The renowned 7th century Zen master Seng-tsan taught that true freedom is being "without anxiety about imperfection."
And there are few anxieties that plague women more than body image.
In Beautiful You by Rosie Molinary, she counsels that "when we are caught in the trance of unworthiness, we do not clearly recognize what is happening inside us, nor do we feel kind. Our view of who we are is contorted and narrowed and our heart feels hardened against life. As we lean into the experience of the moment -- releasing our stories and gently holding our pain or desire -- radical acceptance begins to unfold. The two parts of genuine acceptance -- seeing clearly and holding our experience with compassion - are as interdependent as the two wings of a great bird. Together, they enable us to fly and be free."
"Through the sacred art of pausing, we developed the capacity to stop hiding, to stop running away from our experience. The poet Rumi saw clearly the relationship between our wounds and our awakening. He counseled, "don't turn away. Keep your gaze on the bandaged place. That's where the light enters you." When we look directly at the bandaged place without denying or avoiding it, we become tender toward our human vulnerability."
"It can give us confidence to remember that the Buddha nature that is our essence remains intact, no matter how lost we may be."
Here's a great pledge she wrote to attach to your bathroom mirror:
The Body Warrior Pledge:
Because I understand that my love and respect for my body are metaphors of the love and respect for myself and soul, I pledge:
- To stop berating my body and to begin celebrating the vessel that I've been given. I will remember the amazing things my body has given me: the ability to experience the world with a breadth of senses, the ability to perceive and express love, the ability to comfort and soothe, and the ability to fight, provide, and care for humanity.
- To understand that my body is an opportunity not a scapegoat.
- To be the primary source of my confidence. I will not rely on others to define my worth.
- To let envy dissipate and allow admiration to be a source of compassion by offering compliments to others.
- To gently but firmly stand up for myself when someone says something harmful.
- To change the inner monologue in my head to one that sees possibilities not problems, potential not shortcomings, blessings not imperfections.
- To give my body the things that it needs to do its work well: plenty of water, ample movement, stretches, rest, and good nutrition, and to limit or eliminate the things that do not nurture my body.
- To see exercise as a way to improve my internal health and strength instead of way to fight or control my body.
- To understand that my weight is not good or bad. It is just a number, and I am only good.
- To love my body and myself today. I do not have to weigh 10 pounds less, have longer hair, or have my degree in my hand to have worth. I have worth just as I am, and I embrace that power.
- To recognize my body's strengths.
- To no longer put off the things that I wish to experience because I am waiting to do them in a different body.
- To understand that a body, just like a personality, is like a fingerprint: a wonderful embodiment of my uniqueness.