Overhaul Your Body Image with Ahimsa

Uncategorized May 03, 2017

This moon at Ondalu we've been studying Ahimsa with our bodies and our food. Ahimsa is the practice of Peace.

When we resist something, it tends to grow stronger. Think of the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on Crime, the War on Terror, the War on Obesity. All of these problems are expanding despite our war against them. Yoga's wisdom of Ahimsa provides an active path to peace that allows us to harmonize with what we DO want instead of waging war against what we don't. When used for body image, we have a practice that transforms us from self-destruction to deep self-love.

For many of us, food and body image are daily battlegrounds full of resistance and strife. The more we push against ourselves, the more emotional eating, dieting, purging exercise (or for some, food), take hold. If you've waged war on yourself with diets or extreme exercise regimes, you've missed the essential healing truth that could set you free in the first place: YOU ARE ALREADY PERFECT RIGHT NOW. You have never stepped off of your path, and your body as it is today is a gift to experience and appreciate in this moment even if it offers pain or isn't your ideal. You don't have to get to perfect before you can experience the miracle of your perfect self. This is the gem that I have missed out on for decades of self-judgment. It is embedded in the practice of Ahimsa toward yourself. Let's explore that further!

Ahimsa teaches that peace is an act in present time, and how we choose to be in this here and now will expand into our next experiences. Being in loathing or denial expands loathing and denial. Have you ever eaten a low-grade food to match a low-grade feeling? Being in peace and appreciation ripples into healing. Think of a time you were enjoying life to the fullest and food was colorful and clean and enjoyable. I'm picturing my yoga teacher training in Hawaii! All I wanted to do was make and share clean food with everyone to celebrate how happy I was. By making peace with ourselves as we actually are in this moment, we can gently face our realities with love. We end cycles of violence towards ourselves through food or negative self-image, and shift into the gratitude of our one precious body. From there Peace is possible in other areas, but it has to start within. 

In my experience, Ahimsa is an ACTION word. You gain peace by applying ahimsa in PRACTICE. For some, it takes daily effort to overcome the patterns of violence that have accrued meal after meal, day after day. If you've earned a negative self-image over time, you can earn a positive one through Ahimsa in action. Here's how:

Every thought counts, and as you change your mind, your behaviors will follow. Use your eating as a moment to check in with your body and breath. Are you present? What subtle messages are you telling yourself? Without judgment, just use the moment you eat as a check in to learn about your patterns. Once aware, you become accountable to being positive and peaceful toward yourself. If that's not an easy shift, go deeper with the next step!
Sit up straight, put your feet flat on the floor, and relax into yourself. Allow your belly, the seat of joy in the body, to relax. Gently breathe into your belly. It goes out when you breathe in, it gently moves in as you breathe out. Now just notice what's happening throughout your body. Can you notice areas that hold resistance? Can you let those areas relax and let go? Once you are connected mindfully to your entire body and relaxed, you can imprint yourself with peace. You can do this by chanting a peace mantra like "Om Shanti Om" which connects you to the Seed Sound "Om" which originates all things, and "Shanti" which means "PEACE". You can also ask your body what it needs to hear and repeat that in a positive, present tense as if it is true for you here and now. It IS true here and now if you relax into the knowing you have within. If you did this for a few minutes each day, how would your life turn out differently?
When you are at peace with your body and your food choices, how do you act towards others? For me, I open up, have more energy, clarity, and light to offer. When I drop the conflicts within, I am more present and aligned with my larger purpose on the planet. It's been refreshing this month to practice Ahimsa when I eat. I've been eating more slowly, with presence, and finding myself choosing foods that match the peace I'm aligning with. 

Thank you for loving yourself as you are today. It is your gift to others to make peace with yourself and spread your inner light! I'd love to hear your thoughts on #ahimsawithfood. (check and share on Instagram and FB to take it deeper with me!)

In Peace,

Emily

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