As we approach the end of the month, I want to revisit our theme, but from a slightly different angle. This month, we have focused on embodying love. As is commonly the case in the month of February, the heart of that (pun intended) has been about the love portion of that phrase. Loving ourselves, loving others, expressing love, accepting love, communicating love, sharing love. We concentrated on how we can live our lives as an expression of love. Today I want to shift the focus a little on something in the first half of the theme. Body.
We all have so many opinions about what our body is, or what it is supposed to be. What we want it to be or what society makes us think it should be. Sadly, even in our discussion of “embodying” love, or embodying any emotion or characteristic, we often don’t take to heart the root of that word - body.
In this world, it is very common for most people to either not consider their body at all, or to view it as an inconvenience, as something that has to be managed or dealt with. For so many people, their body is something that holds them back from some goal or activity. It is even viewed as something to be fixed, changed or altered in some way in order to fit into the world or space that we have created around us.
The truth is, your body is the only thing that you take with you everywhere you go. It is the only thing that is with you from the moment you enter this world until the moment you leave it. Your body is more than just a physical object, it is the vehicle through which you experience this life. It is the gateway to your senses and it is home to your spirit and soul, keeper of your memories, holder of your heart.
So why, then, is there this disconnect? Why do we view our body as something separate from who we truly are, why do we reject it even when focusing on projecting, sharing and accepting love? How do we learn to actually be in our own body?
Wait a minute, you might be thinking. I’m in my body all the time. It’s the only way I can be reading this or doing all of the things I need to do all day long. And you aren’t wrong - you used your legs, arms, hands and feet to get to where you are right in this moment. But for how much of that were you kindly and consciously noticing and considering the nuances of what your body was actually doing? Were you truly listening to what your body was telling you?
Being in your body does not merely mean using your body. Being in your body means lovingly accepting your body as your home and nurturing it as such. It means truly communicating with your body - listening, interacting and responding to what it is telling you.
How many times have you “fought through the pain” or ignored signs of hunger or fatigue or otherwise ignored signals that your body was sending you? And why do we do that? The answer usually has something to do with something outside of us - to finish a project, to meet a deadline, to prove to someone else how strong or capable or disciplined we are. Mind over matter, you have WORK to do. It is in these moments, though, that we are severing the connection that we have with our true selves, that we are truly separating ourselves from… well, ourselves.
So as we come to the end of this month of embodying love, I would like to encourage each of you to truly take that to heart and to allow yourselves to consciously inhabit your whole self.
Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Become familiar with the way your body speaks to you. Use your five senses not only to explore the world around you, but to actively internalize how your body responds to these stimuli. This also encompases paying attention to your body’s cues. Our bodies often speak softly and gently at first - so softly that we have conditioned ourselves not to notice the subtle messages that it is sending us that we need to fuel or rest or otherwise tend to a basic need. Give yourself permission to notice, listen and explore the cues your body sends you.
Explore movement. Dance. Jump. Stretch. Walk. Run. Without judgement, without a plan, without rules. So many of us stop ourselves from fully exploring the movements that our bodies are capable of because we have told ourselves that we can’t. “I’m not a dancer” or “I’m not a runner.” These limiting beliefs are your mind pulling you away from your body. Take time to lovingly experiment. To try new things. To reconnect your body to your mind and to teach yourself the joys of that connection.
Express yourself. Yes, through movement as discussed above, but also through your words, your actions and your way of presenting yourself. So many of us place rules on what we can or cannot say, do or wear because of notions we have about our bodies. Once again, that is allowing your mind to override your body, and this time, it’s also limiting your potential. Wear the crop top. Answer the question. Go on that adventure. All of those are expressions of your true self.
Use all of your senses. Close your eyes and listen. Open your eyes and look at the shapes and colors around you. Breathe deeply and see what you can smell. Savor every taste and explore every flavor in every bite.
Walk barefoot. Sit in the grass or on the sand. Ground yourself in nature with as few barriers as possible. This literal connection with the Earth is a reconnection with to root of who you are.
Speak lovingly to yourself. To all of yourself. Especially to the parts to which you have been most unkind in the past. Your body is listening.
Keep a journal of your journey. Write down what you are exploring and how each new experience makes you feel. It is uncomfortable at first, but allowing that, accepting that, even finding a way to embrace that is critical to finding what works for you.
Your body is your home, and it has done so much for you for your entire life. It has allowed you to experience every emotion, to see amazing things and to explore this world. It has healed wounds, breathed countless breaths, and has brought you to exactly this moment. So as we complete our exploration of embodying love, I hope that you will include these practices of being in your body itself.