Tonight, I was walking around in downtown Kingston after teaching, ironically, Body Positive Yoga for All at Life Yoga, and running to Staples and I legit got mooed at!
Let me set the scene: I had parked the car in the Wolfe Island Ferry line to hold my spot and then ran-walked a could of blocks to Staples to do a return/exchange for something I need for yoga teacher training first thing tomorrow morning. On my way back to the ferry, I passed by about six million people - rough estimate, but it feels pretty accurate - who were coming and going to and from Buskerfest, Movies in the Square, the Cirque du Soliel show that’s in town, or whatever. Also, for those who don’t live in eastern Ontario, we are in the middle of a record-breaking “extreme heat warning”. This has left us all melting into people blob bubbles on the sidewalks at the mere thought of physical activity in the out of doors. Due somewhat to my desire to escape the searing heat as quickly as possible, but more because I was rushing to catch the ferry, I was moving quick. So quick, in fact, that I *almost* didn’t hear when, as I passed by a group of four or so people in their late teens/early 20s loitering about as they do, one of the people made a long, low, and very distinct mooing sound directed right at my adorable Buddha Pant-clad self. I was probably about ten strides past them on the warpath to the ferry before it even registered and do you know what my natural, unplanned, true to my heart reaction was? I laughed! It was so ridiculous! A “grown” person mooing at a cute af stranger they have never met or spoken to while she just goes about daring to live her life. How dare I? Don’t I know I’m fat? What gives me the right to exist in the world? Don’t I have some lonely, embarrassing crying to do into my gallons of shame ice cream?
In all seriousness, it was at this precise moment that I was reminded just how grateful I am for the hard hard work that I have done (and still do every friggin day). I attribute my past struggles with body image and body positivity and the work that I’ve done working through that karma withy reaction today. I was beyond unfazed. It literally did not even slow me down. My next, and almost just as instant, thought was of some of the people I have met when they first start to practice with me in “Yoga for Bigger Bodied People”. I thought about how broken down and defeated they are from a whole life of snide comments, exclusion, and embarrassment. I thought about how long and how hard they work to build themselves back up over and over again. I know what a hurtful remark like that would have done to people like that and I was sad and disappointed at how cruel and heartless people can be.
What I know that this person is still figuring out is that I am not this body. The ME of me has nothing to do with my weight, height, hair colour, skin colour, or any other characteristic you want to assign to me to differentiate me from my fellow human. The mooer has told me more about who they are in their heart and mind with one syllable than a moment under their gaze as I swept by could have ever told them about me. I laughed because of how much I didn’t give a f*ck what this person sees when they see my body. I have clients who email, call, or message me everyday to tell me about how their lives have been made more full and enjoyable since studying with me. My husband and daughter light up when I come home to them at the end of the day. I feel fulfilled in my work. I have money in the bank. I am loved and I love deeply and generously with loyal conviction. I am proud of myself and feel complete every night when I rest my conscious soundly for a long and undisturbed night of sleep. I don’t need to look in a mirror to know that I am happy. Numbers on a scale (that I don’t own) will not determine my self-worth. I am a person. A heart, a mind, emotions, thoughts, feelings, opinions, experiences. I am not my adipose tissue.
Your body is meant to be the safest place for you to live. To live, REALLY live, requires an embodiment that a lot of people who have been traumatized learn to numb. We watch TV, turn on the radio, binge-eat, over-exercise, worry, scroll social media, become our own victimizers, start fights or make drama, all in an effort to check-out and stay at arms length from our realities. To live, REALLY live, begins by coming home to your body and being present to what is, even when we’re mooed at! For a lot of people, this is so challenging because they have histories of being hurt, embarrassed, shamed, or made to feel unloved, unworthy, and unlovable. We can't be hurt unless we were embodied, so we stay detached. We disconnect from ourselves in a misguided effort to keep ourselves safe, but this is like wrapping your kid in bubblewrap and taping them to a tree because they fell and broke their arm - sure, they'll be safe, but is that any way to life a life? Body neutrality and, in time maybe, body positivity is a practice. It is a dedication to retraining the way the brain thinks. It takes time and opportunity to be experienced in a variety of situations.
If you are still working to find a comfy home in your body, start with finding a safe and cozy physical place - your yoga studio, back deck, bedroom, car, wherever. Somewhere with zero expectations and no judgement where all potential experiences of reality are equally celebrated. Then, find a way to move your body that bring your joy. Flow through asana, dance, or even just find a way to sit comfortably and breathe. Lastly, maybe with a teacher or someone that you trust to support you, begin to show elements of the You of you - maybe a little at first, then more and more - your sense of humour, your opinions, your expression of movement - all of you. Unfiltered. Find or create spaces where you can have the opportunity of being safe in your body, while being embodied and present, and do so as often as possible. Experiences like this will, in time, override/crowd out your memory and slowly change the paradigms you’ve formed about your body and your worth. You have the capacity to move through whatever issues are challenging you and the more you can surround yourself with people who care to see the You of you, the more opportunities you’ll have to be in the body and experience joy and love.
Being in the body is our first step towards healing. It is the key to living a full and intentional life and no amount of mooing is going to take that away from me.