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The Depths of Self Love, By Angela Thurston

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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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Letter to My Mirror Reflection

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Dear Mirror Reflection,

Thank you for being you. You are you and I am me. Though we are certainly related, I am not you, and you are not me.

You are a 1 dimensional mirror image of me. I am a multidimensional living, breathing, feeling, sensing sacred temple of womanhood and Goddess essence. I’m happy that you can capture some of me and show me that in color, shape and shadow, but you will never be able to capture the truth of my soul. So while I may enjoy your contribution to my life, you are not an accurate depiction of me. I will not resource you for answers that I can only get from inside of myself. Even when I look to you to see how I look on the outside, I realize that your version of the truth is limited because you don’t have the capability to see inside of me.

Mirror Reflection, I realize that I often place a lot of responsibility on your shoulders when I ask you to tell me how I look, how to dress, or when I critique my body and my looks each time I look at you. Often you don’t get the best of me at all because when I look at you I belittle or judge myself. Here’s the thing: When I’m feeling poorly about myself, feeling like I’m not good enough, not loveable, not successful enough, etc, I often try to make up for what I lack on the inside by how I can make myself look on the outside. Then when, I check in with you to affirm that I look okay on the outside and I find myself lacking in that department too, it just makes everything worse. Those are the times that I just want to crawl in a hole and I feel so ashamed of myself. I would die if anyone knew how yucky I am feeling. In many ways you are my greatest confidant.

Dear mirror, I hate to say it, but you are actually very shallow. You are not a mirror of my soul essence, yet when I look at you I sometimes forget that. Also, for some reason, when I look at you I’m not able to see myself accurately. What I see is skewed by how I feel. I feel fat, I look fat. I feel ugly, I look ugly. But when I’m feeling great, well then you are my best friend because you mirror that back to me beautifully.

My request to you mirror reflection is this: when I look at you, remind me that you are only a reflection of the real me and as such I should remember not to take you so much to heart. It’s okay to look, but for every peek at myself in you I take, remind me to also look inside me for the real me. For every peek at myself in you I take, remind me that what others see of me is actually deeper than what is on the surface that you are able to show me. And for every peek I take remind me that what I contribute to this world goes way beyond what  I am able to make myself look like in the space between the frame that holds you up on the wall.

And one more thing, Mirror reflection: My calling as a women’s spiritual coach brings me into contact with so many women who are claiming their authentic power and Goddess essence from the inside out. You may be able to show us part of what we look like, but it is not anywhere close to the whole beings that we are. You will never be able to do this for us. The real women that we are can only be accessed from the inside.

Thanks for being you. I am not you and you are most certainly not me!

With love,

Leela

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