Let us begin by asking ourselves a few questions. What do you see when you stand in front of a full-length mirror? Which part of the body instantly catches your attention - is it your svelte figure, or the stoutness? Do you try hard to avoid noticing the wrinkles around the eyes?
Much emphasis is placed on the physical image these days. "Looking good" apparently leads to "feeling good". This implies a certain image projected as "desirable" and emulated by a few models. The rest of us just try and measure up to this yardstick.
Numerous advertisement hoardings, commercials and magazine-inserts make the going no easier. They splash around these "desirable" images, as though reinforcing their validity. Worse still; these images do not always project whole bodies, but mere parts - perfect parts of what you assume to be a perfect whole. Lips, hands, feet, legs - cut-outs from photographs where "the rest" would not have done justice to the product being advertised and hence, would not have made the same impression of perfection on your gullible minds.
No wonder then, more women and men are today dissatisfied with their body images, as compared to a decade earlier. As a result, they spend a lot of money trying to feel good about their body.
Do you aspire for optimum wellness?
In truth, feeling good about your body has nothing to do with a certain image. What you see in the mirror is a reflection of what you believe. If you love your body, you will like what you see in the mirror and vice-versa.
The question, do you love your body, sums up a lot. Its answer, defines your attitude towards your body. Don't think of it merely as a question for young girls, on the lines of - love your body even if you have acne and other kids tease you about it - but as a question for anyone.
When you pause to reflect on this question and your likely answer, you will be unravelling the secret behind your current body image. If you say you love your body, do your actions towards your body really reflect this love?
It doesn't look good!
Once you know what you feel, you can channel your energy to an approach that will lead you to optimum wellness. For instance, if you don't love what you see, your behaviour towards your body is also not likely to be a reflection of love. If you're overweight, think of it this way - if you treat your body like a dumping ground, for a variety of foods of your taste, irrespective of your bodies' need for nutrition - are you expressing love for your body?
Evidently not - more like disregard. Continuing on the same note, if your exercise regimen is limited to walking to the refrigerator or searching for the TV remote, are you reflecting love for your body? Again no!
If you love something, you look after it, right? Say your priceless gold necklace - would you carelessly leave it around? Of course not! Continuing the same thread, if you truly loved your body, wouldn't you show it some respect, by being sensitive to its needs - for nutrition, water, for exercise, for rest and so on. You wouldn't put it down by not caring for its needs.
So how should you go about loving your body?
The "It's all about me" syndrome
Even though our outlook nowadays is more self-centred and individualistic than ever before, we still seem to accept certain societal images. It comes as no surprise then, that those who boast socially accepted model hour-glass figures radiate a certain zing, dress to kill and in general, seem to feel much better about themselves than the rest of us.
It is true that they genuinely love their body, and make intense efforts to look after their physical self. However, the main approach should be to identify very closely with your body, which is quite different from the view that your body is but your instrument to live and communicate in the physical realm.
An excessively physical approach towards your body could lead you away from your spiritual self. Spiritual seekers call this body consciousness, as opposed to soul consciousness. It means identifying primarily with the body, instead of with the soul.
Souls with bodies or bodies with souls?
In truth, we are souls who use a physical sheath - the human body - during our passage through life. Cultivating and sustaining a positive body image should ideally be based on our recognition of the fact that our body is an instrument commanded by our soul, and not the other way around.
An entirely different perspective then arises. When you look after your body as an instrument, you love it for its use, and care for it in such a way that you are able to maximise its use. Your love for your body is not a by-product of the way it looks. It is a reason to ensure its functionality, which involves taking care of its needs for nutrition, exercise and rest - the components of good health and wellness.
Love your body
Another outcome of this different perspective is that your love for your body does not depend on someone else loving it; you love your instrument for what it is worth to you, not to someone else. Some people feel how can we love ourselves if we do not feel loved? Well, you can simply love your body because it is your only means to ensure a long and healthy life. Also, in most cases, love is infectious! When you radiate true love, it attracts much more.
So when you stand in front of the mirror and don't like what you see, think of your dietary and exercise habits and critically examine your lifestyle. Are you doings something that does not reflect love for your body? If yes, then it's time you make some changes, and learn to love and respect this priceless instrument. After all, it is but the reality of your existence.
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