Do You Love a Body, or Something More?

love beyond physical beautyYour body is just a car, the vehicle for your spirit here in the Now. It is part of you, but it is not the entirety of You, nor does it define who you really are. When you criticize your body, or hate your body, you are projecting self-hatred at something that only exists to shelter and serve you for a little while. Body hatred is externalized self-hatred, and that is something we must heal.

That being said, what happens when you love another soul? What is it that you love about your life partner? Is it just their body? You may find their body attractive or desirable, but is that the entirety of your love for them? Hopefully not. Is it just the way their eyes twinkle, the funny way they laugh at dumb jokes, or the way their hair curls just so? How deep does your feeling go?

When you begin to examine what it is you love about another person, it can be difficult to separate the body—the vehicle—from what you love. And certainly, the body is part of the whole person, although not as important a piece as we tend to make it. So you probably can’t separate their smile, that little crook in the nose, or whatever it is about them that makes them so endearing to you. But it goes so much deeper than that.

It is a fact that some incredibly “beautiful” people become less attractive as you get to know them. Personality and a kind heart matter a great deal. Likewise, some people who may be deemed homely may be the most attractive people in the room simply because of who they are and how they treat others. That gap in the teeth becomes endearing because you love the person, even if you don’t grow to love that person because of the gap in their teeth.

So many people struggle with relationships, I believe, because they spend so much time looking at the outer package that they do not recognize that the inside simply does not make a good match for them. I have known many couples who attracted each other on the basis of appearance and sexual attraction, yet they grow apart because they don’t really have any common interests. Instead of being best friends, they effectively live separate lives that only intersect in the shared world of their offspring or their physical residence.

Mistaking sex for love is something that every teenager manages to do. Hopefully, they learn that hormones and sexual attraction, while intense, do not in themselves form the basis for a relationship. This is the most shallow of all relationships, because it is only about love of the physical form. We all have a crush on beautiful or handsome people at some time in our lives, and that crush doesn’t require us to know them as a person at all. My childhood crush on David Cassidy was instructive and harmless, and if I had met him, I might not have liked him at all. Such is the way of crushes.

My first real boyfriend was also the product of mutual attraction. As such, it only lasted three months. As we came to know one another as people, we realized we had nothing in common. It fell apart pretty quickly. “Sam” was still the same good-looking fellow that I had swooned over initially, but by the end of our time together, I had lost my desire to gaze into those handsome hazel eyes. He was not his body; his body just carried him around. Likewise, I grew less attractive in his eyes.

Everyone I love is beautiful to me, even if the rest of society doesn’t see it. I love my wife’s slightly crooked nose and smile. I love her differently abled body, which works very differently than most. I love all of the flaws that my family members worry and obsess over, as though they were personal failings, somehow. Which they aren’t. Bellies, baldness, extra pounds, who cares? We are all aging gracefully if we simply move through it with grace. Ahnna’s hair is a beautiful white; I see a few strands of gray in my own hair, and I welcome them. I have a mother’s belly, complete with stretch marks, and they are just a part of the story of my life.

Every body tells a story. Here is the scar where I fell off my bicycle at age 7. Here is the scar where a dermatologist did a terrible job of removing a mole. Here are the stretch marks. Here are the crow’s feet and the laugh lines. Here is my left knee, which suffers from too much high-impact aerobics in my 20s.

I was raised by a woman who was critical and obsessed over physical beauty, so I used to be pretty hard on my own form. I can now honestly say that when I look in the mirror, I see a beautiful woman staring back at me, stretch marks, scars, wrinkles, and all. I am grateful for my wonderful body, which has served me so well. And I recognize that I am not this form. I am more than this form. I transcend this form, and one day I will step out of it and move on to the next thing. It is not me, but it is part of me today.

What is it you love about your beloveds? This is a question worth asking. You will find that very little of the things that truly matter about them have to do with their bodies. And you may find reasons to love them more deeply than you even imagined you could. In the process, you may find that you find reasons to love yourself more deeply as well.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the beholder may not be capable of perceiving the beauty that exists in all things.
~Asha Hawkesworth

Everything is beautiful in its own way, as the song goes. And so it is. The happiest person on earth can see beauty everywhere, and in all things. You are the beholder, and you can change the way you perceive the world—and therefore judge it. When you understand that everything is beautiful and perfect just as it is, there is no need for judgment, of yourself or others.

