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who loves ya, baby?

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While working with a sacro cranial massage therapist to address the soft-tissue trauma resulting from my recent bicycle accident, I’ve once more become aware of the separation between mind and body. That is, whatever I consider as “me” resides in what I’ll call my mind (a.k.a. brain, thoughts, imagination). My body is something else altogether: it’s there, something to schlep around, a precarious construction of skin and bones and arteries and nerves, etc. Over the years this sense of separateness has grown to the point that “I don’t like” my physical me, that I prefer not to feel (or own) certain parts of me. 

bellyDigging a little deeper, I meet that old nemesis, the Inner Critic. They say that it’s merely a voice,  but a powerful one! It informs me in its uppity ways of my shortcomings, ineptitude, lack of grace, etc. I rarely question its opinions. And certainly don’t stand up to, instead taking its pronouncements as fact. Take for instance the change in my body shape. Over the last ten years I’ve gained weight and added inches to my waist line. Looking at myself in a mirror (or a passing store window) is no longer a pleasant experience. Aarrgghhh! says the Critic, you’re overweight, old, unattractive. I roll over and agree–even suck in my belly when meeting someone female, but not when seeing a male. What’s with that?

ram dassThe interesting things is that when I think of people I admire, the last thing I’m concerned with is their body shape. If, for instance, you’d ask me to describe Ram Dass (who I admire deeply), I’d mention direct eye contact, white fluffy hair, a big heart, lack of pretence, easily shows his emotions, huge smile, takes his time to answer questions, admits when he doesn’t know. Those are some of the qualities I admire in him … and wish to posses myself. It never even occurs to me to criticise Ram Dass for his body, the lines in his face, the shake of his hands, the stuttering caused by a stroke.

peter_renner_2In short: I tend to judge my own worth on appearance and that of others on their humanity. Digging deeper yet, I confess that I don’t “care” for myself the way I aim to care for others. Others deserve my caring attention “as they are,” while I’m flawed and “need work” to fix what’s wrong.

Sounds familiar?

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6 responses »

  1. pretty honest, peter….we all share similar feelings… ..i don’t like my expanding waistline either…how to come to terms with it?

    Reply
    • “To accept what is” comes to mind. For me it’ll mean to learn to direct loving kindness (metta) towards myself with the same generosity with which I give to others.

      Reply
    • To nurture, nurturing myself…..has come into my awareness lately and looking for ways i can do this for myself. As well, being nurtured by others, even in little ways like being offered a cushion for my feet during meditation make a huge impact in my life…being offered a cup of tea in the middle of the night in an emergency room….all these little acts of kindness are deeply felt inside me.
      I’m interested in hearing what others have to say about nurturing ourselves.

      Reply
  2. I understand exactly what you have described in this entry. It mirrors the struggle many of our generation (Baby Boomers) are engaged in right now. I hate the gray that is taking over my long hair, the physical problems that are invading my body, and the fact I just don’t have the stamina I used to have.

    Since I draw my spiritual philosophies from all sources, I remind myself that the Bible states you are “to love your neighbor as yourself” which says to me that I am valuable and loveable no matter the circumstances I find myself in. Now if I can just practice that belief!

    Reply
    • that IS the puzzle for me as well, beth: practicing what we believe. Buddhists have the “loving kindness” principle, akin to “loving your neighbour as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).

      It’s one thing to love neighbours (all of them, not just the nice ones) but what about loving oneself? Why is that so problematic?

      Reply
  3. Irene Monroe

    Yes, it does sound all too familiar……. the reflections offered around this are kindhearted and helpful. We are not our body, but it IS there and we are aware of it and deal with it on a daily basis.
    Acceptance gives me peace, but the critic in me doesn’t always get there.

    Reply

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