Life isn't always kind. Things happen. Illness happens. Our bodies age.. The way you feel on the inside doesn’t match how your body is feeling on the outside.
We are not always comfortable in the skin we are in. Maybe you’re in pain, you feel less energetic, or you feel stiff and inflexible. Your body keeps you from doing activities you love.
Facing physical changes that accompany aging is a challenge in a society that worships youth and beauty.
No matter what your physical condition is, you can rediscover your sense of vibrancy.
By practicing these three exercises, you will begin to access your innate wisdom, allowing you to maximize your potential for health, creativity, spiritual growth, and well-being.
We’ll practice getting used to moving in our body the way it is – accepting, embracing, and even loving the way it is.
Practice Body Awareness
Sit with a straight spine and put your right ear towards your right shoulder. As you feel this gentle stretch, reach your left arm straight out and down, as if you are trying to pick up something off of the floor.
Keep your spine long and straight. Hold this for a few breaths. Breathe into the stretch. Then release and with your eyes closed, check in with your body and compare the left and right sides of your neck.
Notice, with a sense of curiosity, the differences you are aware of. Are you judging yourself? Do you immediately desire to stretch the other side? This is a simple way to check-in with your body and notice what it’s telling you.
Increased body awareness will lead to increased body acceptance. Find gentle stretches and movements that feel good in your body right now. Listen to the ways your body wants to move.
The more you tell yourself that it hurts to move, or your body is too achy, the harder it will be. It’s a cycle that goes either way – either you move a little each day, which leads to moving a little more each day – or you move less, which leads to decreasing ability, which will eventually leave you quite sedentary and dependent.
Getting older doesn’t have to be a crisis. In order to keep vibrant, we need to keep moving.
Although we are probably not going to be running around at sixty like we were at twenty, we do need to keep moving – that is the secret to feeling better in our body. Try making gentle stretches part of your morning routine.
Becoming less identified with our physical body. Set a timer for 5 minutes. Sit in a comfortable seat and rest your hands on your lap. Close your eyes. Ask yourself “who is it that looks in the mirror and sees an aging body?” Is there a difference in that inner self and the outer self?
Can you identify that part of yourself that feels consistent throughout your life, regardless of what is happening to your physical body right now? Focus on that inner self.
See if you can find compassion for your body, reminding yourself of all the things it has done for you. Even thanking it.
Maybe you are losing your sight, but your body has given you the opportunity in life to experience a beautiful sunset, or maybe your hands have arthritis, but you’re able to walk your dog.
Whatever is going on, we can find parts of our body to say “thank you” to.
Sometimes we feel angry at our body for letting us down. This perspective will not serve us in any way. Practice non-judgment toward injuries or blockages, as you actively work to bring healing to them.
When we look at our bodies as energy systems, we can release ourselves from the idea that our body is a vehicle that has to look good.
Even though we are aging, we still have energy flowing throughout our body. In fact, we can become more aware of how energy flows through our body as we spend more time acquainting ourselves with it.
Plan activities that will give you a sense of community, purpose and belonging. Goal – find one organization where you can get involved.
Call your local church, hospital, community center, or any non-profit that is close to your heart. Ask them if you can volunteer for just a couple hours per month.
Studies show that having a sense of purpose promotes health and longevity. Not only does it add years to our life, it gives us a sense of well-being, decreases stress, and increases our general happiness level.
For example, my friend Grace is ninety years old. Her family lived in Germany during the Holocaust. She volunteers at the local Jewish Community Center doing activities with individuals who have Alzheimer’s. She lives a few blocks away, and walks there once a week to help out. She also meets friends for coffee, and has an active social life. This is what allows her to keep doing these things at ninety years of age.
For more guided exercises that you can do at home, along with other techniques to help you feel more at ease with your body, click here and you can download them immediately for FREE.
What is your relationship to loss, aches, pains, disease, and inflexibility? What is it like to live in a body that has osteoporosis, cancer, or arthritis? There are many areas to explore when checking in with your body. Increasing body awareness can change your relationship with your body, and improve self-acceptance and happiness.
I write about human behavior, meditation, body awareness, and a variety of other things that pique my interest.