Rebirth of the Warrior

stepping outside your comfort zoneJust over a year ago, I finally decided to do something about my need to move. I knew I needed some form of physical activity, something that I could enjoy and sustain. So I joined a gym and started taking various classes and lifting a few weights. Over time, I changed some classes for others, tweaking until I found the right combination of fun and fitness for me. During this time, I also made some dietary changes, and in the end, I lost 2 sizes and about 35 pounds. And for awhile, this was enough.

One of the classes that I have continued to take is a group cycle class. When I first started, my goal was to finish the workout without dying. Or at least, without feeling like I was dying. And then at some point, I started to challenge myself a little. I added on more resistance. A little here; a little there. Eventually, I even started to face my old enemy, the Sprint.

I have never been fast, and when I was in middle school and high school, I was basically coerced into playing basketball. I’m reasonably tall, but that did not make me a good player. Worse, practice meant lots of running. Worse still, it meant lots of sprinting. Dear God, you want me to run how fast and for how long? So it came as a surprise to myself that I would actually want to challenge myself to sprint as hard and as fast as I could during this class.

Building strength can be quite addictive. It’s certainly true that obsessive personalities are drawn to the gym. It is certainly something that control freaks can control. No doubt that is part of what’s going on for me, as I am (still) a recovering control freak…

But there’s more going on than that for me. After a brief absence, my Spirit Father has returned to remind me of the warrior I have been (in previous lives) and the warrior I must be now.

Last week, I went white-water rafting with a family member and his son. I had never been before. During the pre-rafting speech, I began to pray that I wouldn’t end up on the front page of the local paper. Ha ha. Please just keep me in the boat, I asked the angels.

The actual rafting part was not too difficult, and I was glad that I was in reasonably good shape. Not long into the trip, however, we stopped and walked along the shore past a particularly nasty bit of falls. Once safely around, we were given a choice:  either jump off of an 18-foot cliff into the middle of the river and swim to the raft, or walk down the trail to the river and simply walk to the raft from there. Given my fear of heights and the swiftness and coldness of the river, along with my memories of news stories in which people died in Pacific Northwest rivers, you would think that I would scurry myself along the easy path and simply walk to the boat. And a year ago, I probably would have done exactly that. But this year was different. I felt my Spirit Father with me. You are a warrior.

I didn’t hesitate too long. I simply jumped. Once in the air, I thought, Well, I’m committed. Splash, into the icy river, and then I had to immediately start swimming or miss the raft. And before I knew it, I was safe in the boat—and incredibly proud of myself.

A little further down was a waterfall that we were not going to walk around. We were going over it, which meant the raft would be submerged briefly. If you were likely to fall out of the boat, this was the time it would probably happen. It was optional, but I chose to face it, albeit with some trepidation. As I paddled toward that fall, I remembered doing very similar things in my long past. You are a warrior, he whispered.

I grew up with a great deal of trepidation about my physical body. I always played it safe and was never much of a risk-taker in that regard. So it is interesting to me now that I am pushing myself physically, and I know that it is part of a larger spiritual change as well. I am a warrior, but I do not make war.

The warriors of the future are very different from the warriors of the past. It is no longer about inflicting damage or death, of control or triumph. A warrior in the new world is a protector, a peace-maker, a provider. A warrior is characterized by strength through peace and love. A warrior understands that he or she is not separate, and that the entirety of Earth and the Universe is One Being. A warrior is still brave; a warrior still acts when required. But the expression of these things is changing. A warrior trusts that when he or she is called upon to jump from an 18-foot cliff (literally or figuratively), that the Universe is there to support them. A warrior is an enlightened being and a student of Life.

The great Mystery Schools of our past always included physical tasks that had to be completed. The purpose of these tasks was to help us overcome our fears. When you can overcome your fears, you are truly a spiritual warrior, and you can accomplish great things. I believe that this is a major part of this transformation in myself.

I don’t honestly know where this new direction is going to take me, but my Spirit is calling me to change, and the Universe is instructing me in this change, and it is good. It is always good.