Honoring our bodies as our temples.
It's thrown around often enough, this message that our bodies are our temples. It's easy enough to hear this message and agree with it, or to believe it and know it on a conceptual level, or to be kind to ourselves in the moment and then numb out again. But to experience the depths of its meaning and truly live in honor of it, as truth, is another story, at least for me. It only really landed in me earlier today, the depth of what this means, or rather, the depth of potential that resides in this truth - my physical body is the temple that my soul chose to inhabit in this lifetime.
Bam! There it is - my body is my soul's temple. What to do with that new awareness? My soul chose this exact body as the perfect vessel to accomplish what it came here to accomplish, to fulfill its purpose, to achieve its highest potential. Wow! Who am I to argue with my soul? I mean, don't get me wrong, I've argued with my soul plenty, thinking she doesn't know what she's gotten herself into. But I always come around in the end because I know she knows, and she knows much better than my little ego can even begin to comprehend. So if she chose this body, how can I complain? How can I abuse it, dishonor it, not treat it as holy? In addition, how can I deny it its pleasures, its indulgences, its joy? I don't even know the answers to these questions yet because I haven't had the chance to ponder them since having this revelation about my body and what it means to my deepest Self.
This awareness, the deeper landing of this truth, was prompted, in part, by this poem I stumbled upon yesterday...
The message in the poem hit me hard, as I've been obsessing over mild, yet chronic holding and tension in my back that always seems to be there. I've approached the tension in so many different ways, trying to release whatever belief, story, wound is being held, hating and condemning the way it creates this underlying experience of tension and stiffness in my body, trying to stretch it, twist it, massage it away, adjust it out with the chiropractor. Nothing seems to give and my frustration remains, and I condemn my whole body for it, like something is wrong with it because it won't relax and release and be soft and mushy like I want it to be. Why, body?! Why?!
As I read this poem, it sank in - Can't I just love my body like it is? And even more, can't I honor it for the temple it is, and for all of the amazing things it does for me? In all of my obsessing over this one way that I feel held back by my body, I'm missing all of the amazing ways that it allows me to live and play and experience the world. It's so strong and flexible and soft and supple. Of course it could be more of this or less of that, isn't that the culture we live in - what we have is never good enough. Gosh, isn't that all I've been longing for a wanting from the world around me, on a mental and emotional level - to be loved exactly like this, as exactly who I am? I mean, I work with the body, that's my profession, that's my calling, my gift. I read people's bodies, I obsessively read my own body, and this whole message completely escaped me. Can't I put the magnifying glass down, stop trying to "figure out" what I'm labeling as "wrong" with my body and simply love it?
Could you just love me like this?
What a beautiful, vulnerable, sensual, tender question.
Could you just love me like this?
When my answer is yes, my body becomes luscious and soft. The tension disappears, as if it never existed. The taut container that I've been trying to deconstruct one wounded belief at a time melts into the ethers and I'm left with the mushy, malleable form that is my cellular temple. And my worries dissipate with that taut container, the taut container that is constantly trying to "hold it all together", as if my body would lose it's shape if my fascia weren't on high-alert all day every day. What a profound moment this was for me, to say "YES!" to loving my body like it is.
Over the years I've gone through the motions of loving my body "just the way it is." Of making peace with some perceived imperfection that only I see. That's all well and good, it's one thing to accept our body as it is, it's a whole other thing to love it, to actively and purposefully love it and bless it and shower it with adoration. To celebrate it and affirm its perfectly imperfect perfection. That's an experience of joyful living that has taken on a whole new meaning for me.
I see multiple clients a week, working with their bodies to provide relief, relaxation, a new experience. Of course they have complaints and they want me to focus on their "problem areas", that is the purpose of massage, at least for the general population. In massage school we were taught, ever so briefly, to be willing to see the health in the body, not just the discomfort/pain/tension, and to help our clients see that too. With that in mind, I have a question on my client intake form asking what is strong or healthy in their body. More often than not, clients are stumped by that question. Some people simply do not answer it, others will tell me they didn't understand the question. How interesting is that, to not understand the question? I proceed to explain the question to them - let's find something in your body that feels good, that works how you want it to work, that you use every day and you can appreciate and be grateful for, that it serves you well and feels strong and healthy. Even when I explain it, it still doesn't fully make sense to them, they're still a little confused about why I would ask about that. People don't get it. We live in a culture where you complain about what is wrong and you try to fix it as quickly and easily as possible. It makes sense to talk about the problems that need fixing, but it doesn't make sense to focus our attention on what is strong and healthy. What if we did? What if we focused on the health, with the intention to magnify its presence and allow it to take over our being? Who's to say that wouldn't work wonders?
"Where the attention goes, energy flows."
Well, I think I want to start sending my energy into the love I feel for my body. It is poignant and timely that, at the same time as this revelation hits, I decided to start anointing myself with scented oil before bed at night - to treat myself as the Goddess I am. What am I waiting for? This body, this woman, this beautiful manifestation of perfect human imperfection deserves to be slathered with beautifully scented oil and loved to her dying day. No need to wait for the rest of the world to realize this, now that I realize it I can worship my own temple.