When Your Body Doesn't Feel Beautiful

It happened again. 

But this time I was 15 stories up peering out over miles and miles of shimmering blue waters in front of me. The morning sun was soft and gauzy, and the sounds of the ocean sang a soothing tune that echoed on my heart. I was flowing through yoga poses and carefully twisting my body when the sabotage began yet again.

"You fatass."

"What if you just keep gaining?"

"Look at you. How could you let this happen?" 

It was back.

The same lurking thoughts that threatened to sabotage me last time I was in this beachside paradise. 

It wasn't altogether a surprise to me, but I honestly felt like I had been managing it. Like I had been mindfully and lovingly taking steps to sink into the truth and gingerly release each time all the yuck charged. 

Earlier that morning during meditation, I had actually heard my body's consciousness whisper to me. In between my own cries for help and my chronic frustration about the relentless mental assault on my physical form, she had been clear and loving.

"Twist, Kayla. Nurture your spine. Stop seeing the layers and honor your core."

So with tears welling in my eyes, I had faithfully and dutifully obeyed.

I made my way to our balcony, slipped past the chaos of the husbands and the kids and stood on our vacation condo patio for what quiet me-time I could steal. My favorite instrumental music quietly crooned from the phone perched beside me as the sounds of squealing kids lapped at my back.

With arms stretched overhead I bent my legs and slid down into chair pose. My knees groaned in approval, and I steadied my gaze at the edge of the green-and-white-striped towel acting as a makeshift yoga mat. I felt a physical stirring in my body, and then a tingle of emotion trickled down my spine. 

And as I twisted and bent and stretched with miles of ocean in front of me, I felt the thread showing itself again. I felt the onslaught of the assault, and I thought to myself,

"How is it that I can see all this beauty in front of me, but I can't see past this one blind spot in my own heart?"

It's funny how the mind is capable of segmenting our lives in this way. You would think that if a person experienced the amount of sheer bliss and ecstasy as I have that she would feel at home in her own skin.

Not so much.

This relationship with my body is undeniably the achilles heel to this whole perfect life I've conjured for myself. It is the guru in charge of filing down the rough edges of my heart, and let me tell you, it's a motherfucker. 

I desperately want to tell you something bright and cheery about how I'm working through it. How I'm juicing and cleansing, and running and meditating, and stretching and crunching, and flowing through yoga pose after yoga pose. Which I am. All of it. But the truth is that I am also hurting.

But what I'm seeing is that pain is this clever teacher that forces us into surrender.

I remember some of the most painful moments in my life. Deaths. Breakups. Betrayals. Major fucking life transitions. And the one thing they all had in common is the quotient of surrender that washed over me in those deepest darkest moments. Most of the tears cried for each of those experiences were shed while curled on the floor or buried under mounds of blankets. 

Broken. Cracked wide open. Surrendered. Crushed.

And when your heart is crushed, you suddenly lose the capacity to worry about the small stuff. You dial in on the must-haves to get you through. Must breathe. Must sleep. And sometimes it passes quickly, but most often it takes a little while. Because what I'm learning about surrender is that it can sometimes be excruciatingly slow (and annoyingly redundant.)

But here's the other thing about surrender. It all but forces you to find something good to hang onto.

Because when you're peering up from rock bottom, the only thing you can see amongst the darkness are the glints of light. It isn't even so much a practice as a reflex. And so I watch as the reflex unfolds in my own heart and mind. 

I feel my bulging waist. And I breathe. And I smile with tears welling as I look upon my beautiful, glowing daughter. I say a prayer that her body will truly be her play-place, her temple, her friend.

I feel heavy across my hips. And I breathe. And as I choke back tears, I touch the crystal hanging from my neck and whisper a word of gratitude for how much better my life has been since finding the Divine. 

I feel the heaviness of my breasts spilling out over my bra. And I breathe. And as I swallow down the lump in my throat, I gaze up at the mountains and remember what is real and what is not. That I have air in my lungs and legs that can run and a tribe who loves me. 

I feel the tears spill down my skin. And I breathe. And I remember that no matter what the mind tells me, or what society tries to force upon me, or what my clothes incite in me, life is sweet. 

When my body doesn't feel beautiful, I'm learning to look around until I find that beauty around me.

And then I remember that if I can behold it, I too possess it. And I breathe.