As part of my intention to live with “off the charts” optimism, I’m writing about thriving in body, mind and spirit. My last series was about claiming the power of your mind, and this is a series about claiming the power of your body. Here’s to an awesome life for ALL, in ALL ways.
May you stretch to claim your full potential as a whole person full of love, light and possibility.
May your mind, body and spirit hum in unison like a barbershop trio, putting a spring in your step, big love in your heart, and purpose in your plans.
In this first piece, I will make two points. Wellness is NOW and wellness is ALL of you. In the next pieces, 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 validation.
1. Wellness is NOW
Claim the full power of wellness right now. Usually we think of wellness as something we have to work towards. You might go on a new diet or start a new exercise program, thinking that in three months or after losing a few pounds, or when you lower those cholesterol numbers you will be healthy. But wellness is not a destination. It is a CHOICE to be WHOLE right now. Wellness is the decision to be at ease with who you are.
From that basis of self acceptance, you can diet and exercise in a way that matches your goals, and you can’t fail. Make time for activities that strengthen you in mind, body and spirit, for sure. Be the healthiest YOU, you can be. But do it from a place of abundance, and not scarcity.
I have learned from experience that when I start out on a diet, exercise or meditation regimen from a basis that I am not good enough as I am, the program inevitably fades and I quickly put back on all the weight, heart burn and anxiety I had before I started. Health programs based in scarcity are classic yo-yo schemes. The weight comes off, and packs quickly back on. The diet improves and quickly nosedives. The meditation plan builds peace and then quickly builds resentment. (read on for more about thriving in body)
The problem is that I am feeding the wrong hunger. I am trying to feel good about myself by proving a point and this is an insatiable beast. No amount of exercise can make me feel better about myself. I race around the gym like a greyhound chasing a rabbit. Self acceptance is always just out of reach because it’s based on merit and not the unconditional grace of being YOU. With or without the extra pounds, you are enough. With or without a juice cleanse, you are enough. With or without a meditation plan, you are enough. All those activities are awesome ways to express who you already know yourself to be,
From a place of abundance, you can add those activities with effortless joy. They will be more effective, more fun and less of a burden.
Wellness is not just your physical feeling in your body. It is the feeling of being whole and at ease. We all know people who have illness or disease who are completely at ease with who and where they are. They know wellness. We also know people who are disease and illness free but have no peace of mind. They may well be looking for wellness in the wrong places.
Wellness doesn’t happen TO you. It’s not something you need to earn or prove. It shines THROUGH you. It is the natural unity of body, mind and spirit when fear is set aside and you remember who you are. Wellness is a sense of belonging; in your own body, in relationship and in community. Wellness runs a lot deeper than the shell or surface self which with a small investment can be enhanced or with some small effort can be sculpted. It is a state that resonates with your highest self.
Surrender to the wellness that your highest self wants you to enjoy. Surrender to the incredible well-being that is yours to claim right NOW. Let go of striving and let wellness shine in your life.
2. Wellness is ALL of you
Wellness is not about being perfect. It is about being perfectly YOU. ALL of you. The Vagina Monologues has become a phenomenon since it launched in the 90s. It’s controversial for sure, but no matter what your opinion, you have to agree that it changed the way we think about bodies. The creator, Eve Ensler, hoped to lessen violence towards women by shattering the taboo on womens’ body parts. The Vagina Monologues was part of a new wave of feminism (no bra burning here) that was committed to using sexy humor to raise awareness of the violence we do to ourselves and each other.
It raised awareness about a very real challenge- self acceptance. In an interview Ensler said,
After I had done `The Vagina Monologues` I was feeling pretty good about my vagina. I thought I was kind of home free, and then I looked down one day and discovered my not-so-flat post-40 (year old) stomach and I realized the self-hatred had moved up.
I know the feeling. Moving into middle age, my self-hatred got whiplash from trying to keep up with the changes up and down my body, from graying hair to a growing midsection. I realized that I needed a new paradigm for thinking about bodies. There is hope. To think that Helen Mirren, at age 66, was voted sexiest woman in 2011 is awesome. She beat out Elle McPherson and all the Victoria’s Secret and Sports illustrated models, and she did it because of the way she holds herself. She is at ease in her body, she belongs in her own skin and it shows. This is wellness, and it’s a huge encouragement to those of us who are getting a bit longer in the tooth. British women’s rights activist Marie Stopes said,
You can take no credit for beauty at sixteen. But if you are beautiful at sixty, it will be your soul’s own doing.
Think of sexy in a new way. Look at the wrinkles on your face, and see only smile marks and character lines. Look at your spare tires, and see bay windows, revealing your panoramic view of life. Look at the stretch marks and see a road map that tells the story of your amazing journey. Look at the extra meat on your arms and see wings that help you to soar like an eagle. Look at your love handles, and see only lurve!!!!!!!!!
I’m sure this issue is felt differently by women, and it’s risky to write about as a man. I like the old saying,
Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a big gut, and still think they are attractive to the opposite sex.
But it is a men’s issue as well. One third of those with eating disorders are now men. 80% of men struggle with weight issues (the same percentage as women) Here’s one for the men. When you look at the awning over the toy store, see only the container that holds so many good times. Life is meant to be fun, and activities that limit your fun, limit your wellness.
From this place of joy and acceptance, you can attempt to flatten your gut, tuck your tummy, expand your lips and remove your lines…or not. Either way, do it from a place of abundance and self acceptance and not because you are trying to achieve some impossible societal standard or ease some inner self loathing.
Learn to like the one person you are with from birth to death and you will unlock the key to wellness. Learn to love ALL the person you see in the mirror, and especially those parts you can’t see, and you will uncover profound self acceptance. Learn to appreciate the changes and evolving sexiness of who you are, and you will be at home in your body.
Last words go to Geneen Roth, author of Women, Food and God, (more from Geneen here)
It’s never been true, not anywhere at any time, that the value of a soul, of a human spirit, is dependent on a number on a scale. We are unrepeatable beings of light and space and water who need these physical vehicles to get around. When we start defining ourselves by that which can be measured or weighed, something deep within us rebels.
We don’t want to EAT hot fudge sundaes as much as we want our lives to BE hot fudge sundaes. We want to come home to ourselves.