Christiane Northrup, M.D.
What is your experience of your body? How do you perceive your body in relationship to your experience of yourself as a total person? For some of us the body may be the only part of ourselves we clearly identify with. For others of us, the body is just a vehicle to carry around our brains. Perhaps you experience your body as a cluster of cravings always seeking to be satisfied. Most of us have some feelings that our bodies are too fat or too thin, too tall or too short. It is a rare and lucky person who feels satisfied that their body is just right.
Dualistic philosophies have sometimes taught us to reject the body as base and separate from the spirit. When we believe the body is evil, we naturally cut ourselves off from it. We disidentify with the corporeal. This becomes a problem, because that which we shut off from consciousness we no longer control. We become the victims of our physical urges. When the body is rejected we no longer have the power to direct its energies organically. Instead we either give in to our cravings and feel bad about it, or we try to control our urges with force.
For instance, if something angers us, our body gives us a feeling. We can respond to the feeling by acting out in aggression, or we can constrict our breath, tighten our guts and shut off the feeling. The first option is bad for our reputation. The second is bad for our intestines.
When we are aware of our bodies and in touch with our feelings, we are more in control of our responses. We are less victimized by our feelings, less likely to act out impulsively.
We encourage you to explore your feelings and beliefs about your body and to develop a greater sense of wholeness in your sense of your body, mind and spirit.
Scan: Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. As you do this, scan your body. Move your awareness systematically from one part of your body to the next. What sensations do you become aware of? Where do you feel comfort? Where do you feel tension or pain? Where do you feel nothing? Make a mental note of these areas and move on until you have scanned your entire body. Look again at where you keep your tension and pain. Feel how your energy is blocked in those areas. Direct the energy of your breath to those areas. Tell yourself that those areas are relaxed. Yield to the desire to give up your tension. Visualize a light shining from your heart onto the uncomfortable parts. Allow those parts to reconnect with your heart. Similarly, in the areas of your body where you felt nothing, shine the light of awareness. Fill the area with light. Bring the whole together.
Inventory: If your circumstances permit, stand in front of a full length mirror. Take a careful inventory of all your body parts. Start at your toes and work your way up to the top of your head. Look at each part of your body and examine your opinion of it. For instance: "My toes are _________. I like (or don't like) how they ________."
What emotions arise in you as you evaluate your body parts? What parts of your body are you most pleased with, and which are you less comfortable with. Is there anything you wish to do to feel more comfortable with your various parts? Can you become more accepting of your body?
Remind yourself that this is a real body, not somebody's fantasy of what an ideal body should look like. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
Thank your body for what it does for you. Thank each part individually. Thank your body as a whole.
© 2002 Tom Barrett