Do you ever catch your own reflection and think to yourself, “Is THAT what I look like? Is that how other people see me?” Scary isn’t it? The thought that is, that we can be so critical of ourselves. You leave the house for the night thinking you are looking okay, but die a thousand deaths when you see yourself tagged in a Facebook photo the next day. The camera may add a few pounds. But more to the point, your mind adds and subtracts pounds to match the messages you send about yourself.

If we truly recognized ourselves, i mean the heart of who we are, when we looked in the mirror, all the self critical thought would vanish. We would LOVE what we see, and inevitably that would make us happier and more attractive to be around. This is one of the principles of wholeness;

- Recognize that wellness is now, and wellness is ALL of you.

- Recognize the gift of the body.

- Recognize yourself, the essence beyond the ever changing surface. My hope is that you might get to the point where you can look in the mirror and see yourself as you really are, and feel giddy with affection. When you love the essence of what’s inside, you love and appreciate all that houses it.

It’s devastating NOT to recognize yourself. It certainly was in this story about a middle aged woman who suffers a heart attack. While on the operating table, she has a near death experience.

Seeing God, she asks, “Is my time up?”

God says, ‘No, you have another 43 years, 2 months and 8 days to live.’

Upon recovery, the woman decides to stay in the hospital and celebrate her survival. She has a face-lift, lip enhancement, boob job, lipo-suction, and tummy tuck.

After her last operation, she is released from the hospital. While crossing the street on her way home, she is hit and killed by a car.

Arriving before God, she demands, ‘I thought you said I had another 40 years? Why didn’t you pull me out of the path of the car?’

God replies, ‘I’m sorry, but I didn’t even recognize you!’

The real issue when it comes to body issues it not so much whether God recognizes you, as whether you recognize the divine within. What gets in the way of recognizing ourselves? A bombardment of negative messages and impossible standards.

I heard this saying once,

The church says: The body is a sin.
Science says: The body is a machine.
Advertising says: The body is a commodity.
The body says: I am.

That pretty much sums it up. Lets break a couple of those down a little.

1.       The church and bodies

Unfortunately, too many people had body-negative religion drilled into them from an early age. We are told that we are born “in sin” and that we have to somehow escape our bodies, and our natures. It’s such a life destroying message, always focused on being someone other than who you are.

Fortunately, many people have been liberated to do some enhancement surgery on their beliefs, a faith lift of sorts. You don’t need to parade as if God is Tyra Banks, and you’re one of the models trying to win approval on Heaven’s Next Top Saint. There is nothing to prove on the catwalk of life. Just walk your walk and stay on your path. Be at ease with yourself.

Counter the body-negative message with some affirmations of your body. The Bible says the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. The Buddha said, “Our body is a vehicle for awakening. Treat it with care.”

Maybe my favorite of all is this from the Sufi poet Hafiz,

When no one is looking and I want to kiss God, I just lift my own hand to my mouth.

Visualize your body as a sacred space and the vehicle through which you manifest love in the world, beginning with yourself.

2.       The media says the body is a commodity

The average fashion model weighs 23 percent less than the average woman and most runway models meet the body mass index criteria for Anorexia.

The pressure on models, and the subsequent pressure on all of us to match those standards, is at breaking point. Lives are destroyed by this body-negative message. I read recently that by age thirteen, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. I also read that only 2% of women in the world see themselves as beautiful. By adulthood our minds are filled with so much baggage, from religion and the media among other things that it’s almost impossible to recognize our essence through the self loathing and pressure to conform.

If only we remembered that beauty is diverse and diversity is beautiful. Historically, petite feet in China, sparkling eyes in Egypt and high foreheads in Elizabethan England were all marks of great beauty. In one place and time, thin is in. In another time and place, full and shapely is in. The Roman goddess Venus was said to be a plump and voluptuous shape, not to mention Mona Lisa, Lady Chatterley, and I could go on with beautiful women of history who had curves and diverse shapes.

Self worth can never be measured on scales as beauty is more than skin deep. You have a beauty that is ageless. Recognize yourself, stop judging and comparing yourself and appreciate your body in all its unique charm. Love and affirm every aspect of yourself.

