“For however long we’re on this planet, our bodies are where we live. They’re our original homes, the ones we carry with us wherever we go, from the womb to our deathbeds. Feeling connected to and at peace with them is crucial to feeling safe in the world.”
In this article I’d like to offer some thoughts and tips to help you be kind to your body, just as it is now.
This is the type of kindness many of us find very hard to express.
During the sessions with my clients, when this topic comes up, often they describe the experience of their body using words such as:
“I should be a different size.”
“I don’t really like what I see.”
“There are clothes in my wardrobe that don’t fit me. I wish one day they would fit again”.
“I don’t like my skin, my arms, and other parts of my body.”
“I know I haven’t been good at taking care of myself and that’s the result.”
When I ask “What would change in your life if you were to change your body?”, often I get this answer:
“Probably not much. Because I’ve been in a smaller size before and I could always find more reasons not to like my body anyway.”
“Maybe initially I’ll feel great but that would’t last long.”
My experience tells me that these are very common feeling, shared by many women all around the world, independently from their cultural background.
These feelings arise as a consequence of tyding up the change we’re seeking to wanting a different body, rather than creating a more comfortable and easier environment for the body to exist in its current shape and form..
In today’s article, my goal is to be practical and offer a brief practice to help support a shift toward body kindness, conscious of the fact that so many of us are in need of a break from being so harsh with ourselves and our body.
My hope is that what follows supports you in creating a sense of “feeling at home in your body” (just as it is now) and being more connected to its needs.
What do I mean with Body Kindness?
Rebecca Scritchfield in her book Body Kindness defines this type of kindness as:
“Practicing respect for yourself, your mental health, and your body as it is right now. And for anyone else’s body too.”
- Practicing body kindness is different from saying: “I love my body, as it is now”.
- It’s more about saying: “I know my body is good regardless of how it looks”.
She goes on to explain that as you nurture body kindness, what happens is that you can focus on making decisions on food, movement, sleep, connection to others, what you wear, what you do, based on how it makes you feel rather that how it will change your body.
I’ll add to this that it’s about getting to know what is good for you and your body only, not what’s good according to our weight-obsessed society or for someone else.
A way to explore your unique needs and tune in with the body’s natural wisdom, is getting into the habit of frequently asking yourself:
“What does my body is telling me right now?”
Also “What does my body needs to feel really comfortable?” and
“What am I no longer willing to compromise in the name of looking more attractive to others?”
Here are some of the answers that came up for me recently when I stopped to ask myself the above questions:
- Space to think.
- Fresh air and nature.
- Stretchy comfortable clothes that don’t squeeze my body.
- Letting my hair grow in its natural colour — which means no more dyes.
- Not having to wear make-up if I don’t feel like.
- Eating breakfast before starting my working day.
- Not pushing to reach a particular goal when I go out to exercise.
- Make Sunday a special day for myself and my family.
- Stretch my body when I get up and before going to bed.
- Not saying yes to every single request for socializing.
- A cup of herbal tea in the middle of the work day.
And many more.
What I’d like you to pay attention to is that the focus when practicing body kindness goes beyond the physical body to include your mental and emotional wellbeing.
It’s about steering away from “thinking about changing something in my body” or “dropping pounds” to discover alternative ways to cater for what your body needs, without the end goal of having to change anything in particular.
If right now you feel like you’re not taking good care of yourself, I invite you to ask yourself the questions above, and come up with your own list of things/actions/intentions that will support a change.
A guided practice + some journal prompts for you
As a means of supporting you with this kind of reflection, I recorded a guided practice.
The practice is an invitation to explore the body’s natural ability to talk to you and guide you towards what provides nourishment and balance and what doesn’t.
If this is all new to you, don’t worry.
Just allow yourself to sit to do this practice and be curious on what might come up for you.
You can access the recording here.
PLUS, below are two journal prompts to go along with this guided practice.
If you like, after you finished listening to the recording, take pen and paper or you favorite journal. In your own time, write down your ideas/reflections flowing from these prompts.
(REMEMBER: There aren’t right or wrong answers. Only you can know what’s best for you.)
1. If my body asked me to take care for it, what would it say to me right now?
Get into the details of what is really important to focus on right now.
Do you need to look at your sleep pattern? Has getting out to move your body been a struggle lately? Find what is true for you.
2. What kind words does my body need to hear right now?
You are the most important person to hold your hand with.
Challenge the negative voice inside telling you should look different or that you are not good enough.
Even when you had a rough day, a challenging week, you can come up with some kind words that feel true to you.
Write (or draw) whatever comes to your mind.
And that’s all from me today!
I’d love to hear your experience of this practice along with what you think helped you so far in your journey towards being kinder to your body.
If you’d like to share, just leave a commect here or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll be delighted to read you.
Always with kindness,
Thanks for reading!
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