As a practitioner of massage therapy and energy work, I have seen a vast range of chronic pain, dis-ease, emotional upset, and more that has stemmed from one simple seed that has a common thread among almost every person I’ve touched – and that seed is BODY SHAME.
From the 8-month pregnant woman who apologizes for not being able to shave her legs, to the guy who apologizes for sweating too much, to the woman who is ashamed of her coffee breath, I have seen it all. Men and women all expressing shame or apologizing for their natural body processes – their weight, sweating, snoring, crying, laughing, natural body aroma, the size and shape of their various body parts, you name it. And it breaks my heart.
As my work has expanded into the realms of spiritual and emotional healing, I have come to understand that the body hears EVERYTHING our conscious and subconscious mind tells it. And that chronic pain, illness, and dis-ease in the physical body is very tightly correlated to what goes on in the mind. New developments in the fields of psychoneuroimmunology and quantum physics are actually starting to explain how this happens!And even though I thoroughly understand this body-mind connection, I have not escaped my own personal struggle with body shame. I feel as though on some level it is an unavoidable part of being a human being. It doesn’t help that Western culture perpetuates shame over our bodies, leading us to fear, and try to control and even suppress our natural body processes. We have an entire cosmetics industry devoted to masking our natural “smell” through (toxic) deodorants, perfumes, and lotions. Just scan the aisles of any grocery store and you’re sure to be inundated with a cacophony of terribly strong smelling products for both men and women. We have products labeled “feminine hygiene” as though women and their monthly cycles are extra dirty. Our religious institutions foster body shame as well, and discourage things like personal touch, pleasure, curiosity, and the sharing of our bodies with another. And don’t even get me started on the media and Madison Avenue. Our advertising industry pumps out billions and billions of messages, both overt and subtle, that literally feed off of how much we hate our bodies, see them as “broken,” and spend billions of dollars collectively trying to “fix” them. The subconscious messages we receive about our bodies’ shamefulness surround us every single day. It’s no wonder that Americans in particular are suffering from ever increasing amounts of chronic pain, depression, anxiety, and more.
This rampant body shame, and resultant disconnect from our bodies, is what inspired me to create The Body Temple – a massage and energy work practice whose foundational intention is to help us all reframe our relationships with our bodies, drawing upon the ancient understanding that the body is sacred – a safe haven, a temple that houses our soul. And all of my body and energy work sessions are practiced from this one simple intention – to foster and inspire an unconditionally loving, radically accepting, nonjudgmental view of our bodies. To appreciate them for the absolute wondrous miracle that they are! They are our solid, unconditionally loving allies. They show up for us every single day, no matter how we treat them. Don’t they deserve to be reciprocated with equal levels of love, appreciation, and care?
I promise you, I will ALWAYS treat your body with unconditional love, kindness, and appreciation. And my hope is that by working together, we can inspire you to align your mind with your body, and do the same. Once you begin the path of unconditional self-love, your health, your body, and your whole life begin to be transformed.If you are like me, and love to journal, here are some prompts that can inspire you to begin a healthier connection with your body. Try not to judge them; simply observe them and be curious about them as you write them in a journal. I have, at times, dedicated my entire journal to my connection to my body. And it has been incredibly rewarding:
1. What do I say about my body, both to myself, and to others? 2. How do I feel, overall, about my body? About my body’s appearance? 3. Look in the mirror. How do I feel? What thoughts run through my head? 4. Do I blame my body for my illness, or how things are going in my life and in my relationships? 5. Write down a list of things you can do to begin to treat your body like the temple it is. What would you feed it? How would you care for it?
What habits would you walk away from? If you feel overwhelmed and sad about your list, don’t worry. Awareness puts you on a path of changing how you commune with your body. And energy work and bodywork can help speed up the process dramatically. As always I am so happy to be a companion with you on your path to wholeness.
*The Body Temple Deep Integrated Bodywork was designed to be a complementary therapy to traditional approaches to physical, mental, and emotional unrest. DIB is not meant to take the place of medical or psychological care and advice. Please consult your physician before you make any changes to medications, lifestyle, etc. You are always encouraged to follow your own intuition when making decisions about your health and wellbeing.