Monday, May 26, 2008

Hung Up

On Saturday morning, I attended another Hidden Language Yoga class with the ladies. I had been looking forward to it with great anticipation, because the last time was such an intense and positive experience for me. I couldn't wait to get my butt back in there. The last time, I was overwhelmed by how connected I felt. For perhaps the first time ever in a yoga class, I felt completely comfortable in my own skin. I was able shut off my mind from external distractions and control my thoughts in a way that I had never experienced before.

This time, for whatever reason, I could not connect. I felt awkward and uncomfortable. I was extremely conscious of the pain in my knee and down my back as I moved through the postures. I found my mind wandering away from what I was supposed to be focusing on, and instead getting clouded up with feelings of dissatisfaction with my appearance. I started to feel anxiety about my body parts. As the class went on, the words I wrote down and the thoughts in my head became centered around shame over my flaws, real or imagined. This aroused a self-consciousness that I just couldn't shake until we were doing the final relaxation phase of the class, and I was able to cover myself up with a blanket.

Photo: R054 on Flickr

Body image is something that I have ferociously struggled with for as long as I can remember. I've blogged about it so much that I'm sure I sound like a broken record. I've allowed my body to be the target of some of my harshest judgements and at times, the barometer by which I measure my self worth. I wish I didn't do this. I wish that at 26 years old, I wasn't still hung up on this. I am well aware that my body does not define me, and shouldn't.

I know that the important things are who and how we love, why we believe what we do, what we give credence to, a recognition of our inner talents and joys, our spiritual values, our philanthropy, or anything else other than how we look to others. As much as I pray that it did, even knowing this doesn't stop me from wishing that my face wasn't so full or that I had a flatter stomach, smaller boobs or thinner thighs; but I can't allow these distractions to be my focus or to hold me back from honing in on what's actually important.

Photo: Keira-Anne on Flickr

Over the last little while, I've really developed the good sense to aspire to have a fresh and inquiring mind, body, spirit and soul. I have wonderful friends around me whose positive energy and souls light up my world and inspire me constantly. I want to live a well rounded life. I need to allow my body some room to breathe; to be what it is. I want to thank it for serving me well, for walking, running, stretching, all of it. I want to thank it for being healthy and able and putting up with my ingratitude for all these years. This is where I get off the self-hating diet wheel. This is where I stop offending my body. Stop the ungratefulness. Stop the ingratitude. When I look in the mirror, I want to look and love. Look and SEE.


Melissa and Chris said...

We touched on this a bit at dinner last week and I love the line you wrote in this post: "Look and SEE". I think we're all critical, even if it's in the tiniest way...and it's really sad. We need to concentrate on the positives and realize there's no such thing as perfection.
FYI: You're a gorgeous babe!

Keira-Anne said...

I second that: you are a gorgeous babe. Those that are around you can see it, but unfortunately, we all tend to be our own worst critic.

I think you're moving in the right direction with your train of thought. It's time to start loving and pampering your body. I had a really ritualistic experience last night that might do you some good.

I drew a hot bath, used epsom salts and essential oils (courtesy of a very special lady friend) and filled the apartment with the sounds of the ocean and whales. As I soaked, I had a glass of room temperature water so that as I immersed in water, I also filled my body with the same kind of nourishment.

It's a small way in which you can love your body, and as you're doing it (or any other thing to honour your temple), try to remain aware of how you're nourishing yourself. It will help you get in touch with the real and beautiful Jennifer that you are at your core.

Barbara Doduk said...

I think we all go through this, men and women alike. We are indeed our worst enemy. That nagging self doubt in our head, always there, specially at the worst times.

But one day hopefully we'll all find contentment with the shell we live within.

Frankly I think you look fabulous.

Jen (MahaloFashion) said...

I've always wanted to do yoga but I've been scared of starting out you know cause you don't know what your doing.
I'm sorry to hear you didn't have a good time the last time you went...

Phaedra said...

You are gorgeous, and wonderful, and styliast, and, and, and...! I too have struggled with disordered body image over half my life. It's only now I am talking about it openly, which I sense takes away it's power and allows me to 'let go' of it when I share with others who I know won't judge. Some days are better than others for me, and that comes with the territory. I'm proud of you for writing about this difficult subject!

It took us a long time to get here babe, and it will take some time to lessen the load. Know you are not alone, and that you are supported and loved.

Jennifer Stoddart said...

Thank you all for your beautiful comments and your words of support. I am overwhelmed.

Roshan said...

I'm joining in with all the others and adding my bit - you r simple gorgeous. Beautiful, precious, sweet, and plus I think u r beautiful on the inside too. Which makes you doubly special!!