Meditate to Improve Your Body Image--Part I

I saw that. You just rolled your eyes. Don’t deny it. Maybe you’re thinking, “Great, more woo-woo, new-age, snake-oil nonsense.” Or, “Meditation won’t improve my body image--a better body will.” Or, “I’ve tried meditation and I can’t do it.” Or whatever.

The topic of meditation is hot these days, and, yes, some are promising quick fixes that are not realistic. But if you’ll bear with me, I’ll try to make the case for how a consistent meditation practice can help improve your body image.

First, let’s talk about a few meditation myths. Meditation is not:

  •  A practice that makes your mind completely blank
  • A commitment that requires hours and hours of chanting (but it can be if that’s your thing)
  • Anti-religion
  • A torturous activity that involves sitting cross-legged on the floor for long periods of time that my back and behind simply cannot tolerate

Meditation is a broad term that encompasses a variety of focusing and awareness activities. It is the means to incorporating mindfulness into your day-to-day life. Meditation might be:

  • Just a few minutes in duration
  • In motion, as in a walking meditation
  • Guided or nonguided
  • Aided by props such as a candle or incense

So how does meditation help with body image? Well, to survive difficult life experiences, we often create defensive shells. This is a perfectly natural response to any threat or danger. However, sometimes our brains aren’t good at realizing that the danger has passed, and we begin to believe that the outer shell is actually ourselves. We lose connection to that inner genuine and complete self.

Your inner self knows that your weight or size is not who you are; it knows that you are so much more than that. Meditation helps us connect to our deeper identity that is not just defined by waist size. Meditation allows you to relax and breathe, offering your body a sense of safety.

Take a moment now and do a quick inventory of your body. Start at the feet and move all the way up to the top of your head. Which parts were holding tension or stress? Meditation draws our awareness to those parts that need attention. And when we start to listen to our bodies, we begin to accept them.

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