Being kind to ourselves is something that most people need to work on. For me, it’s always been extremely critical to keep a healthy working relationship with my mind and body, because the synchronicity of the physical and mental is astounding. When the body feels bad, the mind responds appropriately. For many women, myself included, we have lived our whole lives subject to the male gaze and under the thumb of advertising companies. Beauty magazines, diet fads, and wounding comments from our peers, both female and male, are internalized by our psyche.
I’ll never forget my first negative realization of my feminine form, when, in the 7th grade, one my male friends told me I was fat. Until that point, I didn’t have that kind of understanding of the fleshy form that my soul moved through life within. But that day, that moment, those words have never gone away. Ever. My adolescent mind played ugly tricks on me and I began to look into the mirror and see what was wrong with me, not what was so perfectly imperfect and beautiful. I began to devour hateful rhetoric against the feminine form, reading magazines like Cosmo and Vogue. I compared myself ceaselessly to others, and my self-satisfaction and esteem suffered as a result of the hate I ingested into my body. Because my mind corresponded so intuitively with my body, somewhere in that vicious cycle, I drew that energy into my bones, my tissue and my cells.
Unlearning all of this is a process–one that I work on thoughtfully almost every single day. A delicate balance of health and wellness must be kept, and if my body is feeling good, my mind feels the same. Healthy eating, exercise and meditation are the tools I use to keep the peace with myself.
Today, I woke up with sore muscles from yesterday’s yoga class. I got up, dressed in the stretchiest clothes available and walked to a Bar Method class. My muscles trembled and my legs shook like there was an earthquake taking place in my body as we pulsed through pliés and relevés, ab curls and arm weights. After class, I could hardly walk down the stairs, and I smiled knowing that I am going to hurt so good for the next 3 days… Honestly, if I can walk tomorrow, it will be an absolute miracle.
But I am grateful—so grateful—for that stiff, sore, achy feeling in my fatigued muscles because it’s a reminder of the hard work that goes into the process of unlearning, which I need to maintain a healthy balance between my body and mind. This year, in particular, I’ve committed to slowly and mindfully breaking down all the barriers to Self-love that were the direct result of various adolesccent traumas. Little by little, I am peeling back the layers of self-dissatisfaction that have built up throughout the infinite lifetime of my soul, and especially in this lifetime, where my poor mind and body have taken a significant bullying from society and, admittedly, from myself.
My soul, however, is more transcendental, and has taken this healing quest upon itself in order to learn some valuable lessons. I’ve learned that comparison is perhaps one of the most useless forms of self-disparagement. Each and every one of us has our own set of trials and triumphs, strengths and weaknesses. It’s more productive to work with each other, than to constantly strive to be like someone else. Our uniqueness is what makes for a more healthy social order.
I’ve also learned that self-awareness is a practice. It’s not something that you achieve, but something that you constantly work towards maintaining. It’s perfectly normal to forget how good you felt after yesterday’s run or the hour-long meditation you did. Life is constantly changing and throwing new situations at us. We have to roll with the punches, because the punches are what makes life a fun and challenging learning experience. Through constant self check-ins, we can help up keep the fine balance of mind, body and spirit.
Thus today, I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and will inevitably continue to learn. I am also grateful to my body and mind, and for the balance that I have cultivated through exercise and healthy eating in the last two days. (I’ll have to remember to be extra thankful tomorrow when I try to get out of bed and my glutes, traps, biceps, abs, calves, and thighs scream like the chorus of a Slayer song.) And, of course, I am infinitely grateful to my inner guide and closest companion, my spirit.