What I want my daughters to know about their bodies
I am just now realizing and learning things about my body that I wish someone had taught me when I was younger and that I want my daughter’s to know much earlier in their lives.Your body is an absolutely amazing thing. It can be your very best friend as it has so much to tell you. Your body isn’t something to be forced and pushed and beaten into submission. It is something to be cherished, appreciated, cared for and listened to. Your body can tell you immediately when danger is near. It can tell you when you are in love or when you are hurt or afraid or need to pay closer attention to something nearby. It can tell you when you are sad and depressed and when you need to make a change in your life. If you don’t listen to subtle messages it offers, than it will work so hard to get you to listen. You might have increased anxiety or even panic if you really need to do something different. Your body is like a compass that can direct your path if you care for it well. It can partner with God to house a spirit and help create a new body for your children. It knows how and when to do everything perfectly to give birth and to nourish a child. It can tell you the things to move toward and the things to move away from in your life. If I had known what my body could do for me I would have treasured it and cared for it more gently. I think back to all the years that I was critical of it, downright mean to it in my thoughts and actions. I think of times I felt critical of its need for a bit of extra weight or not looking just as I thought it should. I think of all the wonderful strength and energy it had that I often ignored and didn’t nurture by giving it more peaceful and healthy movement and strengthening. I think of all the days I got on the scale and frowned at it for some arbitrary desire for it to weigh a certain preconceived number of pounds. I think of times when I berated it for not being perfect or looking the way I wanted it to.
As I look back on my relationship with my body I can see that it has been so incredibly good to me. I am determined to care for it more gently and with more kindness, acceptance and love as it ages. No it doesn’t look perfect any more, and even when it did I didn’t appreciate it as I could have. But it is perfect still in its ability to care for me. It amazes me that it can heal up so quickly after I cut my finger or even have a part of my skull removed during brain surgery. My bones knit themselves together beautifully and my skin heals up. My body is strong and supportive of all the things I wish to do in my life like ride my horse and hike and swim. There are so many more things it is capable of doing if I give it the opportunity.
I realize that exercise and movement are not things I do to whip it into shape, but to serve it, nurture it, and offer it opportunity to be well and stay strong and fit. I don’t do these things to look a certain way, but to care for my body as the best friend that it is to me. I admit I still get on the scale at times but it is with more sensitivity to my need for strong bones and even perhaps a bit more patience for whatever time it takes for my body to shed extra weight from a not so perfect diet. I find it easier to make healthier food choices when I think of my body and what it needs from me to do its best job. I recognize when I eat poorly that my body feels anxious and has more trouble sleeping and feeling relaxed and content. It has to deal with the extra sugar causing it stress and inflammation. I take greater joy in giving it what it needs to function optimally.
I cannot help but see a pattern over my lifetime when my body has directed me by feelings in my gut and my chest, my throat and my heart area that let me know I need a change. I feel drawn to certain people and certain places and activities and am amazed that my body can sense so many things about the world that I didn’t know I knew. Every cell in my body is full of intelligence. My body holds the best of my ancestors and is healthiest when I treat it with kindness, acceptance, love and tolerance. Sometimes it is sad and hurt and afraid. If I listen to those feelings and stay present with them, breathe and be there with support and love and acceptance my body responds by letting go and coming back to the joy of this moment. As I strive to let go of the worry and regret of the past and the fear of the future and use my breath to bring me to this moment here and now, my body relaxes and tunes in to serving me again.
My dearest daughters, you also have in your cells a part of me and my incredible, over the top love for you. I held you and loved you and nurtured you with my heart bursting with love for you and your precious body, mind and spirit. My prayer is that you will treat yourself and your body in the same way, and that you will show your body kindness and gentleness that will allow it to serve you in its greatest capacity. Listen up to the things it can tell you.
Your body needs a soft resting place to come home to. Using your breath to calm your body and connect your body and mind will serve you well. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Breathing in I calm my body, breathing out I smile.” This simple meditation used several times a day gives your body a place of rest to restore its capacity.Treat it well my darlings and it will be your very best friend. When I am gone from this world I will still be with you in your cells. Do not listen to the world that tells you your body is about looking perfect. Your body is so much more than that and worthy of love through all its ages and stages.
With all my love,