Would you like to know the best kept secret to very confidently enjoying your body no matter what your age and condition? The answer is shockingly simple, but shocking nonetheless:
Live Life Naked!
You may have forgotten it, but there was a time you lived fully, freely, and with great exhilaration in your body. It was a time when everything you tasted was distinct and fascinating, everything you saw was amazing, everything you touched felt unique, and everything you sensed told you how alive you were. Your body was a finely tuned instrument probing and absorbing all it encountered, ravenously consuming all that you perceived, and saturating you with satisfaction. You couldn’t wait to get up each morning and literally take in the day. You were living life naked, filling your self with nourishing experiences and fresh discoveries.
It was a time before you got lost in a mirror.
How long has it been since you lived life from inside of your body instead of inside a mirror looking back at your body? How long has it been since you lived naked instead of wearing a self-image?
Most women can remember such a turning point in their lives: You found yourself standing before a mirror and realized that what you saw had a great hold on you. There was a glimmer of recognition that over time, as you had looked at your reflection, you had increasingly begun seeing yourself as you anticipated others would see you, assessing whether your friends would like or dislike what you were wearing, whether your hair was in fashion, whether your breast size and thigh circumference were desirable. You had figured out that you could angle for more positive reception by changing your appearance. You had collected images and messages from everyone and everywhere, created a collage of what was good, got attention, avoided criticism, made a statement, attracted others, kept you out of trouble or got you in trouble—whatever created the outcome you desired in order to feel secure, happy, or powerful.
And now, here you were, standing before the mirror but your perception is actually situated inside the mirror rather than inside your body. You have become trapped in the mirror.
Although it is a necessary development for each of us to become aware of how we are perceived by others, this is a terribly risky developmental stage for girls. We can become like Alice in “Through The Looking Glass,” falling into a reflected version of ourselves, captured as permanent prisoners of an alternate world--a world where appearance trumps sensation, beauty codes dictate our value, and the self-image police take up residence inside our heads, running a nonstop litany of negative propaganda aimed to keep us trapped in the mirror.
Two Keys to Freedom
Alice found her way out of the looking glass by capturing the Red Queen and putting the King in checkmate. This caused her to wake up! For us, finding freedom from the looking glass involves discovering the Queen and King within and returning them to their noble roles. Our inner Queen and King hold the two keys to our freedom.
First, we must wake up to the fact that our self-image is not who we are. We are not the two-dimensional image we see in the mirror nor are we the one we have created in our minds. We are not even our bodies. We are the awareness that perceives through the mysterious, amazing portal we call “body.”
Waking up means returning to our natural way of being by allowing the wisdom of our bodies to be their main function. Rather than being something on which to hang a self-image, we get naked and directly focus on life: feeling, sensing, touching, listening, perceiving, looking from inside out rather than outside in. If practiced consistently we will recapture the regal nature of our bodies, trusting our inner perceptions more than the outward reflections, listening carefully to what our bodies tell us rather than ignoring and devaluing the immense wisdom inherent within them. This kindness, self-acceptance, and physical attunement will allow us to know and feel our queenly nature, inherently kind, naturally wise, and at home in her kingdom, her own skin.
Second, we must escape the tyranny of the self-image police, those critical voices that hound us, insisting that we put on an ever better self-image and attempting to shame us into submission. We must call upon the strength of our inner kingly nature, that voice of guidance that adamantly knows that our bodies, not the mirror, are our best sources of information and truth. From this benevolent attitude, we listen to and honor our bodies, defending them from judgment, excess, and harm of all kinds. When our kingly nature is seated and rules our choices, the image police are transformed into wise protectors, keeping us out of danger, away from self-destructive choices, devaluing comparisons, and unrealistic expectations.
Fully “seating” the inner King and Queen frees us to live in our bodies, no longer trapped in the mirror.
So, go ahead and get naked.
Take off your self-image.
Seat yourself on your inner throne.
Enjoy the bounty of body wisdom and perception!