When you believe your thoughts, you rape your body by saying it should be healthier, it should be taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, younger, stronger. You take a perfect body and trash it. ~Byron Katie
The My Body My Temple class was born out of my Dissolving Self-criticism class because so many women’s self-critical thoughts revolves around their body and their looks. I met women who had been single for decades because they refused to date. They were convinced they were “too unattractive” to get naked and sexual with a man, and that no man would ever want them. I met women who had not gotten the medical attention they needed because they did not want to undress in front of a doctor. I met women who rarely and reluctantly made love with their husbands because they were too uncomfortable in their own skin. I met women who never gave themselves the pleasure of going to the beach or hot springs for the same reasons. I met women who didn’t apply for jobs they were qualified for because they believed they were “too fat.” I met women who put up with physical abuse because the were convinced they deserved it because they were “ugly.”
Even if it’s not that severe, most women experience a constant inner war, an ongoing daily tension, an ever-present low-grade un-comfortableness around their bodies. Every time they look in a mirror, get dressed or go to yoga they judge, compare and criticize themselves. Women are so used to it, that they think it’s normal to live that way.
I was saddened to discover so much pain in my fellow sisters and absolutely stunned at the fact that IT DIDN’T MATTER AT ALL WHAT ANY OF THESE WOMEN LOOKED LIKE! I have had models, ex-models, skinny picture-perfect yoga teachers, beautiful young women take the class alongside older, rounder women and we all carry the same judgments. Another insight that blew my mind; women discovered that they often compared their current body with images of their younger body and they realized that THEY JUDGED THEIR BODIES JUST AS MUCH WHEN THEY WERE YOUNGER! So clearly the problem is not with our bodies but with our judgmental mindset and the Western cultural beliefs around feminine beauty that we have internalized as our own.
When you identify and write down, question and see through, and explore who you could be without these body-critical thoughts a new way of looking is born. You begin to take off your critical glasses and see from a new place within. Looking from a place of inner beauty you see only outer beauty. We project our inner state of mind onto our body and the world. It is possible to see a whole new body emerging without changing it all. No weight loss or cosmetic surgery needed!
For example: My belly is too flabby. Is that true? Most of the time a strong YES! comes up, because there it is, the flabby belly, you just have to look down to see the proof.
Can you absolutely know that your belly is too flabby? Can you absolutely know that this thought is true? At the start of the class most women are still convinced and say YES! to this question. The thought is still held in place by a network of underlying thoughts around feminine beauty so it’s hard to distinguish that it is in fact just a thought and not actual reality. Towards the end of the class women begin to have a lot more spaciousness around these thoughts and come to see that NO is the only possible answer.
How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I dislike my belly. I keep pulling it in. I don’t enjoy eating because I am constantly thinking about calories and how my belly will get even flabbier. I try to cover my belly when I go out dancing. I don’t feel truly happy in my own skin because there is that belly that needs to shrink.
Who would you be without the thought that my belly is too flabby? Looking down at my belly without this thought it’s just a sweet, round belly that has carried two children. It is what it is. Without comparison and without future/past images I love it. I love touching it, it feels so soft. Without the thought I am in the present moment just enjoying my belly and all of my body.
Turn the thought around: My belly is not too flabby. It is not too flabby for me to enjoy yoga, dancing or anything in my life. It is not too flabby for my sweetie to love me. It is not too flabby because only when I compare it to something else, an image in my mind, can it be too flabby or too tight.
My belly is fine as it is. Relaxing into that turnaround is such a relief. Coming into love and sweetness with my belly. And, of course, it’s fine as it is, nothing else is possible.
Many women believe that the body-critical thoughts cause them to exercise more, to eat better, to constantly be on a mission to lose weight and tighten their muscles. They believe that if they stop criticizing their bodies they will just get out of control; eat like pigs, stop exercising and get super fat. What we have found through inquiry in my classes is the exact opposite. When I live in peace and love with my body, I feel a deep inner satisfaction and my cravings for sweets and unhealthy stuff are greatly diminished. Without pushing myself to exercise out of self-judgments movement of the body becomes so much more fun and I end up doing a lot more of it. I dance more wildly, I go to yoga more often, I am in touch with what my body truly needs so it finds its perfect balance effortlessly.
If you would like to join women from around the world to shake off these painful beliefs and fall in love with your body temple check out my website. The My Body My Temple class usually runs in May.
The 4 questions in my blog are from The Work of Byron Katie, you can learn more about it at: www.thework.com