Recently a dear friend asked me to do a month long gratitude challenge where at the end of each day we text each other 3 things we're grateful for. After a few days of this it occurred to me that I hadn’t shown any appreciation for my body at all. As a healthy person who has earned a living through dance and now Pilates, you’d think I’d be grateful every day for my body…but instead, like most healthy people, I take it for granted. I expect a lot from it and rarely pause to give it much thanks in return.
I’m ashamed to admit that appreciation for my body does not always come with a lot of genuine enthusiasm. Sometimes I get too concerned about what I can’t do, how uncomfortable I feel, and how much better I should look and feel in my body. Do you ever find yourself in this downward spiral of thought?
As long as we remain focused on perceived physical limitations and shortcomings, how will our bodies ever be good enough? How can we expect our bodies to keep showing up for us when we have a tendency to talk shit about it?
This sort of negative mindset trap reminds me of what meditation teacher Tara Brach refers to as the “trance of unworthiness.” I realize that if I don’t start showing my body appreciation then it will always be a source of discomfort, and I’ll accept that discomfort is what I deserve. The way to break out of this trance is shower the body with thanks, ASAP.
I actually believe that the body is not a problem to be solved. It is not a burden or a curse. It is not something that needs to be checked off a to-do list, and happiness can not be on pause until whatever needs fixing gets fixed.
The body is a gift, and a healthy one is a privilege. The body is a portal for giving and receiving love, a vessel for our work, a vehicle for soulful expression. The body is a miracle and should be treated as such!
There is a fine line between challenging the body (woo!) and punishing it (woof)... and it’s harder to feel happy and satisfied when we lean toward the later. The way to feel strong, confident, beautiful, healthy, and fit starts with a gratitude mindset. This mindset includes the ability to give ourselves credit for hard work, to see the positive in ourselves, and give thanks and kindness to the body - especially if we’re asking it to serve us and perform in a way that sparks joy.
Here are a couple of mindset exercises to put this in practice:
Body Scan Meditation
Mirror Body Scan