You know that old adage that says if you want the right answer, you first have to ask the right question? Well just over a month ago, my Nia Trainer friend, Maria Skinner, called me up with just one of those questions.
"Do you think we really teach people how to love their body?"
We talked about it for a few minutes and shortly thereafter I found myself propelled into a several week conversation with my own body, a conversation that has sent me down the rabbit hole of sensation to rediscover and remember how I came to the place where I could authentically say, "I love my body."
We use the phrase "Love Your Body" a lot in Nia marketing and classes. It's on t-shirts, flyers, bumper stickers, and for a long time was the signature statement people saw on the website. And yet more often than not, the path to loving the body needs more of an invitation than a command to "love" it.
When I look back at my relationship with my body, I see that loving it was ignited first and foremost by falling in love with how my body felt, which, on the most basic level, came from sensing it. Body awareness did not come easily though–I had to consciously slow down, drop down, and learn how to pay attention to sensation. From this place of getting out of my head and into sensation, I inadvertently fell in love with my body's design and shape–this incredibly complex thing we call "body image". I sought only to love being in my body and the fact that I received so much more than I anticipated is a real blessing. Moving from the inside out has proven to be the gift of self-love that keeps on giving, since my body's shape and health fluctuates over time and across my life.
To say I love my body means so much more than any superficial association. I love my body for how it supports and energizes me at every single second. I love my body for teaching me self-compassion and deep presence. I love my body for every sensation it provides me–even the painful ones that attempt to capture my attention. Most of all, I love my body because it's mine. It is the vehicle that makes this journey and dance through life possible, and for that I am grateful.
There are infinite paths one can take to reach a place of body gratitude and self-love. No matter which path(s) a person chooses, all roads involve the awareness of sensation in some format.
So to answer Maria's question...
No, I don't think I teach people how to fall in love with their body. What I believe I offer–and what I seek to provide always– are invitations for people to fall in love with sensation–with the simple yet profound act of sensing their body.
More and more, I have discovered that falling in love with sensation is like a "secret back door" into loving the body. It's a subtler, welcoming invitation that is always present and offers a type of love that is unconditional, one that requires no fixing or alteration of the body in order to love and appreciate it.