Self image. The formal definition that I found is the idea one has of one's abilities, appearance, and personality. It’s a creation. It’s incredibly resistant to change. What we find to be true, what we believe the mirror is projecting back at us, the opinions of others that we have taken and accepted as true. What we say and see about ourselves makes up our self image. Our life experience. Which can and does include our culture and faith and societal standards, impact this view as well. Unfortunately, what we know to be true about our own bodies is so skewed. The things we say and think internally to ourselves, about ourselves, are often untrue. No matter how much our body might fit into societies standard of beautiful we still find fault. The ego can sure be a wicked thing when it checks in to talk to us about our bodies. What they look like, what they're capable of. We can quickly and with great ease list off ten plus faults we know to be true about our bodies.
How do we combat this? How do we release the pain. How do we stop ourselves from bullying the living crap out of ourselves? As people we rarely actually love ourselves. Rarely finding love for the one person we're constantly with, US. Me, myself and I. A speaker I once heard mentioned that we tolerate ourselves, but we simply don’t love ourselves. I suspect he's correct. At the end of each positive statement we add a big ol' but.... I know my body works hard for me but… I know my eyes are beautiful but… I think I'm smart but.....
The answer is simple yet it feels out of reach sometimes. We have to let be. Let be, the beliefs we have made about ourselves that tear us apart. We don’t have to let them go and forget they happened, but do let them be. A seated meditation practice and a yoga practice have been transformational. The ego no longer sits at the head of my table. The ego definitely talks, she's a real chatterbox that one. However, I am able to recognize when the words or feelings are coming from a place of love or not. Not always instantly, but with patience I see my monkey mind for what it is.If they hurt, the words I speak to myself, they probably aren’t from a divine loving place.
I had a teacher say that our bodies are simply vehicles, meat carriages actually, given the job of transporting a soul. I had to absorb that. Muscle and bone and skin all together to house my soul. We also talked about how our bodies carry us through life. They do all our work. They carry all the burden of this world. They’re absolutely incredible gifts and very, very capable. Once we stop and see ourselves as beautiful and capable we become a new person, or better yet renewed. The place within that is the manifestation of love shines brighter than the rest. There’s so much more on this subject than can be summarized.
Yoga is the journey of the self, to the self, through the self. We aren’t lost, we didn’t go missing. We’ve been ignored, by our own person. All the pieces that make up our whole not given attention. Our truest nature is love. Yoga and meditation reconnect us to this love. Where we no longer just tolerate ourselves. We see ourselves as divinely made and with great purpose. We see stretch marks for what they are, skin that got stretch. They aren’t ugly, they’re just there. Lines on our faces, from laughing and worrying. Scars from injury. Gorgeous eyes. Strong legs. The things that make us human and indicate living. We can live in a space where the critique takes center stage and are the topic of our concern, but that isn’t living, that isn’t purpose. It’s like looking into a dirty mirror. You can still see yourself but your focus will continually go to the mess. Clean it, remove that which does not serve you and then look at yourself. See you.
Yoga opens many people up to self portraits as well. And I find this to be phenomenal. It absolutely isn’t a vanity thing. It’s an acceptance thing. Yoga teaches you to love your body again. To see it like you did as a young child. When you perhaps felt like you could do anything. The poses have meaning and benefit. The poses are true. They heal our bodies and give direction and connection to the mind and heart. It’s beautiful and purposeful to see your body in this way. And as we develop a practice we start to accomplish things we didn’t know we could or just forgot that we could. Hell, we touch our toes for the first time and its such a surprise! Go upside down and gain perspective. And once we love ourselves, really love ourselves. Once we see our internal self on the outside then we see everyone else in the same way. We SEE them too. We can’t hate the other when we truly see them. We can’t hate ourselves when we truly see inside. So yoga, self image, self portraits, and heck - world healing, I think they go together seamlessly. Loving myself, loving yourself, loving all that connects us and seeing that it’s beautiful and purposeful. So take those selfies. When you feel hot, snap the proof. When you feel sad, heroic, brilliant, timid or braver than the bravest! When the stoic appears, creative, passionate, angry, broken, healed. All those words that describe life and you. Take the photo and feel beautiful in it.
I took these images in my dark basement. Didn’t do my hair except to clip up bangs. I didn’t do much makeup at all. I let the belly be. I let the wrinkles be. I have come to understand that perfect is a made up word. That my body is mine and mind only. I only get this one in this lifetime. My attachment to what should be is simply that, an attachment to an idea. And the idea is my egos. Well, it isn’t anymore. I have found that grace and grit make up my frame and personality and I’ve been designed for a purpose that isn’t my own. I am destined to be a servant in this life, and this is the body that will carry me through it. Right now it carries me like this, years from now or perhaps tomorrow it will carry me in a new way. I embrace these realities and the fragility of it. I must be kind to me. My concern has moved from the skin level to the heart level. And I love your body too, even if I haven’t seen it yet, I love it. I love you, I love me, I love we.