By Carrie Renee • October 30, 2018
I look in the mirror many times a day. When I slow down and get curious about what it is that I’m looking for, it is often in the realm of acceptability.
Am I looking presentable, beautiful, ready? Is there anything I can improve?
My investigation becomes more specific: do I have bags under my eyes? How is my butt in these pants? Is my belly pooching out? Oh, and now grey hairs!
Down to the details, I am searching multiple times a day for my value in my appearance…and I’m sick of it. I simultaneously feel a compulsion and an aversion to this habit. This has been programmed into me from before I can remember.
How I look is important.
Please don’t think this is an absolute. I actually enjoy adorning myself, pampering myself, feeling like my body and my expression are worth my time and energy. I love playing with clothes, make up, and jewelry as an ever-changing expression of who I am.
That’s not what this article is about, though. This article is about unraveling the entrenched conditioning--that the way I look equates to how lovable I am.
It can be hard to tell them apart. Am I enjoying the adorning and pampering because I have been taught by culture that it’s expected? Most certainly.
Still, it feels helpful in this part of my life and this part of my journey to name that there are parts of tending to my appearance that feel fun and expansive and there are parts that feel limiting and repressive.
Do you relate? How many times do you look in the mirror each day? What are you looking for? What are the markers for acceptability? What are the messages that you tell yourself and are you consciously aware of them?
For me, scanning my physical shape, face, and hair for approval multiple times a day is most certainly damaging. It most certainly takes me away from knowing who I am on the inside and using that me to move through the world and to orient myself in relationship.
This conditioning runs so deep. Thirty-nine years as a female on this planet and I honestly don’t know how to relate to the world without some measure of my physical beauty. It is always there.
And I don’t expect it to go away. It feels almost impossible.
What does feel possible is that I can choose to again and again commit to reorienting my compass back to me--the true me--the me that is beyond form.
This becomes both easier and harder as I age. I am both in a reckoning with the changes and in a forced surrender. It’s both beautiful--a kind of reuniting with Self--and also very hard, living in a world that reveres youth and sexual attract-ability.
I share all this with you not to just “Dear Diary” into your email inbox, but to offer you some of my own vulnerability and to point to the common illusion in which many of us find ourselves.
My external presentation is a measure of my worth and lovability.
Ugh. It hurts just typing that.
And in some ways, because our culture is so strongly oriented in this direction, it is an all too common experience. Some things we cannot control.
What we can control, and what I want to inspire in you and in myself, is to focus on our own personal measure and orientation. How am I talking to myself? How do I know if I’m lovable? From where do I move? And the real kicker…Who am I? Am I the hair, the beauty, the outfit, the presentation?
I am me, the unfathomable, evolving, radiant me. Beyond body. Beyond age. Beyond cultural norms. Can I love me just the way I am? Can I look at my body and say “Thank you” (and mean it) over and over and over again?
It is a reprogramming, and, for me, it takes practice and commitment.
As we approach Solsara Part II: The Practice, the awareness of exposure amplifies for me. At The Practice, we offer participants the invitation to undress down to their most human form, the naked physical body. We drop even more layers of illusion and separation and show up unhidden, to be seen and to see others. It’s the ultimate “mask” removal. (To read more about this exercise, click HERE and scroll to the bottom)
Humans are disgusting and beautiful all at once. We were all young and we all (if we’re lucky) get old. Life shows itself on our physical form and life is a wild ride! This is one of the most miraculous parts of being human, though! We get to transform through this body.
Can I stand before you and let go of hiding my cellulite, resist the urge to stand at a flattering angle, stop sucking in my belly and just let you really see me. This is terrifying and liberating. All at once, the physical exposure touches the emotional exposure and the opportunity to let go of control emerges, and, although vulnerable as heck, permission to JUST FUCKING BE ME arises on the other side.
Stop managing. Stop hiding.
Just. Be. Me.
It’s a powerful experience, and one that has impacted my sense of self and space every time. “I get to be me” rings louder through my skin. “I can be seen without the managing and I’m still lovable” sinks into my bones. I get to feel the rawness of just being a freakin’ human in a body, perfectly flawed.
Whether you’re joining us for The Practice or not, you hold a similar invitation each and every time you look in the mirror. Can you stop hiding, assessing, and managing your body and just simply love it? Can you see yourself for who you are and choose love, commit to yourself, allow yourself to be seen, and actively unravel the harmful conditioning of cultural beauty standards?
Who are you beyond this body? Can you set your “value” compass to that and move into life from there?