Personal Challenge 4 of 20
A thought came to me today while I was doing yoga (side note: I highly recommend the Yoga with Adrienne channel on Youtube. She's amazing!!! I'll leave a link to the specific video I was watching here). During the video she talks a little bit about respecting your body and makes a reference to the fact that it is the only one you've got and how important it is to work on your relationship with it. When she said this I got a sudden flash of the body as a separate entity and it made me sad.
I don't know how to describe these flashes. They are partially images, partially feelings and partially expressions. If I get a chance to draw something related to it I will add it somewhere on this blog, but no promises okay?
Anyway, in the flash there was a sense that so many people have such a hard time with body image. Maybe it is that cookie-cutter idea of what we "should" look like or be like (look at that the "should theme again :P ), but we don't always tend to treat our bodies with as much respect as they probably deserve. In this flash I was sitting separate from my body, it took on its own form and was that of a sad, sunken in looking child (the body was an adult but the spirit of it was child-like). It was looking at the ground as if ashamed of itself, grinding its toes into the floor. It sighed and held back tears as it spoke.
It's not really fair, it told me-- not whining, but commenting on the situation, I do everything you tell me to. I've taken so much abuse from all that you've put me through (climbing through windows, falling out of trees, playing sports with injuries, starving, being overly full, sitting still for hours, freezing, etc etc etc) and it's never enough for you. You don't like me, but what did I do? I can't help the way I was created? I was made this way and I've done my best to get you through this life. I just don't know what else to do to make you happy.
Huh, my non-body self said, I'd never thought about that. I guess it is a lot of pressure to put on you without any appreciation for what you've gone through.
And then it occurred to me that something could be gained by seeing the body as something separate from the self. The self seems fairly comfortable criticizing the things it feels it has dominion over.
What's wrong with you, body? it might say in not such literal terms, you're making me look bad. Why do you have to be this way?
And maybe because the self sees the body as part of itself it thinks its okay to be cruel.
You're disgusting. Why can't you be better? Why am I stuck with you? I hate you!!
There was a time in my life that I remember being so disgusted with my legs because they were too fat that I dreamed about taking a blade and literally carving out chunks of them. I'm not kidding, I used to cut and sometimes when I was focused on self-image more than what I perceived as my other failings I would run the blade over my thighs wishing I were "brave" enough to actually do it. Thankfully I didn't, but I remember the disgust I felt at myself for being the way I was and I remember feeling helpless, thinking that even if I did fix this one "problem" it wouldn't matter, there were too many others.
As I sat across from my non-attached body looking at its sad expression, the despair that I recognized in its eyes-- do you know what its like to loath yourself so much that it crushes you? I fear that many of you do-- Looking at that expression as a separate entity, the shitty-ness of all I had said to myself struck me. I think it might have been the first time I felt actual compassion towards some part of myself. I wanted to cry and hug the dejected form across from me and tell it I was sorry and I didn't mean any of it. Of course, that wouldn't have been true. I'd meant every word, but that was only because I hadn't seen myself as its own Self.
People talk about self-criticism and self-compassion, but what does this mean? It so quickly devolves into another list of "shoulds." This time I saw a separate being and I felt the effects of criticism and compassion and I realized that there was NOTHING wrong with the way that this creature in front of me had been formed. It had been with me from the beginning, it had stretched and grown. It had morphed into whatever I asked it to be. It allowed me to connect with the world around me; to feel the sun on my face, to hug my friends, to run and climb and fall and laugh and taste and BE! What a miraculous, loyal creature. Who else would go with me through all of that and still be here? Pushing itself so that I could experience another cool breeze, warm blanket, crisp sunrise...
Behind me my lovely white Pom Pig (see previous post) snorted. Dogs will follow you to the end of the earth and sacrifice themselves for you. They are amazing, beautiful creature. In that flash I saw that same energy in my body-self. The body had come with me on this journey to help me experience life in all its beauty and hideousness and it would stick with me, giving me all that it had until there was literally no more it could do. It would be here with me until every one of its organs stopped and it would fight to stay with me until the end. I would NEVER purposely harm one of my dogs. I would not tell them they were stupid and ugly and blame them for my misfortune (except jokingly when I've tripped over one of them and am reassuring and half-scolding them for walking under my feet). So why do that to my own life-long companion?
How cruel, to shame another creature for being itself.
Maybe there is a lesson here. An odd, kind of paradoxical one. I mean, sometimes we need to think of ourselves as part of something to experience compassion (part of the human or animal family) but maybe sometimes we also need to separate ourselves for the exact same experience.
If you have stayed with me through this whole post then thank you for sticking with me. I hope that this is helpful. It just kind of stunned me and I thought maybe it would someday be useful someone else too.
Wishing you love and compassion,