Body Love? Part II...It may sound a bit heady...
Updated: Jul 17, 2018
There was a moment a year and a half ago that I changed. I always believed that change was hard, that change "takes time". Now I know differently. I had believed there would always be wavering, like I had for so many years. But that moment was different.
I sat in an easy pose, crossed legs on my worn Yoga mat, peaceful on the brick patio beneath the birch tree. There was a soft breeze, quiet and gentle, allaying my body and brain. Birds sang in the glory of a summer morning, the sun rising behind the birch and perched chickadees, allowing a twinkle of light to cascade over my skin. The air was pregnant with the fragrance of lilac and rhododendron blossoms, pleasantly consuming the senses.
Mornings like that one nurtured my tired soul. On my mat, lost in those perfect moments, I found peace. Yet, once I entered back into the daily routine, away from that centeredness and serenity, my mind returned to chaos and obsession.
That morning I contemplated a life struggle with food and body acceptance. I had been seeking relief earnestly through meditation and ineffective "self coaching"; empty words of praise chanting in my brain that seemed like nothing more than lies no matter how many times repeated. But that's what is supposed to work, right? Being a psychotherapist of course I was educated in various therapies that delved into beliefs tooling impressions on the mind causing heartache and confusion. I had been trying to apply such therapies to my own workings, but the anxiety and emotional pain I was in seemed to overrule all rationality. Nothing was working and an insidious idea had begun to emerge, this is how I will be for the rest of my life... I will never be free.
That morning for a moment I became a philosopher, I asked myself, in all honesty, what do I believe a thinner body will give me? I allowed this question to swell and waited patiently, giving time to seek the truth. Too often I had jumped to the first answer, a cursory response, without allowing an inquiry to marinate. Instead, that morning, I sought honesty over a band-aid.
Eventually what I came to is this: I believe having a thin body will bring me confidence, make me an acceptable and desirable human being, and will bring me happiness and self-love. Yet, the key questioned followed... has it ever worked?
The response was blunt and obvious. No. No it had never worked. In all the years that I had battled food and held hatred towards my form it had never worked. Not when I was 140 pounds, not when I was 100 pounds, not when I balanced in the middle. Grappling with weight regardless of the platitudes of others, holding an iron grip on "bad" foods that led to retaliatory binges, running my body angrily into the ground; all of it had lead to nothing but pain.
So why on earth did I still believe it? Where is the sanity in it all? I had no lofty or brilliant response simply because there was none that was passable by the rational mind. For a moment I was dumbfounded, thought came to a standstill as I faced the reality that I had believed something through a lifetime that was so absurd.
And the last question to follow ... what do I want to believe?
Can beliefs that are so ingrained be altered in a moment? Doesn't it take eons of rigid practice to retrain what the Yogis call Samskara, entrenched patterns in the mind? Or can a person simply choose, in a given second, to believe something else, something purposeful and desirable? Before that moment I regarded such changes as only obtainable through concentrated and prolonged effort. However, I also had accepted a conflicting idea. As a practicing Yogini, I consider within each human being lies all the power of the Universe. According to the teachings of Yoga, we are a single consciousness, all of us are an expression of the One. Doesn't this further establish that we also have access to that power? If I honestly believed that, isn't all the power of the Universe capable of initiating change in the blink of an eye?
I realize that this may read as a bit contrived or heady. Yet I can promise you that this was my train of thought that blissful day beneath the birch and tender morning sun. It was a moment of insight that I had never experienced before. While I may have read such introspective philosophy in the past, I had never gotten it. In that moment, for a reason unknown to me, I got it.
And I changed. Just like that.
To be continued...