“I am a body of love rituals.”
~ from ‘Moonhold’ by Lubomira Kourteva
Our blessed, beautiful, loving bodies.
They sure go through so much. They carry us through our good and bad, through life itself each day. They hold us. They do their best even when we don’t believe in them. They are always with us even when we forget about them. They cry with us, they laugh with us, they walk with us and they bear our scars inside and on the outer skin. No matter how we talk to them and how we view them, they continue to hold us through the day and night. They move, they dance, they tremble in fear and they tremble in ecstasy. They are our beloved companions. They are our temples who are devoted to us and love us through it all, through thick and thin; they are the shrine built of blood, bone, flesh and spirit. Such temples are worthy of honoring, respect and kindness in return.
We are constantly bombarded by body shaming, body doubting, body bashing and body discounting. No matter the body, thin or overweight, male or female, body shaming is very real, experienced by us all and is present even in the most “spiritual” communities. People judge us, our value, skills, abilities, talents and identity based on how we look and dress, no matter how open-minded they are. But that’s not something that we can change – so instead may we just focus on how we treat our beautiful temples.
Everyone talks about self-love but rarely do we talk about “why”. So why does it matter?
Well, it’s the most powerful love spell of all.
Caring for ourselves, loving and honoring our bodies allows us to pay attention; and the more we learn to pay attention, the better lovers we’ll be. It’s the Art of Love. If we are comfortable in our own bodies, we are better at being creative and imaginative which is what eroticism is based on. And no matter how many years have passed in our partnerships, we’ll continue to approach our lover as art and exploring them as we are paying attention; rather than take them for granted and not seduce them all over again.
Self-love is not about loving ourselves when things are great; it is about how we treat ourselves when things are not great like when we feel rejected, humiliated, ugly, ashamed, embarrassed or we’ve just failed in something. Managing these feelings in a gentle voice with compassion and forgiveness, is what makes us great lovers. Once we know how we love to be treated, we’ll teach others how to treat us, and at the very least, we’ll no longer suffice for anything less than that. Self-love teaches us boundaries, discernment, self-value and respect and as a result, the ability to walk away from what is no longer good for us.
If we are doing our work just because we are afraid of what would happen if we didn’t, is fear the reason for our work?
If we are staying in a relationship because of fear to be alone, it is love that we are building the foundation of the relationship on?
Self-love is based on self-awareness and self-acceptance. These kinds of words are so overused today – but they are not so simple in practice. To accept ourselves as we truly are, so that we come into our wholeness and blessedness is a hard task. It is about melting; letting our rigid exterior and boundaries soften to reveal our radiant being within. When we are aware of how we judge our feelings and appearance, only then we’ll have the choice to let go of these attitudes and open ourselves fully to new possiblities (and realities).
This is not about loving more. Love is our essence and it is our true nature already. Love is about wholeness and acceptance, in an unconditional way. All we need to do is devote time, effort, clear intent and commitment to The Art of Noticing. We need to pay loving attention. We need to feel into ourselves (and others) with compassion and awareness, free from judgment and blame.
What does nakedness mean for you? What does your body mean to you?
It is a place.
It is a place where we go.
Is it a place of tenderness? Is it a place of authority, surrender, discomfort, creativity, joy, pleasure, embarrassment, criticism, obsession, or is it a place of shame?
How do you enter this place?
Our body is our home, our temple and our shrine. It is also a mirror. In many small thousands of ways, our body reflects who we are in the space that we occupy. The thing with mirrors is this: we can only see what we bring. This ritual helps us to understand what is our relationship to our home within.
Turn off the lights in your room and place candles on both sides of a full-length mirror. Light the candles and imagine a gateway. Your view of yourself is now entering the gateway, entering your temple that is your body. Stand naked and move around, observing how each part of your body changes a little in the light. Notice how your curves play in the shadows. Dance with music as an honoring for your body. Where do you enter? How do you honor your temple? How can you express adoration towards yourself in new ways? How do you change your perspective as the lights change? How can you best honor your blessed body?
The Body Love Ritual
How we relate to our physical body reflects our relationship to ourselves. If our body is our home and temple, we can’t sit there and curse it or throw garbage at it. None of us are flawless. Self-acceptance and body love doesn’t mean we’ll always have amazing days. But when we do have “those bad days” we’ll hopefully settle into our vulnerabilities and have the ability to self-nurture; to retreat to a safe secluded place where we can talk to ourselves in a gentle voice that is encouraging, compassionate and forgiving.
You can do the rituals alone and with a partner. I would however suggest that you do your alone rituals first, before sharing this with your partner. If we are not comfortable in our bodies and lack the self-esteem, no matter how much our partner adores us and explores us, we’ll never be able to receive them fully. And another reason to do it separately first, is that many couples who have been together for a long time find that they depend on their partner for their self-definition. Body love is an entirely different perspective and this is why it is important to begin with you.
