Compassion Toward Your Precious Body

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To- Do List: 1) Give yourself a big hug! Wrap your loving arms around yourself and squeeze. Breathe. Let it all out. Whisper, “I love you.” (2) Find a mirror. Any size. Look into your eyes. Say, “Hello, gorgeous!” (3) Turn on a favorite song. Move any way you wish, from a sway to head-banging or anything in between. If you’re an introvert, dance like nobody’s watching. If you’re an extrovert, dance like everybody’s watching. (4) Write the Universe a thank you note. (5) Sit still or lie down in a quiet space and breathe slowly in and out for at least five minutes. On the inhale, think “I am.” On the exhale, think, “enough.”

Other than ending up feeling good, why should you do these things? Well, your brain is listening. And, it believes you. Far too often, especially in Western culture, we live in a near-constant state of self-criticism and perceived lack. This is toxic. It harms us and the negativity radiates outward to others.

That phrase “I’m only hurting myself”? Not true.

Compassion begins at home. Compassion AKA loving kindness begins within and toward your own body, your very being. It is difficult, if not impossible to be authentically kind and non-judgmental toward others if you are harsh and critical toward yourself. Mood is not a light switch so easily thrown. Habits of thought show up in habits of speech.

Many spiritual and religious traditions recognize this connection between compassion for self and compassion for others. Christianity, for example, teaches “love your neighbor as you love yourself; there is no greater commandment” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yogic philosophy at its very base is rooted in ahimsa, a commitment to non-violence and compassion. It recognizes the absolute necessity of self-love, self-care and self-acceptance before one can relate honestly, openly and kindly with the external world. For those who fear the label or the state of narcissism, self-love is a baseline, not a state of total absorption to the exclusion of others’ interests.

When we are unkind to ourselves, we are less likely to be consistently kind to others. If our behavior towards ourselves is punitive, neglectful or outright abusive in thought, word or deed, that does not bode well for our health or for our relationships with others.

We all can slip into bad habits of speech and thought, leading into bad habits of action or inaction. “God, I am so fat.” “I look so old.” “I’m terrible; I don’t have any willpower.” “I’m past it.” The culture often encourages these unkind assaults. There is big money in self-loathing. When we are discontented and disliking of our very selves, we are vulnerable to the promise of a product that can ease the pain quickly — have a drink!– or something that compounds the pain by punishing our unworthy, failed bodies — feel the burn!

It doesn’t have to be like that.

LUVMVMT® exists to encourage and empower self-love through movement, which the human body both craves and needs. You will not be measured, weighed or judged. Come as you are. As you truly are, right now. The joy of movement is your birthright. Strength, balance, flexibility and coordination make the journey of life easier. They also reduce the likelihood of accident, injury or strain that so often assault a body that has been abandoned or neglected. Movement that expresses your feelings and their many shades allows your spirit to take flight. Today is the day to re-claim your birthright. Love Movement. Love Life. Love Yourself.

Author: DancerAndDasher

Ballroom dancer. Yoga teacher. Belly dance fitness instructor. LUVMVMT® introduces an expressive movement program centered around self-love and self-care. Elements of ballroom, yoga, belly dance and bodyweight strength training are joined in a fun 45-minute group class called a LUV-In or in 90-minute private sessions. I also offer classes and private coaching devoted to yoga and to lifestyle coaching called LUV Yo'Lean. The LUVMVMT umbrella covers most of my recent writing. I have also shared my personal dance and yoga journeys on the following blogs: "Diary of a Mad Dancer" is my journey to the competition floor of glamorous dancesport. Yes, it's a tale that probably should have begun with dance-mad parents urging on their darling lass of three, in Europe. Instead: Virginia, suburbia, mid-life. It's a dream come true. Sometimes with all the logic and consistency of a slumbering mind. "Dance of Life Yoga" shares the beauty, peace and awareness that yoga can bring into your life. It transformed mine in ways I never anticipated.

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