Alright...everyone sit down and let's take a big drink of vulnerability tea together and talk about body acceptance and body positivity.
I'm not. I am getting this little squirmy feeling in my stomach as I sit down to write this, because this is a topic that I am really passionate about but also semi-terrified to talk about.
Because body acceptance is REALLY. FREAKIN. HARD!!!
In fact, I don't think I have met a single person that is completely at peace with their bodies. Body acceptance, body positivity, self-love, and acceptance are probably some of the most requested topics that I get for the podcast and from my clients.
Why are we so transfixed on our appearance and how our bodies measure up to unrealistic and doctored images that the world around us says that we should try to emulate? I wish I had the answer because I have been known to fall into that trap pretty hard.
As much as I wish I could say I was exempt from the culture of body comparison and self-loathing, I'm not. I wish I could tell you that I have the magic key that unlocks the secret of body acceptance. But I don't. In fact, my battle with my body and my appearance is one of the main reasons that I started to meditate and started on my yoga journey.
By the time I hit college I was obsessed with my body, weight, and appearance. My life had recently changed, I was now in college living away from home, I no longer had the title 'athlete' as my persona after stepping away from college softball after my first year, and I had found myself hanging around a group of girls that were not the kind of people that I wanted to surround myself with, and we eventually had a falling out that left me feeling raw, unaccepted, and unlikeable.
So, I started to focus on what I could control and change and that was my body. I began working out all the time, trying to eat clean and force my body to be a size and shape that, because of genetics and composition, it probably wasn't meant to be.
And do you know what the sad part was? I was not alone.
I saw so many women at the gym and in the caf doing the exact same thing that I was. In fact, they were everywhere! I saw the same invisible force telling all of these other women that they should look and feel a certain way and driving them to obsess over their appearance and at it made me feel really sad.
Why did everyone, including myself, feel like we weren't enough?
What was so bad about our bodies that we needed to change them so drastically?
I realized that I was not going down a a path I wanted to be on anymore and I reached out for help. I did a lot of research, and I dove deep into myself and I felt this call to try yoga again. I saw that my local studio was offering a 30 day membership for students for the month of January as a 'reset' and I decided I was going to do it. I was going to practice yoga everyday for 30 days, and I did. Sometimes I went more than once a day.
At first, I fell into my old habits of only going to the classes that felt like a 'workout' like power yoga, or advanced classes, but somedays if I was going to make my 30 days in a row mark, I had to try new classes like restorative, yin, and gentle flow. Which, seemed like a total waste of time because if I'm not burning calories what's the point, right?
Once I started to go to those classes that I once avoided because that I didn't know what they were or because they seemed easy or less taxing on the body, I was truly changed. Sure, I hated them at first, but once I let my walls down and actually tried doing what the instructors told me to do, the magic happened.
I started to see how powerful and strong my body and mind were. I began to open up this part of me that was loving, accepting, and soft. I started to practice my yoga not as a way to change my body and morph it into a specific size or shape, but to celebrate my body and move how I wanted to move and feel the way I wanted to feel.
I learned how to honor my body, instead of trashing it.
Once that month was over, I was hooked. I started doing my own home-practice each day in my dorm room and I read books, and listened to audios, and watched videos, and every once and a while I splurged and went to the community classes that were just $8.
And I never looked back.
So what changed?
I believe that the biggest change in me was that I learned how to listen to my body and honor it. No longer was my body something that I was always fighting and trying to manipulate, but something that I should be grateful for and honor, and celebrate.
I started focusing less on how I looked and more on how I felt. I noticed the changes in my body's mobility. I had less pain, I was in a better mood, I felt strong and open on my mat and that bled out into my life outside of the mat, and I was just grateful for life.
I was grateful to have a whole body that could practice yoga everyday, and move for me. I was grateful for my health, I was grateful for my life.
That's what changed. And it is still a struggle, nearly everyday I find myself looking in the mirror or catching glimpse of myself and thinking something negative and self-deprecating, but I can now recognize it, and bring myself back to gratitude. I look in the mirror and at first I may say "OMG Kelly! Look you're starting to get wrinkles! You're soooo old!!!" But then I can change the narrative and say "yeah, I am getting older and I am so grateful that I have lived long enough to begin to wrinkle!"
So I wanted to share the exact meditation that I use when I feel those old habits and that little voice saying 'you're not enough' creeping in. It's a body acceptance meditation where you go through the parts of your body and you are grateful for their existence and thank them.
It might seem silly or small, but trust me it is powerful!
I hope that for those of you, and I know there are a lot of you, who are like me and have struggled or are currently struggling with accepting your body you can use this meditation as a way to quite that voice in your head, and stop spending so much time trying to fight your body and start spending time honoring your body and slowly, but surely, chipping away those ideas that we have in our heads that 'we aren't what we should be' and begin to stand in our own light and shine.
My deepest love and gratitude, Kelly
Check out the full meditation HERE