Our bodies… the physical houses where we reside. How have we have become so estranged? How is it we cannot accept and treasure these amazing structures? The marvel of efficiency and function that keeps us moving, sensing, and regulating, day after day, with no conscious effort, is oddly the place we often inflict with our most viscous attack. We are bombarded with messages about how we should look, feel, and smell. Women learn that they have too much hair on their bodies and too little on their heads, we learn that we are too tall or too short, our proportions too this or too that. Men learn that they are not buff enough or are too short, and so on.

Perfectionism, negative self-rhetoric, and shame beset us. Whatever we are, in some way or another, we are wrong. This can range from mild concern about the shape or size of a body part, to full blown body dysmorphic disorder, where some aspect of your physical expression becomes the topic of intense preoccupation. A belief takes hold that your appearance is severely flawed and requires exceptional measures to hide or fix. These thoughts can become pervasive and intrusive, and interfere with quality of life.

Eating disorders, rash diets, and overexercise are all symptoms of a fundamental failure to accept and fully inhabit our bodies. Depression and anxiety often accompany this experience, as can the impulse to self harm, and the division between self and body grows and grows.

But it is in the body-mind connection that healing and growth most powerfully occur. In learning to tend and nurture your body, you learn to tend and nurture yourself. In learning to accept your body, listen to it, and honour it, you extend the same gifts to yourself. Every location in which we live is rich in yoga, pilates, martial arts, and many other body-centric practices that we can engage to bring ourselves into a more peaceful unity. Greater body awareness facilitates a sense of ease and well-being in your own skin. It is our bodies, after all, that provide that frail membrane between life and death. Let us accept and celebrate them in all their unique imperfections and marvellous capabilities.