Turn on the lights and stand in front of a full-length mirror. Look yourself up and down and notice what thoughts, feelings, judgments and humble appreciations arise for you. Look yourself in the eyes for a few minutes and receive yourself with all that is you and arising in you. Remain with yourself through these uncomfortable moments and thoughts, whatever they may be, continuing to look into your eyes. When we remain with ourselves through the difficult, eyes wide open, is when we connect deeper.
Look at your body and explore what you like about it. What touches you about your body? What moves you or makes you feel beautiful? What are you proud of? For the parts that you don’t like, what situation in your life was that part helpful to bring you love? Any scars or imperfections or cellulite (which we all have) are just signs of our womanhood, beauty and strength. As our body changes and ages, every part of it is just a mark of femininity, maturity and wisdom. Pay loving attention to you.
Ask yourself some love questions:
How do I show up for myself?
How generous am I towards myself?
How do I speak to myself when I’ve failed or looked “bad”?
How do I romance myself? What romantic thing did I do just for me, just because?
How do I take care of my emotional needs and how do I listen to my body’s needs?
How do I fulfill my desires?
Take a shower or a bath. Enjoy the sensations of the water and oils as they caress your beautiful skin.
After the shower, start your love ritual.
Rub oil/lotion into your full body. Rub love and gratitude into your full body. Toes, ankles, thighs, belly, breasts, neck and arms. Thank your body parts, “Thank you legs for walking with me today. Thank you arms for holding me.” Your body is a sensual place to be. Be grateful for it. Put on some music, dance and move.
You are a beautiful experience of tender tending love.
Self-Love Beyond The Body
The body love ritual is not just about our physical selves; it’s about our body as the temple of our spirit. It is a mirror of our soul.
Just as we use mirrors we look at our external selves, we can also look within to explore our inner world. Essentially, our eyes see through our perspectives, which is a part of our inner world. And if the view is a bit shady, then the image will be a bit shady also.
Looking at external mirrors reflects our visible realities and bodies. It is what it is. We can choose not to look at it but it won’t change our body unless we ourselves do something to change it or change our perspective of what we accept or describe as “beautiful” versus “ugly”. Self-love, which is self-awareness and self-acceptance, is about our inner spiritual condition. It is a way of shaping our inner reality as an external image – so that we can view a new perspective through which we can gain more insight and make tangible changes.
Confronting our inner selves, such as shames and insecurities, can be really uncomfortable. It’s an intimate act; into-me-I-see. We usually spend great amounts of energy on hiding uncomfortable truths so that we maintain an illusionary facade. Yet the more we hide ourselves from ourselves, the more we separate ourselves from ourselves. When we decide to integrate all parts of us that were meant to be whole, is when we truly begin to love and accept ourselves. And that’s when we can truly share with others and build intimate, honest and long-lasting connections of deep, emotional fulfillment. We can only share with others what we have discovered and accepted within ourselves. We can only truly change our so-called unpleasant parts, when we have explored them and recognized their needs.
Self-exploration can be difficult but its rewards are immeasurable. Every time we reveal a part of us, we let go of an illusion that was never truly serving us anyway. Knowing ourselves and living a life of self-truth is our most beautiful gift; as it allows us to live in peace and self-acceptance. When we let go of our illusions and old beliefs, we arrive at home; we come into our wholeness and holiness.
Self-love is a way to be touched by our souls. As with any other intimate relationship, it requires trust, truth, respect, tenderness, compassion and dedication.
As we accept and embrace our external self, we also expand our inner landscape such as self-esteem and appreciation.
Feelings of Shame.
It is healthy to feel shame when we’ve done something bad, such as harming someone emotionally, verbally or otherwise. This would show remorse and hopefully, the desire to make amends, learn from our mistakes and not repeat this again. However, when we feel shame because we have taken on the believes of others that our bodies and sexuality are dirty and bad, thereby we ourselves must be dirty and bad – then this shame is toxic and unhealthy.
When people don’t deal with their own emotions and uncomfortable feelings, such as shame, they start projecting onto others and it becomes really difficult to be around them.
Now, of course it is difficult to face shame and any other such emotions, because it is oppressive and painful. Many people will try to cover this until it becomes very deeply hidden in our subconscious and stored into our emotional body (gut area). They cover up with additions, alcohol, distractions and hedonism. And many people also overcompensate, mistaking overt sexuality for sexual confidence – it isn’t. Sleeping around only shows reluctance to intimacy and body shame (as confusing as this may sound). Sadly, shame can hold our lives in many subtle ways – and this is why it is important to face it straight in the eyes.
When we stay present with our physical and emotional experiences, we allow feelings to move through us, and out of us; to uproot these weeds and come into self-acceptance and whole love.
In order to be truly free, we must face our inner world and remember ourselves.
The only way to grow love is to remember it. In Shamanic traditions, it is often said that the greatest adversary to reclaiming our power, is forgetfulness; forgetting our deeper truth and love.
Remember yourself. Connect to yourself. Deal with yourself and your emotions. Connect to the beauty, gratitude, joy and love that is you. Make yourself a body blessed and whole of love rituals.
Much Love & Peace
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