looked at them as an entirely separate entity. Like an old, beloved friend.
I remembered sitting on my Grannie’s lap as a child, holding her hand in mine and tracing her pronounced veins with my finger. One of those times, my mother saw this and told me that what I was doing was rude. My grandmother must have loved and accepted her hands, or maybe it was me she loved and accepted, because she told my mother that it was alright and allowed me to continue tracing.
I had no idea, at this young age, that protruding veins were not considered beautiful. I loved this part of my Grannie’s body. I loved the way her smooth, shiny, veiny hands looked and felt in mine. Who decided that these features were anything less than magnificent? And when did I start believing it? If I thought of my Grannie as beautiful then, can I think of myself as beautiful now?
This series of thoughts extended to the rest of my body. The book mentions a woman being grateful for her soft belly that had once protected her unborn child. I contemplated this as I lay naked, pushing into the softness of my own belly. I began to weep in gratitude for all of the parts of my body that worked perfectly together to create and deliver my own cherished child. This belly of mine represents the MIRACLE that occurred there. How could this piece of me, which played such an important part of something so miraculous, deserve anything less than my reverence?
If negative thoughts about my hands and my belly were lies, then what other lies had I believed? Is that small roll of flesh on my back, below my bra, really that bad? And what about the texture of my thighs? Is anything less than perfectly smooth flesh really disgusting? Would I have thought so as a child if no one had told me it was? Are my legs any less worthy of love, appreciation, and gratitude for carrying me around all of these years? Will my lover still enjoy having these legs wrapped around him during a passionate night of uninhibited sex? How could the distraction of not loving this part of my body inhibit that passion?
Do the imperfections of these body parts mean that I am not sexy? Oh no, folks. I AM sexy. The Soulmate Experience explains a mirror exercise. The goal in this exercise is to see your body as a whole. Although I have not had time to practice this regularly yet, I can tell you that it works. In my Bikram yoga practice, I come face-to-face with myself in the mirror, in form-fitting clothes, and watch myself twist into very interesting positions on a regular basis. When I first started this practice, I was obsessed with what I saw as the flaws of my individual body parts. Then, one day, I saw MYSELF. I was struck by the realization of my beautiful form. I stood in awe at the awareness of my body as a whole. Now, every time I pass a full-length mirror, I make it a point to stop and appreciate the shape of my sexy body.
The “Loving Your Body” chapter does not focus just on appearance; I just strongly relate to that. It also encourages you to care for yourself. Listen to your body. Attend to its physical needs. Develop a caring, loving relationship with yourself.
I knew before reading this chapter of The Soulmate Experience that it is important to care for, love, and accept my body, but following the exercises encouraged me to take the time necessary to deeply consider the concepts within. These changes in thought pattern are invaluable. My body is my home. It’s where I live. Shouldn’t we all be comfortable, happy, and at peace in our own homes?