What is it that enables us to meet challenges gracefully? How can we take an obstacle, a real or perceived obstacle, and welcome it into our lives as part of the wholeness of living, rather than immediately trying to eliminate it? And how can we use that skill to cultivate more love towards our bodies and ourselves?
In the style of yoga that I teach, the first step in any pose is "open to grace". What does that mean? It means that before you engage your muscles, before you move, before you attempt to make any kind of shape with your body, you pause. You feel your body breathing itself and you notice the soft expansion of your whole inner body as it welcomes a breath, as the life force that keeps you breathing without your control, continues to pulsate within you. And you take a moment to honor that and to let it infuse your being. Some folks think of it as opening to a higher power or divine energy. It doesn't have to be specific or tied into your faith, but it can be. The point is, you approach your pose (e.g., your creation, your next step in life) with that sense of expansion and aliveness and openness and with the support of something that is bigger than you.
What does this have to do with loving your body? Well, when we pause, any time we pause, it is an invitation to experience what is happening in our bodies in the present moment, without judgment. It is an opportunity to adopt an attitude of welcoming, to free ourselves from the dualistic approach of moving towards pleasure and away from suffering. In other words, we're not trying to stomp out the bad feelings, the negative circumstances, the perceived obstacles. They are there to offer us information, guidance and direction. When we realize this, we are no longer at odds with ourselves.
Whatever the current physical state of our bodies, we allow it. We simply allow it. That doesn't mean you have to want that to be how it is forever and ever. That doesn't mean you're saying no to change and transformation and healing. It simply means, allow. This is how it is now. Allow. And appreciate. And in that allowing and appreciating, you automatically make space for and create the circumstance in which change can arise. Without the opening, the welcoming, the allowing, there is no space. There is only resistance.
The next time you meet an obstacle, whether it is a negative thought about your body, a sensation of discomfort in your body, a difficult interaction with someone else that is tied in to your feelings about your body, whatever it is, pause. Feel your body softly expand with your breath. Feel your breath infuse your body with the grace of welcoming and allow the obstacle to be there, as it is. It may dissolve simply by allowing it. Or you may simply soften around it and enable yourself to meet it gracefully, seeing it as a messenger rather than as an enemy to be defeated.
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