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The Depths of Self Love, By Angela Thurston

 

In a world where we are inundated with images of woman with seemingly perfect bodies, how do we make peace with ours? I have struggled with body image, bulimia and issues of self worth, and as much as I have tried supplements, diets; and even the perfect work out routine in addition to – these solutions have not offered me any long term results.

The power of positive thinking and the power of the mind are some key phrases that were offered up to me as means of support, guidance and comfort during those times of challenge. So with the strength of willpower, I muscled my way through bulimia, had a few relapses, and emerged on the other side. What I discovered on the other side was that I was still swimming in the waters of lack – lack of self love, self worth and self care. These areas of disconnect supported my emotional eating, affected my relationships and kept me circulating in the mire of my stories.

Even though the mind is a very powerful thing, it was not enough.

I began my immersion in the field of healing, I was comprehending the concepts, I was being the client, I was being the student, I was being the facilitator, and still I couldn’t wait to get out of class so I could stuff six chocolate bars, a dozen donuts and a pack of twizzlers down my throat. The energy, and body work was effective for what it offered, the modalities opened up my channels, balanced my energies and carried me to the land of bliss connecting me with spirit, still, it was not enough.

I was not getting it, I thought I had a solid understanding of the body/mind/spirit connection; I had faith in spirituality, I accepted that we are more than our physical bodies, I meditated, I affirmed, I believed.

What I now get, that I didn’t get then, is that I was continually seeking the answers from outside of myself, I was suppressing my emotions, disassociating from my body, I had little sense of interoception or proprioception, and embodied self-awareness was not even in my radar.

Alan Fogel, in his book, The Psychophysiology of Self-Awareness, offers the following descriptions:

Suppression: A lack of embodied self-awareness that occurs whenever there is a sense of threat that prevents us from finding resources, slowing down, and/or coregulating with an empathic other.

Pathological Disassociation: A disconnection between self and body having two basic forms: detachment and compartmentalization.

Interoception: The ability to feel one’s own internal body states such as heat/cold, pain, respiration and emotions.

Proprioception: The felt sense of the location and relative position of different parts of the body in relation to objects and to other individuals.

Embodied Self-Awareness: the ability to pay attention to ourselves, to feel our sensations, emotions, and movements on-line, in the present moment, without the mediating influence of judgmental thoughts.

When I began to trust, sense, and feel – when I brought body awareness into the equation of my inquiry – I could then move into the layers of myself that exist beyond the patterns of my own brain. I learnt how to drop below my defense strategies, inspiring new movements in my body, relationships and life. I continue to journey with this spiral of exploration, with my body being the guide. I welcome the self-referencing, the self-regulating, and the self-responsibility that increases my ability to embrace, love and honour myself.

Loving the way one looks is really an externalization of what one is experiencing inside – this is what our reflections are truly showing us. How we perceive ourselves is dependent upon what emotions are alive and thriving, what patterns of belief are being held, and what vulnerabilities have been inherited. It is our willingness to move into our bodies, feel our emotions, and transform our stories, that provide us with the divine waters in which we can dive into the depths of self love.

~Angela began her exploration of alternative healing practices in her twenties, leading her to become certified in Reflexology, Touch For Health and Reiki. Seeking a more body-centered practice and inspired by her love of dance and movement, she turned to the study and teachings of World Dance. It was her journey into the body that showed her how we hold our biographies in our tissues. Her curiosity for healing these stories led her to become an authorized teacher of Continuum Movement. She continues to study with Continuum founder, Emilie Conrad. Angela is weaving the tools of Vividly Woman’s Embodiment Coach Training to her present practice. She currently teaches in Victoria, the Gulf Islands and the Dominican Republic.

For more information visit www.Angelathurston.com

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Planned Imperfection

 

 

I have an amazing painting at my house that is done in the encaustic style. Beeswax is melted and applied to the canvas and there is also some pigment. The artist must work quickly to work with the wax as it hardens. My painting is a black and white portrait of a woman gazing wistfully upward. It is extremely well done, almost perfect, save for one feature. The artist, Bigoudi, always lets some of the wax and paint drip down the canvas, on purpose. She told us that she lets this happen in all of her paintings, to remind us that life is imperfect and so is art and that it keeps us real, just like her paintings. I love that she is not striving for perfection, she is striving for art and beauty and story.

I was reminded of my painting today because of another experience. I have been trying out a new way of eating to see if I can “rearrange” some parts of me that have caused me grief for many years. The regime is quite strict and I was lamenting to my husband that I have lost my enthusiasm for it. I love nutrition and food and am always learning about what is on the cutting edge of information. I have experimented with many different styles of eating and tend to jump in with both feet, into wildly drastic change. Of course, I tire of the structure and abandon it when I feel too deprived. I have learned that feeling deprived is one of the worst ways I can feel. There is nothing juicy about deprivation!

So anyways, I was mentioning to my husband that I was feeling deprived and my enthusiasm was waning, even though I was seeing results after only two weeks. He replied that of course I felt this way, I was trying to do the shift “perfectly”. He suggested that if I were a little more lenient and gentle with myself that I would probaly feel better and less deprived. I have not been one for breaking many rules in my life, although I am learning that not all rules are good rules. So, the last few days, I have planned for some imperfection. Nothing really major, but just some little moments where I purposefully eat what I am not supposed to. So long Good Girl, I am having a blueberry today! How clandestine! You may laugh, and I do too, but it is actually a really big deal. I have never before planned for imperfection. It is really liberating.

Today I was at a health food store with my 7 year old daughter, Zoe, and there were samples out on the counter. I gave her a tiny piece of banana bread and then took a little forbidden square of pleasure for myself. My daughter raised an eyebrow and a big smile grew on her face. She declared, “Good for you Mommy!” She knew I had just broken a rule and that it was a big deal. She likes to follow the rules too, so I feel like I set a really good example today. Definitely not the original vision I had for myself when I was a new mother, but infinitely better and more powerful. I am teaching her that a little fun never hurt anyone, that being gentle with ourselves is a great investment and that planned imperfection can be really, really liberating.

I am so grateful for the lesson I learned from my gorgeous painting. The black drips run down the stark white canvas in places where they shouldn’t be. They are reminders that imperfection leads to deep, deep perfection within because when we accept ourselves for who we are and know that “I am enough”, life becomes infinitely beautiful and fun.

PS Although it pains me to do so, I left a spelling mistake in the 3rd paragraph, at my insightful husband’s suggestion.

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