It seems as though in our culture, image is everything. We are conditioned to reject other people as well as ourselves when we don’t live up to the unrealistic standards imposed by mass media. We forget that the intention behind most marketing campaigns is to sell us products or procedures that we don’t really need. When a company can make us believe that we’re not okay as we are, they also wield the power to sell us merchandise as a remedy for our self consciousness. Very little attention is placed on promoting the natural health of the physical body in the media, and even less attention is given to the health of our inner world – the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects that make up an invisible yet very real aspect of our being. When given the choice, many people would rather be thin than healthy. I was once trapped in this misconception, as many twenty-somethings are.
In 2006 I was very depressed. There were many factors, the most prominent one being an unfulfilling work life. At the time, the only bright side of being depressed all of the time was that I began to lose some extra weight. Although I really wanted to heal my depression and get better mentally and emotionally, the one thing holding me back was the fear of gaining the weight back. Eventually though, the health of my physical body became threatened, and I realized that if I continued on that path, that I would get very sick or even die.
To make a very long story short, when I realized that my life was threatened I became so terrified that I forced myself to make changes. I went to the doctor and although I refused her recommendation of anti-depressant medication, I did agree to begin psychotherapy sessions. In addition, I began journaling and reading mass quantities of spiritual and self-help books (I highly recommend the very first book I read during this time, “You Can Heal Your Life” by Louise Hay, as it guided me through the first few months of my healing process).
I now credit this point in my life as being the single most important experience I’ve ever gone through, as it reminded me of the true identity of myself beyond my physical body. Eventually I did gain a small amount of the weight back, but I’m healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally than I ever have been before. This healing process caused a shift in my focus from self consciousness to health consciousness.
The shift from self consciousness to health consciousness occurred when I realized that I am more than I appear to be on the external level. The reality of who I truly am exists beyond the appearance of my physical form. I now think of my body in the same way that I think of my car. I move around in my car, it gets me where I need to go, and sometimes I take it on a trip in order to enjoy myself and experience something new. But I always remember that I am not my car; I HAVE a car. Similarly, I am not my body; I HAVE a body.
When you recognize that you are not your body, you awaken to the miracle of what the body truly is. Your body is the instrument you use while you’re on the planet in order to evolve in consciousness, express your unique capabilities via your life purpose, and experience the joy of Life from your unique, one of a kind perspective. As you begin to become aware that your body as the only tool available in this lifetime that allows you to fulfill these intentions, you also begin to treat it with honor, gentleness, kindness, and respect. The health of your body becomes #1 on your priority list, even more of a priority than it’s physical appearance. Ironically, as you begin to focus on increasing the level of health within your body and less on how it looks, you will find yourself looking better than you ever have before.
You will also recognize that your body is a unique expression of diversity. You are not meant to look like everybody else or have the same shape, but rather you are meant to look different. If you can recognize this truth and accept it, you’ll release your self consciousness and no longer be a slave to the media because you will release the need to compete or compare yourself to other people. Loving and accepting your body is even more important than eating well and exercising because your thoughts affect your cells in a more profound way than any amount of external action does. When you love yourself, the external action will happen naturally.
I don’t spend much energy trying to be thin anymore, although a slender body is a natural result of my priorities. I value my health and I love making healthy food and staying active. I’ve released my old addictions to sugar and soda. But I don’t do any of these things improve my looks, I do them because I now recognize that my physical body as a gift.
Your unique gifts and talents are needed on the planet, and your body is the only vehicle you’ll receive that will allow you to deliver them. Take time to honor and recognize the miracle that is your physical body. If you can learn to love your body, you can begin to heal your life.