One of my students became very disciplined in journaling with her Divine, and one day she said to me, “I’m so surprised. Continually the guidance I am getting is to drink water, take a nap, go for a walk, eat my vegetables, and give myself a big hug! I feel like my Divine is my grandmother!”
I wasn’t surprised by this news at all. Taking care of your body temple is usually the first direction that comes from your Divine. You are the vessel through which the goodness of life pours, and if you’re not caring for yourself then it can’t flow.
The God of your being can only do for you what it can do through you. This is a very important idea. If you do not care for yourself, you become like a pipe that is clogged, and just as water can only flow through at the force that the pipe will allow, the goodness of the Universe can only flow according to how open and clear you are.
Listening To Your Body and Honoring Its Requests
Taking care of your body is the most primal, basic way to practice self-love. When you stop to really listen to your body and seek guidance from within, it usually becomes crystal clear what you should do or not do, eat or not eat. Your body knows what it wants and needs. The challenge is in listening to your body and honoring its requests.
As you open to listening more closely to your body you may find yourself needing to withdraw certain sugars, wheat, meats, or toxins that it has become addicted to. Once those are gone, wow! The communication between you and your body will likely improve tremendously.
Taking care of your body takes extra time because what it needs is not microwaved, fast and easy, non-food in a box, but living foods that require time to shop for and prepare. But this time is well spent, as it is always an expression of self-love. You are worth the time it takes to have the right foods around you.
Your Body Loves To Move and Feel Good
In addition to putting what you need into your body, also remember that your body loves to move and feel good. Like a brilliant race car, your body loves to be used for what it was designed for. The truth is that the more we use our bodies in ways that make us feel healthy and strong, the better we feel on all levels of our being.
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The world of exercise options is enormous. I guarantee you there is something out there you will really enjoy. For example, just the other day I saw an ad for fly yoga, which is a combination of traditional yoga techniques, acrobatics, gymnastics, and dance. They use silk hammocks and practice advanced inversions and circus-style tricks. How crazy fun is that? Not for you? Then how about joining a gym with a pool? Or riding your bike around town? There are lots of options, and you can switch up your routine based on the seasons.
Whatever belief is keeping you from this kind of care, give it up. If you think you’ve got no time, you’re wrong. You choose how to spend your time—so reallocate it. If you’re waiting for your body to be in better shape before you’ll start exercising, seriously and quickly give that one up! That’s just a setup to keep you not exercising. If you’re one of those people who says, “I hate exercise,” then definitely give that statement up. Literally surrender it and decide for yourself that there is something fun and deeply fulfilling for you and your body. Everyone has to move.
When you make this proactive decision, I assure you that something will appear before you. Either a friend will casually mention something or you’ll see it right in front of your face on a billboard. There is something—I absolutely know it. And remember, you are worth it!
It's Time to Stop Disliking Your Body
While healthy eating and exercise may have the bonus effects of making you slimmer and healthier looking, it’s important not to lose sight of why you’re taking better care of yourself in the first place. Many want their body to be different—sexier, thinner, more muscular, whatever. But dieting and exercising for the sole purpose of superficial gain will not keep you motivated in the long run, because placing your worth on other people’s recognition is not sustainable. And that illusion of having a supermodel or action hero’s body only leads to one thing: extreme suffering.
For many of us, this is not a life-or-death situation, but more of a chronic, low-grade form of suffering. It’s time to address it head on and stop it, and the way to do that is by choosing to end any and all negative, unkind, and unproductive statements about your body.
Who would you be if you were free of any and all negative attacks on your body temple? Just take a moment and breathe into this idea. What would be possible for you if you chose to love and accept yourself exactly as you are, right this very moment?
Your body needs and deserves your care and attention. It works so hard every day, and it never criticizes you—don’t judge it, blame it, attack it, and stuff it with non-foods. Let’s put down the boxing gloves and start loving it, touching it, appreciating and celebrating it.
Loving Yourself: Body and Soul
Your body is an expression of what you think, say, do, and consume. It is an intelligent system that serves you while you are here on this earth. So, not just caring for your body but treating it as a beautiful, worthy temple will transform the way you love and accept yourself. But remember, you are not only your body. When you die you will lay it down and let it go. It’s important to keep this relationship in perspective.
