By Ruth Lera
Recently I have been seeing photos of women showing their legs, their bellies, their faces sans make-up, all over the internet being touted as brave.
And although I understand that in a society filled with photo-shopped images of lean torsos and plump deep-red lips, this honest display of what is perceived as flawed bodies is considered bold and vulnerable, it also makes no sense to me because, to me, reality is the only way.
The working definition of suffering I use is “…wanting things to be different than they are.”
So, as long as our bodies are supposed to look different, and our minds are supposed to think different, and our whole life is supposed to be different, we will be trapped on the hamster wheel of wanting different.
Therefore, the end of suffering lies in the acceptance of reality.
What really send us down the rabbit hole of misery is the constant fantasizing to the tune of “When I get this, or become that, or make this much money my life will be good.” The good news is that there is only one place we can experience happiness. It is now, in reality, in our flabby tummies and double chins and bumps and bruises inside and out.
So, although I appreciate women’s bravery in showing themselves to the world just as they are as a statement of honesty and not wanting to hide anymore, really, what is there to show? We are all living in human bodies that will decay and wrinkle and eventually decompose. All of us!
This is what the Buddha was trying to tell us.
This is why I think embracing our bodies, just as they are, looks like really living in them. It means being mindful, which means noticing the body and experiencing the body without judgement or opinion, without deciding it is a good body or a beautiful body or an ugly body or a functional body or a weak body or a whatever body. But instead just really being in the body and seeing the body, just as it is, without imagining the body as it will be next week or next month or in five years from now or ten years earlier.
This is reality.
Recently, I went to a terribly difficult Pilates class that kicked my ass. It really hurt…and I loved it! I loved feeling my body, loved all the sensations there were to experience. The room was filled with trim, fit bodies and I struggled along, feeling in love with the sensations and movement. Not that they were graceful or beautiful movements, with my pants riding down and my shirt riding up and everything hanging out when it “should” have been tucked in. I was just in love with sensation and being able to feel and being able to notice.
This is true embodiment, of the moment, of the body, of all experience.
Unfortunately, this isn’t something that can be captured in a photo to be posted on Facebook or sent around on Instagram. Or maybe this is fortunately, because who would want to, since mindful experiences of the body are deeply personal and a solo experience…and I hope some come to you today.
Ruth Lera is the friend you turn to when your world has gone all topsy-turvy. Not because she tells you it’s all going to be alright but because she reassures you that not being alright is just part of the whole process of being human. And she might even give you some ideas about how to feel better, too. Find her at her website, her Facebook page or Twitter.
Editor: Marcee Murray King