My body divine

My body divine

It is time to make a paradigm shift from what we do not have or think we don’t have. It is indeed time to give gratitude to what we do have!

Shital Ravi

Deho devālayah proktah jīvo devassanātanah (sa jīvah kevalah śivah)

Tyajedajñānanirmālyam so’ham bhāvena pūjayet

(Maitreya Upaniṣad 2.1)

“The body is said to be a temple. The jīvā in it is verily śiva.

Having given up the tainted veil of ajnana, worship with the bhavana “He I am/That I am”.

As is the thought in Sanatana Dharma and is the case in so many faiths, the body is treated as a temple, which houses the divinity itself. What a beautiful and profound thought!

And yet we live in times where body shaming by the self and others, obsessing with certain features or the lack of it, wanting to look a certain way only, or poor body image has become the order of the day.

Over the past few years, there has been a surge in clients coming in for counselling, especially young adults and teens who struggle immensely with poor body image either due to their weight issues, complexion issues, height issues and so forth. The list is endless. The latest to join this list is teenage boys desperately wanting a jaw line like ‘Damon Salvatore’ of Vampire diaries.

And there are social media posts, which give tips on how this can be brought about, one tip being ‘chewing gum’ through the day. I honestly do not know whether anatomically such a change is possible by this continuous action, but I can very well imagine the pain in the jaw and the emotional angst if it doesn’t happen. When the focus is continuously on what we don’t have it is obviously going to have negative ramifications leading to a plethora of emotional and psychological issues.

It is time

But then as Rafiqui says in the Lion King, “It is time!” Time for what though?

It is time to make a paradigm shift from what we do not have or think we don’t have. It is indeed time to give gratitude to what we do have!

Gratitude acts as a powerful antidote and it actually helps us rewire our brain. Gratitude helps us stop ruminating over negative to focussing on the positive and what’s going to be good for us thus helping us have a more holistic and balanced view.

How do I accomplish this when it comes to the matters of my body, or body image?

A gratitude exercise that we can incorporate for our body.

Close eyes, sit comfortably, focus on breath and envision the body as a special place. Start by expressing gratitude for:

  • The smooth body functioning that’s taking place
  • Every organ doing its work without you needing to remind it or monitor it
  • For all the limbs that are helping you do your actions, tasks and activities
  • For this beautiful vehicle that helps you fulfill all your aspirations 

Gratitude towards your body

This is just the beginning. As you embark on a journey of gratitude towards your body you can find a million reasons to thank it. When one looks from this prism towards one’s own body there is a whole paradigm shift that occurs. A shift towards the positive. And when this happens, self-acceptance follows. When one accepts the self wholly one starts being comfortable in one’s own skin. Literally! This then helps others accept us the way we are. A positive cycle is put in place.

Think about it. Lord Krishna was dark hued. Megha shyama varna, the one hued like the dark clouds. And yet he ruled the hearts of everyone around him and still does. That is because he was supremely comfortable the way he was. His acceptance of himself was complete and thus he spread joy wherever he went.

In more recent times, we can take immense learnings from the life of the legendary actor, our Thalaiva, Superstar Rajnikant. There is even a song in Tamil which says,

“Enga Nattil super star, Rajnikantam karapa daan. Karuppa tha Karuppa tha, ennuku pidiche colour…”

(Our state’s super star Rajnikant is also dark. Give me black, give me black, my favourite colour.)

Coming from a humble background, he rose to super stardom and is one of the most popular stars not just in India but in Asia and further too. Could he have achieved so much by bothering too much about being dark hued? About being bothered with what he doesn’t have? Or did he accomplish this feat by focussing on what he did have? Great physique, sharp features, talent and immense charisma.

And if I have to go further then there is so much to learn from the mouth and foot artistes, or from the Paralympians. They have a real challenge in place. They have risen like the phoenix from their adversities and went on to make the most of what they do have. Most of us are not in that space.

And so. Practicing gratitude towards the body that we have can contribute immensely to a positive self-image, in turn leading to wholesome self-acceptance and enhanced self-esteem. By recognising and appreciating our own body and our physical strengths, and the positive qualities within us, gratitude can go a long way and nurture a healthier self-perception.

My body, my temple!