I know there will come a time when loving yourself comes easily. But until then, we’ve got some practicing to do. The exercises in this chapter are meant to be ongoing until they become a way of life. There really is no day but today, so dive in and start loving all over yourself.
Exercise: Love Letter to Yourself
This particular letter is one of my favorites to write, because it’s so deeply healing. The purpose of this letter is to give yourself all the love, acceptance, affirmation, and appreciation you can muster—and then throw even more on top of that! I spent many years waiting for Mom, Dad, siblings, partners, lovers, and friends to say the words that would heal me. They said them—but they didn’t necessarily heal me, because first I had to believe them.
You, and you alone, must love yourself madly. The paradox is that when you do, the world will reflect this back to you, and you’ll be able to really breathe it in and enjoy it. Here’s a sample letter to myself.
Dear Mark Anthony,
I absolutely love and adore you. You are just fantastic. You’re smart, funny, attractive, and such a blessing to so many. You have no idea how much your positive approach to life helps others.
I so honor how you survived some very rough times and are now a loving, compassionate man who is free from bitterness and filled with beauty and God’s grace. Your willingness to keep growing and looking at yourself is amazing—seriously, the entire Universe rejoices at how open you are to see, change, expand, and allow greater good to be yours.
I love you. I love you. I love you to the moon and back, to Mars and back, to Pluto and back, and to every star in the sky . . . and back. Don’t ever wonder if you’re lovable, because YOU ARE!
Please, enjoy your life. Look around and see how magnificent it is. All the love that you seek is within. All the joy that you want to feel is right inside you awaiting your calling. Be happy—now. Be willing to be more and more supported. Be content in knowing that you are deeply and dearly and fully loved.
Now it’s your turn. See if you can go even further and get even sappier than I did. Pour the love on real thick! Oh, by the way, don’t just write it and put it away. You’ll want to read this letter morning, noon, and night for twenty-one whole days. Then what? Write a new one . . . and start over.
Exercise: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s Amazing After All?
Stand in front of a full-length mirror naked. Begin by looking into your eyes and just breathe. Take some slow, deep breaths until you feel your body relax. Beginning with your eyes, say, “Thank you, eyes. I love and appreciate you.”
Repeat this as you move to different parts of your body—your nose, mouth, cheeks, hair, ears, throat, shoulders. Move all the way down your body, slowly and intentionally. Tell every part of your body, “Thank you. I love and appreciate you.” Include your vital organs, your skin, your bones, and your fluids. Do not stop until you have covered every body part from head to toe.
When you’ve covered everything, stand there a few minutes longer just breathing and looking at yourself. Refrain from judgment. Just be with yourself. Look at yourself. When was the last time you just looked at yourself and poured love upon your body temple? Please, be extremely, outrageously kind.
Exercise: Pamper Yourself! and Then Do It Some More!
Loving yourself means treating yourself like royalty as often as you can. Get a massage, take long walks, take yourself out on a date, or see a movie by yourself. Basically, be with you! The more time you spend caring for yourself, the more you’ll like being alone with yourself. Even when life gets hectic and it seems you just can’t get ahead, give yourself the time, attention, and care you deserve.
What makes you feel pampered and special? You don’t need a lot of money to do this. Bubble baths with candles burning and music you love can be heaven on earth. Discover the healthy foods you love and have them around you as much as possible. Do the same with people and things.
Once a month, give yourself a full “Me Day” where you only do what you want to do when you want to do it—for and by yourself. Oh, the rewards that will come out of this are countless.
Remember, loving yourself is a daily practice that will keep getting easier and easier the more you do it. It’s a powerful step in ending unnecessary suffering.
©2014 by Mark Anthony Lord. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher,
Hierophant Publishing. www.hierophantpublishing.com
Thou Shall Not Suffer: 7 Steps to a Life of Joy
by Mark Anthony Lord.
About the Author
Mark Anthony Lord is the founder and spiritual director of the Bodhi Spiritual Center in Chicago. An internationally recognized speaker and workshop presenter, his teaching style is engaging and experiential, using humor, current events, and personal examples to encourage people to ask the deeper questions that allow genuine transformation. www.markanthonylord.com