Ritual: Heal Body Shame, Heal the World.
Growing up, I had a tumultuous relationship with the girl in the mirror.
On the one hand, I was fascinated by her, finding her intriguing and beautiful. But in other moments – too many moments – I deemed her body not thin enough, her face not desirable enough, and her overall being just not “good enough” to receive the love I craved. I wish I could tell you that these harsh judgments were mere side effects of adolescent hormones, but sadly, they ran much deeper. This relationship continued well beyond my tumultuous teenage years, and into my “awakening” years of spiritual seeking and devotional practices.
I knew something needed to change.
So with eyes wide open, I began to recognize the source of my discontent with my body and self-image, and felt the deep necessity of healing this wound within me so that I could offer my body – my temple, my home – the reverence and adoration it deserved. But how?
I began to study the power of my beliefs, and noticed how they affected my self-perception and insight about the world around me. I could see that my harsh self-judgments reverberated in every corner of my existence and reality, and without fail, attracted difficult challenges into my life. I desperately wanted to free myself from the trap of constant critique, but the illusion and temptation to compare myself to the “perfect woman” was strong, and at times overbearing. After all, everywhere I turned, my sisters were (either consciously or unconsciously) battling the same illusion about themselves.
Learning how to honor my body and take care of my appearance without buying into the myth of a woman’s value being in how she looks was tricky to say the least. And in the process of finding this balance, I would waver between self-neglect and self-obsession. It took a change in perspective, and the courage to take accountability, to authentically start to love my body.
If we look at the current energetics of our world, we can clearly see that masculine and feminine polarities are out of balance, which has led to the devaluing of feminine qualities in most cultures. I have known this for many years, but the change in perspective I needed came when I stopped placing blame on men. This imbalance in our world is far deeper than the “battle of the sexes,” “man oppresses woman,” “man objectifies the female form” scenario. This energetic imbalance is the root cause of these scenarios, and it inflicts harm on men as well, but to a polar effect. It is something that affects the entire human race – a global wound, so to speak.
This imbalance can be clearly seen in the media, and it influences the way both men and women relate to each other, their sexuality, and to their bodies. With these damaging messages so prevalent, how do we rise above the pressure to engage with our bodies in damaging ways?
It took me recognizing that the only way to transform it is to assume responsibility for playing my part in the devaluing of the feminine in our world- as I had actively participated in the devaluing of myself, my emotions, my intuition, my unique shape and appearance.
If we view ourselves as spiritual beings living in a body, then we must believe that our body is our temple, our home, and what allows us to live and evolve here on Earth.
Throughout our lives, we develop a relationship with our body temple. If our relationship has been one of criticism and judgment, then most likely there are hard feelings needing to be transmuted. Before we can live beyond the paradigm of self-criticism and body shame, we must assume responsibility, and actively seek our body’s forgiveness for the cruel thoughts, deeds, and in many cases, harsh actions. Once we do this we are able to live in deeper harmony and enjoyment with our bodies and with ourselves despite the temptations to “be better.” We can then become role models for a new way – representatives of a true type of beauty – that is exemplified thought the radiance of self-love and love for all. Little by little, we change the world. We usher in a new reality for the generations to come.
The most powerful revolution is self-love, which requires radical self-accountability, compassion, and forgiveness.
Here is a ritual I have used for years to aid me through the process of learning to love my body. I use it in times where temptation is strong and my thoughts have weakened towards comparison and self-judgment.
You can do this ritual in the bath with flowers and candles, or anywhere relaxing, private, and sacred for you.
1. Breathe and feel your body. Allow yourself to breathe into different parts of your body – particularly parts that you have judged and allow yourself to feel whatever sensations may be present there.
2. The first step is to take compassionate responsibility for the negative thoughts, judgments, and in some cases the abuses we have inflicted upon are bodies. I suggest stating out loud:
“With compassion for myself for living in a world that is still learning how to honor the feminine form, I take responsibility for the harsh thoughts and actions I have inflicted upon my beautiful and sacred body.”
3. Place your hands on different parts of your body, and as you lovingly touch these parts ask for forgiveness by saying the ho’ ponopono prayer
“I’m sorry, please forgive me, I love you, thank you.”
4. When you’ve completed this, allow yourself to feel gratitude for your temple. You can say:
“I am forever grateful to live in such a beautiful temple. My body is sacred, and I honor it with nourishing thoughts, foods, and play. I love who I am, and I am grateful for being exactly as I am.”
True self-love takes some de-programming. We have been taught to be harsh to ourselves in many cases. Humbly honoring your body as a sacred home, rather than as a mere tool for getting us what we want, is an important step to living an inspired and radiantly happy life.
There is nothing more gorgeous than a woman who loves herself, honors her body, and has forgiven herself for any judgments, harsh thoughts, or harmful actions her insecurities or self-doubts may have caused her to take. When a woman lives in compassion for herself, she more readily lives as a compassionate and wise light in service of humanity.
This woman is my hero.
This woman is healing the world.
This woman is who I want to be.
Lauren Elizabeth Walsh is founder and Co- Director of Unify Global Sisterhood
Want to engage in the conversation? Join the Global Sisterhood Facebook Group or visit www.women.unify.org to discuss this month’s theme and many others, as women all over the world are transforming themselves and world though sacred sisterhood.