Ask any woman what her “problem areas” are and she’ll easily rattle off a list. As a woman in one of my workshops blurted out, “What isn’t a problem area?!” Ask the same group of women to list what they love about their bodies, and you’ll be met with fewer and quieter answers. Affirmations alone only go so far – and initially, the words fall on deaf ears. She doesn’t believe it. She’s been deflecting compliments her whole life. So, it takes time. I want to get to the root. Show me the easy way. I prefer strategies that won’t take weeks or months to see results. The short-cut is through the body herself.
A surefire way to fall in love with our body again is to get to know her intimately, and treat her with love and tenderness, as you would a lover. Clarissa Pinkola Estés, in The Joyous Body, refers to the body as your most loyal consort, a lover who will never leave your side. The brain can discount words. But loving attention to the body through physical touch soaks into the cells. Hits us at a cellular level of body intelligence that bypasses the brain. And although the occasional spa day is a nice self-love oasis, lasting transformation takes practice. Start talking consistent self-care to a woman who’s running on empty, however, and her eyes glaze over. To her ears, it sounds like another “to do” on a list that’s already miles long – which is why I’m all about tweaking what women already do every day.
Here are my top 3 do-able, daily practices that I teach my clients, to re-introduce them to their magical, gorgeous bodies. To clarify, I am not prescribing yet another something to feel guilty about if you don’t get to it every day. Take it easy. Do what speaks to you. You know your body best. (And she knows better than you. Trust in her.)
1) Reclaim your morning shower.
You know those shower scenes in movies targeted primarily to young men, where women – ahem – thoroughly enjoy their shower, spending an inordinate amount of time fondling their breasts? Although laughable, there is something valuable to learn here. (Stay with me!) Many of us rush through a shower with utilitarian fervor, getting in and out as quickly as possible. But how often do you have unencumbered time alone, naked and wet? This is an opportunity to enjoy ALL your senses, my friends! It doesn’t need to be a long shower – though I do recommend slowing the pace of hand over skin. Enjoy the scent rising in the steam, the feel of water running over skin, your hands on your body… Savor the feel of skin on skin.
Put on a sexy tune and swivel your hips as you soap up and rinse… You may feel a little silly, and that’s perfect. Once, in a workshop, I lowered the lights and we practiced this tool to Let’s Get It On by Marvin Gaye. Giggles abounded. Bingo! That’s what I’m talking about. Finally, don’t compromise. Tune in to exactly what cleanser feels best on your skin, which smells refresh or bewitch you… For me, all-natural soap scented with essential oils does the trick. This is not the place to skimp, nor does it need to be expensive. Just: EXACTLY what you want.
2) Anoint your body slower than slow.
Many of us moisturize post-shower. Be it lotion or oil, whatever makes you feel most luscious, here is the tool: Apply your moisturizer slower than slow.
As in, begin applying s-l-o-w-l-y – and then, go half that speed. (This may be a daily evening practice.)
For bonus points: Witness your beauty. Get in front of the mirror and watch yourself.
The first time I did this, I saw my hand travel slowly down the length of a thigh I spent most of my life berating as “too big for shorts.” I took in the graceful curve of my leg, the fine bones of my hand, the sensual drag of one over the other… Tears shook my shoulders.
Now, not a day goes by that I don’t anoint some part of my body with frankincense and myrrh.
By slowing down and watching your reflection, you can no longer rush past appreciation.
3) Take a moment’s pause.
(Post- or pre-shower, your choice). The third tool’s purpose is twofold.
First, before rip-roaring into clothes and dashing out the door, or rushing out of bed upon waking, putting a spacer into your day expands your relationship with time. (All 3 tools do this).
There is no better antidote to “I don’t have time” than taking an extra moment before, in or after your shower, or slowly applying moisturizer. It sends the message to your cells: “I have more than enough time,” immediately decreasing stress and bringing you present.
Secondly, we are multi-tasking madwomen; in fact, it is one of our superpowers. The con to this pro is that we can easily flit from task to task right through to exhaustion if we don’t consciously insert time to rest, pause, and ground back into our bodies. Physical touch grounds us as women
That’s right… I’m telling you to touch yourself. 😉 And yes, you can do that too, or lay a hand on belly, or cup hand over elbow, or rub the back of your neck in an impromptu self-massage.
Like in the shower, get comfortable. Enjoy the touch of skin to skin. Pleasure is our secret sauce, our fuel. What makes us irresistible. Through touch, explore your body and your senses. As one of my mentors, Mama Gena, puts it: Become a pleasure researcher. What areas of your body are most sensitive? What feels good? Savor your sensual shower. Moisturize slowly and deliberately. Pause and ground yourself with touch. Do this on the regular… And watch your appreciation for your luscious body grow!