Body-image: a short practice to fall in love with your body
How do you feel about the way you look? When you’re looking in the mirror, do you like what you see or do you focus on flaws? How you perceive your body influences everything from your inner world to how you show up in your life — including your sex life. Discover this simple practice to fall in love with your body.
How do you feel about the way you look?
When you’re looking in the mirror, do you like what you see? Or do you focus on flaws?
A tummy you wish was flatter…
A wrinkle that is deeper…
Thighs that are too thick…
The list goes on and on.
If this rings true for you, know that you’re not alone!
In a 2006 study of more than 50,000 adults, 60% of women and 40% of men thought they were too heavy and were self-conscious about their weight.
That’s a lot.
How you perceive your body influences everything from your inner world to how you show up in your life. Your self-talk and mental/physical health are central here. Are you particularly self-critical and hard on yourself? This can hugely impact your mood, self-esteem and motivation.
How does this happen?
We’re constantly bombarded with direct or indirect messages of the way we ‘should’ look to be sexy, desired, and ‘worthy’. From catwalk models to magazine covers, we’re fed unrealistic standards of beauty.
And for some of us, we grew up with parents, family and circles that weren’t encouraging of our body… This also embeds self-consciousness ands shame about our body.
As a sex therapist and Tantra teacher, I get to see just how much body image also affects people’s eroticism, their capacity to really enjoy sex and open up to the full potential of their pleasure and body.
A 2012 review of 57 studies by Liesbeth Woertman and Femke van den Brink from Utrecht University found that women who feel worse about their bodies have less sexual satisfaction and pleasure, engage in riskier sex practices, and tend to experience more pain during sex.
But there are things that you can do to reclaim your body-love and sexual power. It is possible to learn to love your body, feel comfortable in your skin…and enjoy sex more!
How to re-write your relationship with your body
The best antidote for self-judgment is cultivating body awareness and a direct, visceral connection with your body, as well as practicing acceptance and compassion. My Radical Love Process™ is a practice designed to help you do just that. It helps you let go of judgments and be more connected, loving and accepting toward your body.
Prepare your space
Find a mirror and stand or sit in front of it. Choose 3-5 body parts that you tend to judge (for example, your belly, legs, body hair, nose etc.). For each part you choose, I will show you how to have a conversation with it through four steps:
Step 1 – Look at each body part at a time and say out loud what you love about it. For instance if I did this for my own belly I would say “I love how healthy you are and how smooth your skin is to touch”.
Step 2 – Next, ask that body part for forgiveness for any judgments or negative behaviours you have had toward it in the past (or maybe have right now). For example, you could say something like “Please forgive me for judging you as fat and “holding you in” because I feel self-conscious about the way you look”.
Step 3 – Express your intentions for the future. How would you like to relate with that part from now on? For example “My intention is to appreciate you and massage you lovingly for a few minutes every week”.
Step 4 – Give a voice to that body part and say out loud what you intuitively feel it would answer back to you in response to your stated intention. For instance, it might say “Thanks, I feel you are doing your best and I look forward to being massaged by you”.
This practice is so simple and very powerful. Try it and see how it helps you connect with your body, heal body shame, and become allies with yourself.
When I do this practice with clients, they often tear up or even sob. They realise just how cruel and critical they’ve been to their body. It’s so healing to fully acknowledge that and start flipping that around.
When they set an intention for how they want to start relating to their body, this feels very empowering and they often describe a feeling of “coming back to themselves”. Reconnecting with your own body feels so good.
When you love your body more, you’ll feel more at ease within yourself and more confident. Your whole life will be impacted, including your love life.
Are you ready?
This article is published first in Lua.
Art by @tinamariaelena