How To Use Mindfulness To Improve Your Body ImageOct 21, 2022
Today’s post was written by guest author Gabby Jockers. Gabby is the owner of Embodied Art Boudoir. She offers boudoir photography for women and femmes on their journey for self-love.
We are all saddled with body image issues growing up, and even well into adulthood.
We live in a society that tries to sell us on the idea of an ‘ideal’ body, making it seem like the wide range of experiences and diversity we experience in our bodies is shameful.
But just because we’re surrounded by these messages, doesn’t mean we have to believe them.
You can choose something better for yourself, and if you’re reading this blog it’s likely because you DO want more for yourself. You want to feel at home in your body, confident, and self-respecting. You want to have a good body image!
Mindfulness is how I got there, it’s helped millions in the world for millennia, and I’m willing to bet it could help you too.
What’s mindfulness? In a nutshell, mindfulness is the practice of tuning into the present moment. Mindfulness acknowledges the fact that our minds race, we get distracted, and we get disconnected from our bodies and lives.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for healing body image & building confidence.
Because when you’re experiencing being in your body, you’re not thinking so much - it’s so much easier to tune out your inner critic.
And when that internal criticism quiets, it’s so much easier to accept your body, care for your body, and love your body.
Ready to heal your body image? Let’s get started!
Identify Your Thought Patterns
Let's begin there: with often our harshest critics, ourselves, and by examining our daily thoughts. Thoughts like, “yuck, my arms are so big,” or “why are my thighs so big?!,” are unproductive and upsetting.
By focusing inward, you can catch yourself when a negative thought about your body starts to creep in.
When it happens, slow down, and take a moment to breathe, gaining perspective with each breath. Remind yourself, with kindness, that thoughts are fleeting moments—they are not facts.
If you feel ready, you can invite a perspective shift, swapping the negative statements with one of body neutrality, such as, “my arms allow me to hug the ones I love,” or “my thighs help me explore new places.” This invites gratitude and appreciation for what you experience due to your body every single day.
Oftentimes, statements of neutrality are more accessible than proclamations of love. Most of us have a lot of body hate/shame trained into us by family, society, and media, that body love feels nearly impossible. Body neutrality lands somewhere in the middle, a safe space. Your energy is spent understanding the practical uses of what your body supports you in doing, instead of being spent changing or “improving” it.
A lot of women struggle with getting to a stage of loving their bodies. And guess what? That is okay! Body positivity isn’t for everyone, and you certainly aren’t a bad person for not being there. Nor are you a bad person for being there. Wherever you land on this scale, approach it with self-compassion and understanding.
Body Scans to Build Body Connection
This next tool is great as it’s one of the most accessible mindful techniques that bring attention to your body, as you mentally scan from toe to head, inviting calmness to the mind. It can be done whenever, but I suggest you try it when you're experiencing negative emotions toward your body.
Here's an exercise for you to try:
- Settle into a comfortable spot and begin to notice how you are feeling in the moment. Notice how your body feels, starting at your feet.
- Notice your toes, ankles, and legs, and continue moving upward toward your stomach, back, chest, and sides. Then, move to your hands, arms, and shoulders arriving at your neck, head, and finally, face. Ensure you are continuously breathing deeply.
- Where is your body the tensest? Are there areas of your body that are relaxed?
- As you scan, notice how your body relaxes, as you begin to feel less tense, just by taking a moment out of your day to mindfully relax.
- You can stop here, or invite thoughts about body image with the following prompts: Consider your own body image and think about your definition of body image. What does it mean to you?
- Next, begin to consider your thoughts or ideas about your own body. How are you feeling, thinking about your body image? You may feel a range of emotions, accept them with kindness and non-judgment. This part is really important.
- What would it feel like to accept your body, just the way it is? Take a moment to imagine what that could be like. Imagine if you could accept your body as a whole, rather than as a collection of individual parts.
- Continue to breathe, and slowly return to the present moment.
Mindful Body Respect
For example, maybe you're pushing your body too hard and need to give it rest, food, or something else. Listening intently and taking care of your body's needs, with time, can greatly improve your body image.
To The Power Of Mindfulness to Improve Your Body Image
Prioritizing mindfulness and meditation has completely changed my life. Not only has it helped me to appreciate life's little things, but it has helped me find a home in my own body. I no longer feel like it's a stranger that I prefer to ignore. I cherish and appreciate the adventures it takes me on, as my own safe space from the world.
If you add one thing to your self-care routine to improve your body image, let it be a mindfulness practice.
Like dating, try different ones until one makes your soul dance. Let your mind unveil calmness and peace and, importantly, joy.
You’ll notice how mindfulness can transform your relationships as you become a little more compassionate to the world around you.
You’ll recognize how the insignificant moments are the most delicate, like the birds chirping in the morning, or the feeling of hot water consuming you in the shower after a long day.
With time, you will understand you do not have to suffer from difficult body image and that it can improve, as you can find pockets of peace on the winding journey of self-acceptance.
To learn more about me and plunge into a divine boudoir experience in Colorado, please visit my website and follow along for more mindfulness tips on my social media and blog (I have a special resources page just for body image healing here)!