20 Sep Embodying self-acceptance
A few weeks ago I was sitting at my desk at home, elbows on the table. Whilst writing up an essay, I slumped my chin on the palm of my hand. I then felt my pulse so intensely under my chin – now, this is going to sound weird but it was a sensation that I have never felt before. I burst into tears. I held my wrist in gratitude, thankful to the Creator of my pulse. Why?
I have struggled with body image for years. Anxieties and insecurities about my body and it’s worth have been simmering since childhood. I went into therapy two years ago and while it was, and still is, extremely beneficial, it was all mind focused. I never truly tried to accept and appreciate my body for what is actually is, rather the heart-work was based on changing my thinking, my perspective.
Feeling my pulse unintentionally made me cry. I have been spewing mean thoughts at my body for so long, clutching onto resentment for not being how I wanted it to be, how society tells me what a woman’s body should look like. Despite my loathing, my heart, with the permission of Allah, continued to pump blood through my veins, nourishing me and allowing me to breathe.
This was a major calling to embody self-acceptance. It doesn’t just come from working on grief, perspective, unlearning and relearning – these things are important. The addition of movement and meditation brings attention to what the body continues to do and can do, as opposed to what it just is.
Our bodies are always speaking to us, telling us what it needs. I went from being a gym bunny, needing to do weights and squats multiple times a week, to gentle yoga movements and breathwork. But I didn’t realise WHY my body was seeking this physical transformation until I felt my pulse telling me that this is my healing. My medicine is to drop out of my head and fall into my body. To move intuitively.
I invite you to try a few practices to journey back to your body, with intention, until you find what brings you comfort:
- yoga – sun salutation is dear to me.
- dance – with or without music. This one was a big one for me. I stopped dancing because I felt I didn’t have the “right” body for it. Now I find myself dancing as me, taking up space, swaying in ways that does not look like dance, reclaiming my body, unapologetically (in the comfort of my own home and completely alone of course!!!)
- abhyanga – an ayurvedic healing therapy. Daily warm oil, self body massage; ‘pay particular attention to parts of your body where you hold stress, whether it is your
shoulders, lower back or heart-centre. Allow these areas to open with every massage as you breathe into the tension’ – Sahara Rose.
- walk – especially in nature, is so therapeutic.
- breathwork – eyes closed, belly breathing. Sitting comfortably on the floor, legs crossed, eyes closed and shoulders relaxed. Put one hand on your stomach, below the belly button and the other below the breasts. Expand your belly as you inhale deeply, slowly, mindfully and pull your belly inwards as you exhale. Repeat at least 7 times.
- Salah – last but by far not the least. An act of gratitude and worship to the One that gifted me this body. A trust. To be used purposefully, to be honoured, loved and respected.
Image from Ayurveda by Sahara Rose Ketabi, p. 99