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Taking care of our body is not about shrinking ourselves, but instead is about accepting that our body is valuable now – just as it is - and that to be our best and most authentic selves we have to take care of our heart, mind, soul and body.

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Body Positivity and The Practice of Breathing

Aug 20, 2020

I consider myself a positive person. I definitely see the glass as being half-full. I err on the side of goodness, and I constantly want to encourage and uplift others.

But body-positivity drives me nuts.

It’s not that I dislike the idea – being positive about our bodies instead of constantly critiquing them is great and something I absolutely think we should be striving for every day. I want each human to love and value and respect their body just as it is, right now, today. I want us to feel at home and safe in our bodies. I want us to drop the shame and pressures of needing to look like anything or anyone else.

But the reality is, like anything else, being positive every moment about our physical bodies isn’t realistic.  And, from my experience, even if I want to start the day off totally in love with my body, some mornings that just doesn’t happen.

Maybe I ate a lot of salt the day before and I woke up uncomfortably bloated. Maybe I slept weird, and my shoulder is bothering me, and I just feel off. Or maybe I did a kick butt workout the day before and I am super sore, but still can’t see any new muscles or changes in my physical being.

For all of these reasons, and about a million more, feeling positive and enamored with my body, exactly as it is, each day, isn’t always possible.

And, to make those days that I am not feeling it even more frustrating, I experience an overwhelming sense of guilt that I am not feeling positive about my body in that moment, which tends to start a spiral process of feeling uncomfortable with myself and with the way I think about my body.

Blah. It is just too much some days.

So, what do we do? How do we balance the reality that our bodies, as they are, right now, are worthy and beautiful and valued, and still acknowledge that some days we don’t feel it? How do we strive for positivity while also accepting that it is ok to not feel positive all the time?

My solution is we practice.

We practice showing love and grace to ourselves each day, knowing that it won’t be perfect.

We practice complimenting ourselves and empowering ourselves.

And we practice letting go of the nonsense we are told by the external world, and sometimes our own brain.

This practice may look like getting up each day and thanking your body. It woke up! It is going to allow you to do something that day – even if its just watch TV!

Or maybe it is affirming yourself for something: that you rocked a meeting or that you spoke up about something that was wrong. That you made your favorite meal or cooked a new veggie! That you moved your body in a way that you enjoyed.

And maybe it’s just a practice of breathing.

Seriously: when we practice breathing, we are showing love to our body. We are giving our body the goodness that it needs and saying “Hey body. I see you. You are doing good today.”

I am a huge fan of breathing to mantras. They help me focus and help me let go of the negativity or pressures I am feeling in that moment. My personal favorite, that I use weekly – if not daily – is from Nadia Bolz-Weber. It is simple and to the point, and honestly, it really does make me smile every time. She says:

Breathe in, the good shit.

Breathe out, the bullshit.

Aren’t those words you want to live by? How can we practice inhaling only the good shit that serves us and our body and breathe out all the other nonsense crap that we are told and believe for no reason?

This practice will never be perfect, and it certainly won’t always be positive – and that is OK!!! The goal is not perfection. The goal is learning to honor and respect your body, no matter how you feel about it, in any and all ways it exists. Your body will change for the rest of your life (I will do a whole thing on this!), but it will also be home for the rest of your life. So show up for it and give it grace, daily; and allow the goodness and positivity to stem from that practice.

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