Anam_self-compassion_hugIn the Foundations of Wellbeing program, this week’s theme is about appreciating our bodies.

“Don’t say anything about yourself that you wouldn’t say about your best friend.”

Why appreciate our bodies? Understanding our bodies helps to be in touch with it – leading to a greater sense of integration. The vast majority of inputs that come into our brain originate from inside our bodies rather than from the outside environment. They are telling us that things are fine, maybe not perfect but basic functions are in order.

If we recognize the importance of this message, we are more grateful and less self-critical, embarrassed or ashamed. There is a greater self-esteem and confidence – I may not feel like a million bucks but I am fine.

In Go Wild, Harvard’s John Ratey, highlights the importance of being active, pointing out that evolution is a lot about developing better capacities to move. “For us humans, this meant becoming able to walk upright, throw stones and spears accurately, talk, make objects with nimble fingers…and more conceptually, move into and reflect on the past, the future, and the mind of others and oneself.”

When we appreciate our bodies, it improves over time and we will take better care of it. It’s hard to care for something we feel disappointed, angry or apathetic toward. When we take good care of our bodies, it supports our vitality and more resources grow in it, which helps the core need of safety which we discussed in previous posts.

Body image is largely shaped by media, culture, politics, economics and gender-defined norms. Women are the primary targets of this ideal. If we don’t like our bodies, feel let down by it or embarrassed about it, we naturally tend to neglect, or detach from it. The neglected body gets worn out – which lowers energy, sensuality and enthusiasm.

When we are self-conscious, self-critical or preoccupied with other’s judgments, it’s harder to be relaxed and authentic.

If we bring to mind people we like, how much does the way they look matter to us? If we think about meeting people for the first time, how long does it take to get past looks to get to a deeper sense of them? Can we perceive ourselves from the perspective of someone else?

When we feel self-critical, we can think of a friend with a body, talents, skills and virtues like ours. If that friend were preoccupied or critical of their body, what would we tell them? Could we say the same reasonable, compassionate and nurturing things to ourselves?

We often compare ourselves to others and feel inferior. When we feel others are judging us, it’s helpful to remember:

1. Others are not thinking that much about us.

2. They are also caught up in the body ideal.

Can we imagine?

Being grateful to our body?

Accepting and enjoying our body as it is?

Opening to the energy, sensuality and passion that is naturally inside us?

Expressing ourselves authentically and fully with the body we have?

Listening to what our body is telling us? What does it want in terms of food, movement? Clothing? Work? Fun?

There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

Can we let our mind move deeply into experiences that feel good, helping them move deeply into our nervous system, planting seeds that will flower and fruit – as Mary Oliver calls “your one wild and precious life?”

Inside this clay jug there are canyons

and pine mountains, and the maker of

canyons and pine mountains!….

the God whom I love is inside. – Kabir


Jewish grandmother at the beach watching the baby all wrapped in hat and bonnet. Suddenly this huge wave comes in carries the baby away – the grandmother called out to god and pleaded that from now on she will keep the Shabath and will go to temple regularly. Suddenly another big wave brought the baby right back on to her lap. She looked up and said “and the hat”?