Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Where did you learn what is beautiful? Where did you learn what is ugly? Where did you learn what a perfect body looks like? And how old were you when you came to these conclusions?
A few years ago when walking down the street in Paris we found ourselves taken by the body image represented as "beautiful" by the street lamps in front of the Paris Opera House. Built in the mid-1800's, those lamps are supported by statues of naked women. These castings done in the Neo-Baroque style are curvy, with rounded bellies and by today's standards they all need to go on Weight Watchers, visit Jenny Craig or at very least tighten their abs with a good dose of Pilates.
Our idea of a beautiful body was given to us by the culture we grew up in. By the time we reach puberty we each have decided what we need to be like in order to have the perfect body and by that time, we knew we never would.
One year the two of us led 6 weeks of consecutive courses at a conference center on Maui. The course room had an entire wall of mirrors so we became comfortable seeing ourselves daily in shorts and even from time-to-time in our bikini and swim suit. However when we completed the groups and went to a hotel down near the beach for a bit of R&R, we were surprised to discover that when looking in those mirrors our bodies appeared sadly lacking. It was a lesson, never forgotten, that the culture we are surrounded by can make a direct and immediate impact on our self-perceptions.
If you want to know your body image, begin by paying attention to your internal conversation without taking it personally.
"What?" you might say, "How can I possibly not take how I look and feel personally?"
It is easy once your realize that your thoughts about yourself and how you look are a collection of recordings stored in your internal Jukebox or MP3 player and when the circumstances apply a little pressure you play a familiar tune.
The key to creating something new rather than playing an oldie-but-not-so-goody is awareness. Learning the art of awareness, or self-observation without self-reproach, is a skill-set that can be learned. Like exercising a muscle, the more you simply see things without judging what you see, the more you discover how to neutrally observe yourself. As you discover how to be kind to yourself rather than berate yourself for the body you have, it certainly sets you up to find motivation for living a healthy lifestyle. If every time you step on a scale or go to the gym it is reinforcement that you are "fat," sooner or later you are going to want to quit on yourself.
Want to know a great secret for dissolving a negative body image? Take an anthropological approach. Pretend you are a scientist, observing a culture of one -- yourself. The trick is not to judge what you see but to neutrally observe how you function, including your thought processes. Awareness and kindness is key.
Be kind to yourself right now, not when you lose the weight and not when you continue the exercise routine that you promised yourself you would.
In this moment you are a perfect you. And if you gain or lose some weight, then you will still be you. But if you are kind to yourself right now, and just notice how you are without beating on yourself for what you see, then regardless of your weight, shape or size you will feel satisfied.
Most people are afraid that if they aren't hard on themselves then there will be no motivation to improve, no reason to move and that they will then turn into the world's largest couch potato. Not true. When you are feeling satisfied, and good in your own skin, there is no need to turn to comfort food. That extra cookie isn't a reward when living your life is its own reward. Don't you feel more like moving out into the world and being active in your life when you aren't being hard on yourself? Oddly enough, when you don't pick on yourself, your actions will tend to support a healthy lifestyle and your body is sure to follow.
About the Authors:
Since 1987, internationally acclaimed authors, seminar leaders, and business consultants Ariel and Shya Kane have acted as guides, leading people through the swamp of the mind into the clarity and brilliance of the moment. To find out more about the Kanes and their Transformational Community or to sign up to receive their article of the month, visit their website at http://www.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
This riddle keeps our minds wrapped in a never-ending search for truth. You can't have an egg without first having a chicken... but then, where did the chicken come from? It's a conundrum that might also apply to a more elemental issue: who are we and what are we doing?
Do we become what we do... or do we do who we are? You could easily argue either side - depending upon your experience. You might even determine that it's a little of both.
There may not be a single correct answer to this dilemma, but even unsolvable problems offer significant insights into how our minds work and, consequently, how our lives look.
Take this example: how long have you been trying to figure out how to have the life you really want to live? Forever? How many times have you changed relationships, jobs, hair styles, residences - all in pursuit of the wondrous image you have of the perfect life? And where has that gotten you?
If insanity is the belief that you can get a different result from doing the same ineffective thing over and over again, then may I offer a bit of sanity? Rather than pursuing your dream life, become the person that dream life was built for.
Who would you need to BE to live the life you want? Face it, right now you are perfectly suited to the life you have. It fits like a glove. Now, you might not like that fact, but there it is. If you were a different person, you'd be living different life.
So, if you want a different life from what you now have - become the person who has that kind of life. Work on the inside first and the outside will be drawn to you like flies to honey. It will be a natural extension of who you have become. There will be no struggle.
Our problem is that we want a different life, but we don't want to change. There's that definition of insanity again. Or, perhaps we're not sure how to change. One of my favorite book titles is The Answer to How is Yes
Your mind is a miracle of life. It has the power to imagine and create anything. Yes, even yours! But, the question how jams a wrench in its gears and it just stops considering a solution. It already knows you don't expect to find an answer, so it doesn't chase that goose.
You already know how to live the life you want to live. But, from your current state of being, that life isn't possible. Become the person that that life fits. What would you need to believe to have that life? What would you need to read, see, eat, do? What we believe and what we receive are very predictable. Look at the people who are living the life you want. Who are they, really?
If you want to have career success, become who successful people are. If you want to have loving relationships, become who those with loving relationships are. If you want well-being in body and mind, become who those with well-being are.
It's not enough just to DO what people do who are living the life you want. It begins with being first. When what you do is a natural extension of who you are, life flows. Who do you need to BE to live the life you want? How tragic it would be to have your dream life show up and you aren't yet person enough to handle it!
Karen is author of The Sequoia Seed: Remembering the Truth of Who You Are, a great read for anyone who is seeking understanding or guidance, inspiration or clarity in his or her life. Waking Up, the free bi-monthly ezine, was created to help you activate your natural motivation to move beyond mere existence and to really LIVE your dreams. Contact by tel: 509... or email.