Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Body As My Teacher

When I notice pain or discomfort in my body today, I know it means something. I don't ignore it like I used to, pretend it's not there, or drive through it, hoping it will magically go away. My body has become one of my greatest teachers and I take the time to stop and truly listen to what it is telling me now, rather than letting my monkey mind override my intuition and run the show. I have been so disconnected from my body for most of my life and it wasn't until I took a meditation training course with Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine that I suddenly had an epiphany about my own personal mind-body connection.

For the longest time, I have treated my body as the enemy. Constantly punishing it with little or no food, lack of sleep, crazy diets, eating disorders, diet pills, alcohol, drugs, verbal and emotional abuse, and a total lack of love and respect. I don't blame myself now because I didn't know any better at the time, I was doing the best I could with what resources and tools I had access to; which was close to none.

When I became fully present in my life and started progressing on my yoga journey, I came to realize that although my body is not my identity, I still need to treat it with the care, love, and attention that it deserves. This was difficult because the #1 rule I had learned growing up was: "Be Skinny & Be Pretty at Any Cost." This belief system lead to an all-out internal war; pitting my mind against my body- mind being the unceasingly torturous dictator. My mind would never allow my body to be skinny enough or pretty enough for me to feel happy with myself- and thus, over time, I grew to despise both.

Through the gradual process of a steady Yoga practice and mindful meditation, my rigid attitude slowly softened, but it wasn't until the meditaion training weekend that I really accepted and began to love my body as the incredible and miraculous physical manifestion of life form that it is. Lorin and Camille have a very different type of meditation philosophy than I had ever experienced before. On this particular weekend, they instructed a form of meditaion that involved incorporating body and mind together as one. It was not just sitting on a pillow, closing my eyes and focusing on my breath, but really, truly, and fully experiencing how meditation can be felt in every cell of my physical being. 

As this weekend came to a close, I came to the realization that I had to accept and love myself exactly where I was, and in my body as it was, in order to heal. No more waiting for the attainment of the perfect weight, the right length of hair, the absence of blemishes on my skin, or even a fresh manicure or pedicure. I learned to love my body in any and every state and form, and with any condition or crutch; because my body is the vehicle for my Spirit, which has no template to adhere to and only desires freedom from suffering, love and to be united with the Universe and all it's glory. If that's not the most amazing reason to love myself where I am and for exactly who I am in this moment, I don't know what is. 

"Like the sky opens after a rainy day, we must open to ourselves...Learn to love yourself for who you are and open so the world can see you shine." 

~James Poland

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