As we move into the holiday season – one that will inevitably be different from any one that has preceded it and likely different than any in the future – the need for gratitude is at an all time high. And because the holidays can be a painful time to have a body – with diet culture’s insidious messages seemingly everywhere – a body gratitude practice is especially important.
Body gratitude is not the same thing as body positivity or body affirmations. It is not about obliterating painful feelings or thoughts about your body and rewriting them in a positive light. Our negativity bias, especially in the context of our body-aggressive and problem-solving culture, causes us to focus on what doesn’t work about our bodies rather than what does. A radical practice, therefore, is to have body gratitude. Intentional, continual body gratitude that acknowledges our negative feelings while also appreciating what our bodies do for us, what does work, and what we intentionally choose to focus on.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
* I am grateful for this body that moves me around the world
* I am grateful for this body that gave me my child(ren)
* I am grateful for this body that is my primary instrument of caregiving for the people I love
* I am grateful for these strong legs that carry me everywhere I go
* I am grateful for these arms that can encircle and embrace the people I love
* I am grateful for this body that can dance in the living room
* I am grateful for this body that can run, walk, do yoga, ride a bike
* I am grateful for these eyes, nose, ears, mouth, and skin that work and let me experience the world sensually
* I am grateful for my clitoris who’s only job is to give me pleasure
* I am grateful that I don’t have to control my body’s breathing, my heart beating
* I am grateful that I have never had to think about my pancreas (and if you have had to think about your pancreas, perhaps you could be grateful that with medical assistance your pancreas is doing the best it can)
* I am grateful for all the processes my body is engaged in that I have never even considered
A body gratitude practice is not meant to squash negative feelings about our bodies. We cannot heal self-aggression with self-aggression and rendering certain thoughts off limits is unkind and unrealistic. We can, however, broaden our perspective so that we are taking in the full picture – acknowledging that in addition to what causes us distress, there is much to be grateful for.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, WARRIORS!