Let me end with this beautiful and inspirational story from Alice Walker. Due to a childhood accident, Alice was wounded in one eye. The pellet from her brother’s BB gun left some white scar tissue and a large cataract in her eye. For six years, she was too ashamed to raise her head or look anyone in the face.

These are Alice’s own words describing an experience when she was 27 and caring for her three year old daughter Rebecca. She was terrified of what her daughter would think of her deformed eye.

Rebecca’s favorite television program was called “The Big Blue Marble.” It began with a picture of the earth as it appears from the moon. After the show, as I was putting Rebecca down for a nap, she suddenly focused on my eye. Something inside me cringed and got ready to protect itself. All children are cruel about physical differences, and the fact that they don’t always mean to be cruel doesn’t always seem to matter. I assumed my Rebecca would be the same. Rebecca then studied my face intently. She even held my face maternally between her dimpled little hands. And then, looking every bit as serious and lawyer-like as her father, she said – as if it may just possibly have slipped my attention – “Mommy, there’s a world in your eye.” And then gently, but with great interest she said, “Mommy, where did you get that world in your eye?”

Walker says that her fear and shame vanished almost immediately. She was finally able to look in the mirror and recognize herself…the way her daughter recognized her…and the way millions of people have now recognized her as a brilliant and impassioned author. She said this about her experience with her daughter,

Yeah, there is a world in my eye. And it is possible for me to love it. And in fact, for all it has taught me of shame and anger and inner vision, I do love it.

This is my message. You are beautiful. Let the words settle deep into your consciousness and filter through your mind’s thoughts, your body’s energy, and your spirit’s assurance. You radiate unique beams of beauty, and brighten the world in so many ways. So shine! No matter what anyone has ever said to you, and forgetting the media’s airbrushed illusion of perfection, you radiate your own distinctive brand of beauty. Shine. BE YOU TO THE FULL! Let your authentic beauty be an inspiration to all around you to claim their bodies and live their beauty.

Say to yourself regularly: I appreciate my beauty inside and out. I am whole in body, mind and spirit.

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  1. [...] on thriving in your body. Part one describes the essence of wellness as a choice to claim NOW. Part three is about recognizing the essence of who you are, that liberates your body to be all it can be. And [...]

  2. [...] I will write about why caring for your body is important, how your body is a spiritual vessel, recognizing your true essence and finding intrinsic value rather than looking outside of yourself for [...]

  3. Chris says:

    This is beautiful.  And just what I needed to hear.  Thank you. <3
     

  4. Laura says:

    I agree, that was beautiful, but, I hate to be negative, but it’s easy for you to say this being a man with a slim wife who you probably met when she was younger,  and children.  Men aren’t judged on their appearance very much.  If you’re a woman you are and that has a lot to do with finding a life partner and having a family. How would you feel to have no family and have no intamate physical contact with anyone? I do a lot of volunteer work but, like most people, I’d like to be more than a selfless servant.  I try to be positive, but it’s hard in this youth and beauty obsessed cultere and a culture that seems to live mostly inside their houses with their own families without the sense of community that used to exist. It’s kind of lonely.

  5. Mary Schinnerer says:

    Walking and walking… Thanks!

  6. Shaquille says:

    Laura you are thinking externally and letting outside influence define your life. Which would be opposite of the articles message. Believe you are beautiful, and look for something:someone truly inherently beautiful and you will find your family and sense of community you are looking for. And please, let’s not act like its not hard for a woman to find intimacy. Im guessing, U just keep looking for “perfect” matches change the way u interpret.

  7. Virginia Urbach says:

    A wonderful reminder of how we should see ourselves, magnificent beings.  Thank you for the article.

  8. What a wonderful post! Beautiful. :) Thank you for sharing. It took me about 25 years, but I figured out that I love my body as I love me, and I very much love who I am. The peace that comes with this revelation is wonderful – I would love everyone to experience it. :) This post could definitely help.Peace and Love to you!Meagan

  9. [...] Do you ever catch your own reflection and think to yourself, “Is THAT what I look like? Is that how other people see me?” Scary isn’t it?  [...]