“Love yourself/body” is totally a buzz-phrase these days. With the explosion of the health & wellness market, it seems as if everyone is talking about how ‘this or that’ will help us gain/attain self-love even easier. On the one hand, it is thrilling that, at least here in Austin, our community as a whole is deeply devoted to healthy living. On the other hand, however, this mainstream messaging often overlooks what I call, The Struggle. That’s right. The Struggle that it takes to explore, learn and discover just how exactly, I can love myself more, better, deeper; The Struggle to learn what ‘listening to my body’ really means; The Struggle to let go of all the thoughts, ideas and definitions I have about what it “looks like/should be/means” to be healthy. And especially, the struggle of, “how could I possibly make *me time* when there’s SO many ‘bigger,’ important issues to be addressing?!” The Self-Love Struggle is real.
I realize now, in hindsight, that one of the first loving acts I ever showed myself was acknowledging how disconnected I was from my body! This recognition hit me hard in massage school when I was receiving regular bodywork. I began to see how detached I was from my neck down- I was living in my head- and I was ‘checked out’ on just about every physical, emotional and spiritual level. As a result of massage, I began to connect with my body in new and different ways. Slowly, it was as if breath and life had been given to my hips and legs; movement flowed back into my shoulder girdle and joints. I could ‘feel into’ my body differently and these experiences began to radically alter my life. The ‘good’ news (and the ‘bad’ news) is that this was but a beginning. The Struggle really started as my body awareness heightened and I began to tap into emotions- a whole rainbow of emotion that I had consciously and unconsciously numbed out, pushed down and blocked out. UGH. I remember feeling scared of these huge waves of emotions. This was My Struggle. It became apparent that I needed more outlets for all this newfound emotional expression so I took up therapy...and more therapy... and then, over time, running, weightlifting, yoga and dancing. Movement became an incredibly power vehicle for me to help me listen and learn about myself.
Needless to say, loving myself more, better and deeper didn’t happen over night with a single declaration. It’s been an ongoing and ever-changing conversation with myself over many, many years. I’ve become a firm believer in my ability (our ability) to tune in to ourselves through movement- any form that resonates with you- and as a result, have the energy and capacity to create a fulfilling life! Movement- whether it’s Pilates, massage, dancing, running- they’re not just about ‘toning my arms’ or 'working out the pain in the neck,' but rather the ever evolving relationship with my body- how am I feeling in my body, now, today and the next, in this moment. It’s continually shifting and movement offers me the opportunity, time and space to listen, deeply, to what my body is telling me. I see now that the greatest thing I can do for this world is show up as my best self. And in order to BE this best version of myself, I must do things to take care of myself. In order for me to have the capacity to give back to this chaotic world we live in, I must love myself deeper- find those definitions of movement and well-being that work for me- and use them as tools to know myself and “be the change I want to see in the world.”