Sometimes it feels like our bodies don’t quite fit. They don’t move how we move. They don’t look or we look. It’s as though we’re buried in a sumo suit of flesh and emotions that don’t accurately reflect who we really are. The real you is less messy, more grounded, less anxious and more confident. The real you is comfortable in her own skin.
We think this body is not the truth. When we catch our reflection, we comfort ourselves by saying, “this is temporary.” Then we get to the business of making that true. We read the books, do the programs, try meditating, cut sugar. These things help, for a bit. Still though, some part of you whispers, “you are not home.” You want to smash something. You want to cry. You want out.
The systems of supremacy we live in say you are the problem. You’re just not made for this world. If you tried harder, you’d be happier, more at peace. Racialized capitalism says it’s time to get your life together. Enough with doubt. Enough with uncertainty. Enough with the cookies.
Your Body is the Moon
I’d like you to know, you are NOT the problem. Though I don’t know you, I know this unequivocally. I’d also like you to know that being at home in your body is a relationship that most of us aren’t taught to cultivate. All around us messages encourage us to work on our bodies, tame them because on their own they are wild and unpredictable.
Can you imagine prescribing such descriptors to the moon? When the moon is a crescent, do we think it’s less than? When it vanishes completely do we shame it for not showing up? We appreciate it in its myriad forms. We don’t expect fullness every night. We understand it’s responding to the nature of things.
In astrology, our body is represented by the moon. This is an apt association. Our body is naturally feeling, pulsing, and shifting. She’s an antenna constantly attuning to our internal and external world. Given the circumstances we live inside, if she’s not messy, she’s not doing her job.
The body is a teacher in the way that nature is a teacher. She reveals truths that are inconvenient. She pushes you to do things that are hard — not to make you into something you aren’t, but to help you claim and radiate more of who you really are. She wants you to free yourself of the standards you’ve been trained to attune to. She wants you to unabashedly do you.
Your Body is the Walk in The Woods
Your body is the walk in the woods you’ve done dozens of times. You know those trails. You’ve seen them in every season. You recognize that when hundreds of bumble bees arrive to pollinate the blooming milk thistle, this is an occasion worth taking in. When the seams of the trail split from not enough rain, you know the impacts of a dry winter have arrived.
To the infrequent visitor, your trail seems nice. Pleasant. They don’t notice the dryness of the trail, might even think the bees are a nuisance and numb them out. They don’t know this terrain like you do because they are not intimate with it.
Your body does not want you to be an infrequent visitor, noticing her only when she’s a problem. She wants to be intimately known by you. She wants you to see the textures of her trails, to know that special magic buzzing of her heart and to trust it. When conditions don’t support her thriving, she wants you to feel that, to know it and to take care.
Your body is waiting for you to come home to her one gentle step at a time.
Here’s a practice to meet Her.
Like going on your favorite hike, make a plan to meet your body. This doesn’t have to be something you do every day. You determine the frequency. How often would you like to spend time with just yourself? Every day? Once or twice a week? Make a commitment that feels like a gentle nudge but is also possible.
To prepare, carve out 10–15 minutes when you won’t be disturbed. You’ll also need a mirror. A hand mirror is fine to begin.
Start standing in front of (or holding) your mirror with your eyes closed. Be close to the mirror. Not so much that you’re touching but enough so that when you open your eyes you only see your face.
With eyes closed, take a moment to breathe. Notice where you feel your breath in your body.
Notice what sensations are present.
Is your heart racing? Do you feel excited? Nervous? Eager?
When you feel ready, open your eyes. Look only at your eyes. What do you see? Stay with this for 3 to 5 breaths. This is plenty of work for one day. If you’d like to end here, that is just fine. Otherwise, move on to the next step.
Take a step back to take in your whole face. Focus on what you see that you appreciate. Look at your face from top to bottom, left to right. Notice your cheeks, freckles, and laugh lines. What do you love about this face? Let yourself touch your face. Explore.
What sensations are present in your body? What memories are here? Stay with this for a few minutes. When you feel complete, thank yourself and take a moment away from the mirror. Ground and then journal about the experience.
Continue with this exercise gradually taking more steps back until you’re able to take in your whole body. Rather than focusing on imperfections, this is a practice of noticing what you like about your body. What you appreciate.
As you begin to feel more comfortable with your body, you may try this exercise with your clothes off.
Close your practice by thanking your body and acknowledging the hard work you’re doing to reclaim yourself. Take a deep breath.
Kelsey Blackwell, MS, is a cultural somatics practitioner and the author of Decolonizing the Body: Healing, Body-Centered Practices for Women of Color to Reclaim Confidence, Dignity & Self-Worth. In addition to being impactful, Kelsey believes working towards personal and collective liberation must also bring joy. She lives in San Francisco, CA.