I was teaching a workshop in New Jersey recently on Body Empowerment and the power of unwrapping the mind’s grip on how we understand our body.
I asked friends to create space between their body and their identity. We worked to observe where our self-understanding was mapped on the body and how this enslaved our sense of contentment and worth. It was remarkable (albeit deep) stuff.
Now, this is work I’ve done for years, and yet, every time I share these exercises I feel nailed. I feel nailed because I still bodily identify too. I still catch myself wrapping my self-worth on my body.
You Are Not Your Body
Yoga teaches us the we are not our bodies, yet we have a body. Yoga teaches us that the more we can mindfully tap into sensation the more we tap into innate knowledge. Yoga teaches us that our body is something to be celebrated because it is the physical manifestation of the divine gift of life and love within us. Yoga teaches us that we are not fixed, rather, we are beyond definition.
And, yet, we still get caught trying to ‘claim’ a body. A fixed idea of self. A physical state that we believe says: I am worthwhile and lovable. Or, conversely: I am suffering and I need help. We play poker for acceptance through our physical body. For our heart’s sake, this needs to stop.
We are more than our appearance. And, identifying ourselves based on physical traits is as daft as saying: I am my job. Or, I am my relationship. Or, I am my belongings. (Can you say ipad mini...?!) In truth, we are way more than a sum of our ‘things.’ We are more than our thoughts. We are more than our accomplishments. We are more than our bodies.
You Are Dear, Body
At the workshop, I invited friends to put themselves back into their hearts. We wrote to our bodies from a space of compassion and love.
Dear Body, Thank you for not giving up on me when I attacked you... Dear Body, I know it’s not your fault... Dear Body, I love you.
Sadly, this is only part of the healing. We must embody something different too. One cannot think themselves into love; you have to feel it.
After the workshop, I found myself crying during my home practice. Nailed, I listened to my body hum a melody of unexpressed sadness. You see, for so long my body was the object of my self-loathing. And, it still hurts. My body still aches from years of torment and detachment. But, it’s not my body’s fault. In fact, it never was my dear body’s fault.
My sweetie caught me crying that day. I looked at him and from a place of deep vulnerability I asked him: Am I going to be okay? He answered: You already are. You are already just right.
When we take the scapegoat off our bodies, we remember: We are ALL already okay.
Dear Body, you haven’t done anything wrong, and I know that. Thank you for sticking by me, always. I love you back.