"My tight jeans are reminding me that after moving three months ago, I’m feeling a bit disoriented."
I tried on my favorite jeans this morning and they were a bit more snug than I expected. I glanced into the mirror hoping to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, suspicions were confirmed. My cute mini love handles graduated to full muffin top stature. It was enough to provoke a low level of pressure to do something about it. Then, the shame of hypocrisy set in because I teach about body image, self acceptance and compassion. I felt a bit deflated, ironically.
For years when this feeling would arise, I would activate the old “fix it” mode where I would quickly consider how I could eat clean for a few days and up my exercise regimen. This would work for a short time and feel reasonably good—until it didn’t work anymore. I was always looking for the answer where it couldn’t be found. What I know now that I didn’t realize then is that when I’m reaching for food, fixing myself, over-scheduling or seeking approval, I’m really looking for home. I’m looking to feel at home in my body. Home, at its best, represents a place we feel safe to put our guard down. Where we feel received, loved and connected. When our body feels at home, accepted and loved, our heart can then rest. Many of us have found our bodies to be a hostile environment and, at best, an object to be tolerated. We forget that while we are here on earth our body is the home we live in; a rest haven for our soul and the interface by which we experience life.
Many of us are so uncomfortable in our own skin that we wage war on our bodies. Much of the attack comes from our own self-deprecating thoughts. We are integrated beings. This means that we are made of many parts: body, mind, emotions and spirit. But all of them are interconnected. Our thoughts alone can lock our bodies into a chronic stress response … fight or flight. The discomfort and stress in our body then creates a chaotic environment for the soul. No one wins in this war.
The cultural noise only adds to this internal conflict.
Much of the world objectifies the body, becoming obsessed and fixated upon it. And we are encouraged to use our bodies to receive love, approval and power. In some faith traditions the opposite is true. The body is something to be ashamed of, therefore, we must reject it; saying that it is just temporary and simply does not matter. All of this creates a violence against the soul and body. What if our bodies were an equal partner to our soul? What if being at home in our bodies, finding rest in our bodies, having love and connection with our bodies, actually ignites our lives to contribute to this world we live in? Could it be that my body invites me to listen to my soul? My tight jeans are reminding me that after moving three months ago, I’m feeling a bit disoriented. My physical home is new and I have been defending against feeling vulnerable. I have been striving, reaching and over-scheduling. And as a result, I’ve become emotionally, physically and spiritually threadbare.
As I look in the mirror again, a new thought emerges. I actually have a choice to see this as a problem to be fixed or a Divine message. I can become discouraged by extra weight, or I can consider the “weight of my worthiness.” I can appreciate the fact that God wired my tender soul in a sensitive body that leans deeply into life. I can allow this vulnerability, and move towards loving actions that foster connection. The “extra cushion” has simply been a place-holder for where I have felt disconnected and afraid. It’s my body’s way of expressing my tender humanity’s deeper need. It’s reminding me of what I’ve ignored. “Punishing” this weight off would be a weapon of warfare against my body and my soul’s vulnerability. I’m sure the extra weight will be naturally surrendered as I’m heeding its message and returning to love. The timing of that is really none of my business.
Consider the message in any extra weight you have. If the weight had a message, what would it say?
Bring awareness to the dialogue in your mind when you glance in the mirror. What messages are being spoken to your body and soul in that moment? Are they messages that bring life and foster connection? Or do they sound more like a battle cry?
Simply notice without judging yourself.