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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Celebrate the Body

CelebrateCelebrating the body helps to get us in tune with the mind and soul, and brings these three important aspects of ourselves in sync with one another.

I have mentioned celebrating the body under the umbrella of improving ourselves, and that it incorporates indulging in regular good food, laughter, and making love with the one you love. Achieving this state of body-based bliss is healthy for you. For example, laughter is thought to be a natural way to boost levels of serotonin, the hormone which is linked to the prevention of depression and therefore the long-term health of the brain.

Such indulgence is not a sin. It's an involvement with your own body, that will bring satisfaction in other areas of your life and raise your self-esteem.

Transforming a Negative Body Image

Celebrating the body is more than just moderate indulgence of your senses. It's also about transforming the negative body image our community can give us, and to learn to be happy in who we are.

This doesn't mean we shouldn't want to improve ourselves, quite the opposite, being happy with who we are will give us the wisdom to know what we can change and accept those things we cannot. More importantly, if we're comfortable with ourselves, the need to change will come because we want to really improve, and not because we wish to confirm to society's current form of beauty of what a body should look like.

And that means we'll be changing for the better, and for the right reasons.

Love Your Body

It seems like I'm stating the obvious, but we live inside our bodies. We are our bodies. It's with us all of the time, so why not choose to love and celebrate it right now?

We should be our body's best friend. Praise it. Congratulate it. Soothe it. Really listen to it: it's talking to us all of the time.

We should understand that we can only choose what we already have, and that we have to celebrate our body as it is, because it's a celebration of our uniqueness. If we stand tall and greet the world with this balanced posture, we're giving our life the respect it deserves, because we're signalling to everyone we feel proud to be alive in our body.

I renew a pact with myself every day to treat my body with respect. The mass media doesn't dictate to me what I should like.

For example, physical activity does centre largely in my life, but not because I want to conform to some popular body shape. My goal is to improve my physical health and to look after my body, because I respect the house I live in.

And because I carry out an exercise regime for the working benefits to my body, and not its appearance, keeping it in good condition is just another way of celebrating it's existence.

My Top Ways to Celebrate the Body

The daily way I celebrate my body is through exercise.

Interestingly enough, when I was a conscript in the army*, I discovered that army training is very beneficial to this celebration of the body. I realised the physical discipline provided for the soldiers was excellent training, and incorporated into my own personal daily exercise some of the movements I was taught in the army. It's the perfect strength building regime to partner my tai chi exercises.

However, keeping fit is only one of my ways to celebrate being in this most unique of houses. I name all ten points of "my guide" below. Try some of them out, or invent your own.

  1. Respect your body. Do this by practising a sound nutritional and fitness regimen that stretches and strengthens all of you.
  2. Stretch your mind and body. Whatever form of exercise you choose, make sure it includes relaxation and time to rejuvenate your thoughts.
  3. Indulge your body and soul. Host a private 'indulgence party' and feed your body through your soul. Wear whatever makes you feel good and serve delicious, decadent foods or silly snacks without the guilt. Make it a day for yourself and yourself only. We communicate with others, but often forget to communicate with ourselves. Hang up your phone and log out of your instant messenger. Just spend the day looking in the mirror and exploring your body. Once the celebration is over you'll realise that you learn something new about yourself every time.
  4. Indulge on your own terms. Whether it's fresh vegetables from your own garden, or a large portion of vanilla fudge ice cream, celebrating your body is also about loving your taste buds every once in a while. Research food and different tastes, and get to learn about what we put into our bodies.
  5. Laugh freely. This is an action that will do your body some good. Don't be afraid to show the world your smile. It's contagious. Not everyone is comfortable with laughing out loud, but always remember to smile and make genuine eye contact, with others and yourself in the mirror. You'll start to like yourself more.
  6. Spend time with your family. Whether it's a pet or partner, your spouse or a sibling, quality time is a must-have in nurturing relationships which in turn nurture and love your body.
  7. Have safe sex. Celebrating your own body makes you an expert in celebrating that of others. However, having safe sex with a chosen partner works two-fold. Firstly, because loving our bodies is about keeping them healthy and free from diseases, and secondly because love should be about trust and respect. If we are going to bring someone along to this celebration, let it be someone that matters.
  8. Listen to positive music. Developing a theme song for your day can do wonders for your body esteem and your overall outlook, and you can incorporate it in all areas of your life. Make love to music. Exercise to music. Or just dance and sweat for the heck of it.
  9. Develop a creative outlet. Everyone needs a medium to express daily stress and frustrations constructively. Maybe you're a photographer, writer, poet or all three and you want to express yourself on a blog. Maybe you can knit, make shapes out of clay or finger paint. Maybe you just love to read. Loving your body is also about loving your mind.
  10. Honour you body's need for rest, sleep and down time. Go to a sauna to chill out, or get a massage.

You'll notice that my ten points are, in a way, a guide to help us take care of ourselves. That's because celebration equals appreciation. Once we realise what we have, we'll want to take the very best care of it; not to look good, or because some skinny model or muscular model is telling us this is what we need to have human worth, but simply because we are celebrating who we are.

We are human; beautifully, compellingly human.

Top picture The Sixties & Celebration, courtesy of Altman Photos.

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* As my parents are of Turkish Cypriot descent and I am, too, by birth, if I was to stay in Cyprus for long periods unhindered by legal red tape, I needed to do its national service. Suffice to say, because I've lived in England all my life, I was able to take advantage of a law that allows returning young expatriates to do their service in a considerable shortened period of time rather than the requisite 18 months. I've never faced military action, and no person could ever enjoy or wish that, but my time with army discipline was physically very fulfilling. Yet, I'm a believer of non-violent and peaceful resolutions, and hope one day our humanity will evolve so far as to negate the need for military armies.

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