This week, the featured post is authored by Jim Herbert. Jim is a father, husband, yogi, mystic, storyteller, teacher and coach. You can learn more about Jim and The MindSmith Academy at JamesHenryHebert.com
Last week on Friday as I was leaving the health club after a good workout, I noticed how unusually tired my legs were feeling. The locker room of this particular health club happens to be in the basement, so in a somewhat comical sense of irony, I always have to climb two flights of stairs to get out of the club after cooling down and cleaning up. When I got back up to the lobby after climbing the stairs, I started muttering to myself under my breath about “my darn tired old legs.”Unfortunately my muttering caught the attention of a nice gentleman sitting in one of the chairs scrolling through his phone.
“Everything okay?” he politely asked. His question caught me a bit off guard, but I could tell that he was inquiring about my well being out of a sense of support and courtesy as opposed to any sort of judgement. To another person, I might have looked the part of a raving lunatic talking to himself. I replied to the nice man by being 100% transparent and saying, “I’m just presently doing a really good job of NOT being kind to myself.” I went on to explain to him that I was actually talking to my legs and that even though I had just completed 40 minutes on the treadmill and some other weightlifting exercises, that I was somehow passing judgment on my legs for being too old and too tired. He nodded and indicated that he has a tendency to do the same thing with his body in general. We wished each other well and we both went about our days with a bit more awareness of self and the situation than we otherwise might have if we had never had our chance interaction.
As I walked out the door of the club onto the street, I decided that instead of complaining to my legs that they were too old and tired, that I would thank them for getting me around so well, even after I have relied on them so heavily for so many years. Decades of running, biking, yoga and martial arts in combination with jobs that always seemed to keep me on my feet have in many ways put 100 years of mileage on my legs in half the time. I told my legs that I had a nice epsom salt bath waiting for them at the end of the day as a reward for their faithful service. Wouldn’t you know it, for the rest of the day my legs were not one bit sore or tired. It was as if my gratitude created an instant shift in my energy and I reaped the benefits immediately and continuously.
When was the last time you had a loving conversation with one or all of your body parts? I’m serious! It’s not like you have to be all the way to the edge of living in a constant state of self-loathing to be much too critical and judgmental of the very vehicle you have chosen to house your spirit/soul. In my lifetime I have met almost nobody who was unconditionally in love with their own body.
I’ve never really considered myself as someone who has struggled with any sort of body dysmorphia issues like so many other people have, but I definitely spend way too much time thinking about what my body isn’t as opposed to what it is! I’ve never really liked my chin. My arms have always been a bit too thin for my liking. No matter how much I train, I can’t seem to flatten my belly as much as I would prefer. I’m a lot slower recovering from strenuous activity than I used to be when I was younger. One of my eyebrows sits lower than the other. The list in my mind goes on and on. I write at length about the power of gratitude in nearly every other aspect of life. Why can’t I just be grateful for the many blessings that my body has afforded me through the years and accept it as it is without condition after 59 years of amazing service?
So this past Saturday, I added another step to my morning and evening rituals. My rituals are the things that I do on an almost everyday basis to start and end my day, like prayer, breath work, mediation, gratitude, oracle work, etc. Some days I do lots of things and it takes me hours and other days I just pick one or two things because I’m in a hurry, but I ALWAYS make space for some kind of ritual to start and end my day. On Saturday morning this past week, the first thing after I got out of bed I stood in front on our full length mirror. I looked at my body from head to toe and expressed loving messages to every part of it….and you know what? It felt pretty darn good!
I’ve spent the better part of my time over the last three decades trying to make as much sense as I possibly can of my human AND my spiritual journeys. While the primary goal for me is to be at peace with my relationship with God/The Universe as it emanates through me from spirit, it certainly doesn’t hurt matters to show a little extra loving kindness to the vehicle that is driving on the course.
Of course this strategy of loving yourself can be applied to ALL aspects of self, but just for today, what would it look like if you acknowledged the part of your body you loved the least and not only accepted it as is, but also embraced it with your whole heart. As my daughter Emma might say, it’s a good day to love your “Head, shoulders, knees and toes…knees and toes…knees and toes!”If you are interested in learning more about how to incorporate ritual into your daily life through mindfulness, meditation or other practices, please reach out. I’m more than happy to help you figure out what might serve you best. Check out my website, https://www.jameshenryherbert.com/ if you would like more information about The Water of Life Men’s Community, other group programs, or the most recent episodes of the It’s About Life Podcast.