In yoga class, our instructor is in the middle of the room and we arrange our mats all around her, to face her.
There is no back row, no hiding.
I am next to the mirror.
And every time I turn and see my reflection there, even though I feel strong and embodied, even though I am engaged fully with the practice, shame sweeps through me.
I have such hatred for the extra fat on my body, the shape of it.
I don’t like seeing myself when I look like this, and I don’t want other people to see me.
I let these thoughts move through me as I move in Warrior I, Warrior II, Crescent.
Near the end of the class, I sit on my mat and watch our instructor lift her beautiful body into Crow.
Crow is astonishing.
Keep showing up for yoga, she says to us, and you’ll be able to do this.
Nothing in me feels truth in that statement.
I cannot put my hands on the floor during forward fold without bending my knees.
I will never be able to lift into Crow.
I can’t imagine having that sort of strength.
I let those thoughts move through me as I admire her form, her grace.
Yoga is body-love.
Yoga is breath and breath is love.
So maybe if I keep showing up for yoga, I will learn to love my body.
Maybe I will be able to look at in the mirror without feeling defeat and sorrow.
But that is not today.
And that is okay.
The world does not revolve around me.
My problems, my burdens, my challenges, my little tricky places?
That’s all they are.
They’re mine to dance with.
I don’t seek to build myself up.
What does it matter if I wish my belly were flatter or my hips more narrow or my arms more defined?
What does it matter if I no longer recognize my own face?
Love is still love.
Love is lending myself to others where I can, helping where I see a need.
And I can feel love. I can feel the constant love of God even when I’m thinking unloving thoughts about myself.
There is nothing that can separate me from the love of God.
Even my own resistance.
Even the stories I believe.
God can love me through my un-love.
Love is available to me, even when I'm not available to love.
I bring my hands into prayer position. I close my eyes. I breathe.
Feel your feet splitting the mat, our instructor says. Bring your body back to homeostasis.
I am here, in this moment. All of me. The dark and the light.
Self-Love is letting it all be.
Maybe the concept of self-love feels a little off-putting to you because you, too, realize you’re not the center of the universe.
Maybe you don’t see how you could look in the mirror and think only loving thoughts about yourself.
Maybe self-love sounds a little too positive-thinky, a little to twee.
Maybe it sounds as impossible to you as Crow pose sounds to me.
If that’s the case, Paint Your Self-Love Portrait may be for you.
It’s about painting as contemplation, about encountering the love of God on your canvas, about flowing where you are – in the allowing and in the resistance.
No affirmations, no expectations.
Just showing up.
Learn more here.