Gratitude is a quality we can be constantly developing to feel more connected in our lives. With the slowing energy of Autumn and the upcoming celebration of Thanksgiving with family and friends, we’re more likely to take pause at this time to appreciate all the blessings in our lives. One that I’d like to highlight today is the amazing human body.
Do you love and appreciate your body as it is? For many of us, the answer is “NO”.
There might be something about our appearance that we’d like to change. Or maybe we’ve had some health challenges that have made us feel betrayed by our bodies. Perhaps we DO go through periods of being very thankful for our physical state, but it’s only after a health scare or after someone close to us dies.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to be thankful for your body everyday? Imagine what that may look like.
With that degree of appreciation, we would drop many fears and insecurities. We would make fewer judgements about the appearance of other people too. Most notably, you’d probably stay well for longer stretches of time if you’re constantly checking in with your body, addressing the smallest complaints quickly with devoted self-care.
We all need help in this area. But women are especially sensitive to body image issues and many moms tend to become more disconnected to their bodies as they start to care for their children.
Below are a few ideas to help you feel truly thankful for this precious vehicle that has carried you so far in your life and will continue to do so, hopefully for many more decades to come.
How do you develop appreciation for your body?
1. Consider the body’s amazing capacity to heal
Most of our standard healthcare is focused on pathology. Fear of disease should not be your motivation for keeping your body well. Deep love and respect should be your motivation. To help you develop respect for your body, consider it’s amazing ability to maintain balance and heal.
Our immune system rushes to our aid whenever we have a cut or there’s a foreign microscopic invader. It’s runs on autopilot to keep your heart beating, breath moving, and temperature stable. It WANTS to find balance and is always giving you clues when it’s feeling overwhelmed.
To learn more, you might want to check out the new documentary HEAL which chronicles the health journey of several people who are trying to befriend their bodies and investigate how thoughts and emotions (in response to the outside world) affect their physical health.
2. Seek out natural solutions to aid your body
In my practice, I find that the people who embrace the modalities that I offer take more responsibility for their health, feel empowered as they get better, and are truly grateful as they see their body change and adapt.
3. Consider the qualities that make you unique
I am short, muscular, and curvy – very far from the “ideal” lithe body that many women long for. As a tween and even through young adulthood people would tease me about working out a lot (which I did not) and it felt horrible.
But over the years I was able to accept the dichotomy of being strong AND feminine. And now I know that other people’s opinions about my body don’t matter.
We all have something about us that may seem different from others. Can you shift your mind and see this as a gift instead of something that makes you seem strange or different?
4. Fill your wardrobe with clothes that fit
Honestly, I need to take my own advice here. I am very, very slowly losing weight and I have a few pre-pregnancy items (7+ yrs. old!) that I’m still longing to get into. Why? I seriously don’t know and they are taking up space.
Are you doing the same? Maybe we should donate those clothes so people who are that size right now can wear them right now. We can fill our wardrobe with clothes that are appealing and comfortable, and not crowd it with those that remind us of our former self or a future ideal.
5. Support clothing companies that value a body-positive image
I love using my money to support causes and companies that share my values.
Beyond Yoga is where I buy most of my yoga clothes because they are made in the USA, carry sizes from XXS to XXL, and use photos on their website of women of all shapes and sizes too.
Shopping with an inclusive brand can really help if you’re needing a boost of body image acceptance. Here’s a few more brands you may want to look at:
6. Adorn your body
Nice form-fitting outfits, jewelry, makeup, slathering with essential oils – even getting piercings and tattoos – are ways many of us like to highlight our favorite features and honor our bodies.
7. Listen to your body
Again, your body is amazing and is always communicating with you! But the mind is powerful and can easily overlook these messages and even discount them.
If you want to accept your body as it is, you’ll need to take a good honest look at it’s condition. Accepting does not mean that we leave it alone though! Instead, we make conscious changes to give it what it needs. The following are typically alarm signals that the body is needing extra support:
Unintentional weight gain/loss
We can thank our body for these messages, see all of this without shame, and move forward to give the body what it needs to come into balance (perhaps also asking for help from a health professional).
8. Appreciate it’s ability to experience pleasure
The way the body communicates with us is not all negative! Let’s thank it for it’s ability to experience pleasure as well. How?
Make your sex life a greater priority
Get regular massages or do self-massage
Take long, hot baths with pleasant smelling, therapeutic essential oils
Nourish your body with yummy but healthy foods (balance needs vs. cravings)
For exercise, do what is fun, what you enjoy!
Invest in self-care!
9. Move forward without regrets
Cultivating gratitude for the body requires us to live fully in the present moment.
I know a few people right now who are overwhelmed with health challenges and are constantly comparing their current condition with how they used to be in the past. It’s important to learn from the past, but then to move forward with this new knowledge.
Need inspiration? Check out this article that highlights 3 amputee yoginis who use their Instagram feeds to teach body positivity and help others embrace their current condition.
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10. Use positive affirmations
Positive affirmations can be a great tool in changing unhelpful negative behavior like body shaming.
Simply use a search engine or Pinterest and input “body positive affirmations” to find one that matches what you need to be thankful for your body as it is. Here’s one that I like:
Do you have other ideas to help cultivate gratitude for our bodies and our health? We’d love to hear them!