Building an Authentic Relationship with Yourself – From the Denied Body to the Lived, Feeling Body

In today’s world it is easy to be swept away by so much that is pulling your attention to the outside world – Instagram, Facebook, magazines and alike make it easy to compare your body to other bodies and to feel less than others. Society gives an example of how to disembody and objectify your body as something outside of you that has to be fixed, improved or enhanced.

In addition many of us were raised in religious contexts that saw the body as the enemy to spirit and to be impure just by nature. Even though these views might have not been consciously taught, they are still part of society’s subconscious, especially in the classical Christian model. Guilt and shame are two feelings many still feel around their body. Guilt is the feeling of having done something wrong and waiting for punishment whereas shame is a feeling of being not right and having the fear of being abandoned. Both feelings are not life-enhancing or helping you to build a true, authentic relationship with your body and with yourself. [1]

Yoga sees the human being in a different light. We are made up of the body, emotions and mind. There is an inner Buddha within us, who has the choice of looking to the outside or looking inside. Yoga is looking inside and feeling what goes on. You can turn your attention to your body and feel how the body actually feels. To do this one nice exercise is to lie on the back and do a body scan, from toes to the crown of the head, or when sitting in cross-legged position how your legs and sitting bones feel  where they touch the ground. You can turn your attention to your breath and feel how the air is filling your lower abdomen, feel it expanding, and when you exhale still keep your attention there, broadening your awareness. Make the outbreath longer than the inbreath and you will strengthen your parasympathetic system. This will give you calm and quiet. Another way of becoming aware of your body and to embody it, is to turn your attention to your emotions. What is present right now, how does this emotion feel in the body? Just sit with it, don’t judge it, and keep your awareness on the body sensations related to this emotion.

The objectification of your body brings a feeling of separation with others. Just as you feel separated, ashamed and fearful of your own body, the connection to others feels disconnected and unreal. If you practice staying with your attention undivided with your body, breath and emotions you practice staying connected with yourself. You are then also able to stay in connection with another person, no matter what she says, does or how she feels in that moment.

I don’t remember anymore who wrote that the ego and its false concepts form a substitute in our society for the feeling of the bliss inside us, I think it was Georg Feuerstein. He wrote, that instead of internally connecting to Atma (your High Self, your internal Source of bliss) we choose substitutes outside ourselves, which form the basis for addictions and we thus avoid bliss.

To form an authentic relationship with yourself, and thus be joyful, happy and content, here is what you can do on a daily basis:

  • Sleep well and go to bed early
  • Exercise, eat well and meditate, all with an inner, mindful and loving focus 
  • Pause regularly during the day, even only for 5 minutes to feel how you feel and process your emotions, to stretch or to take a conscious breath
  • Cultivate your connection to your friends and family; just as you listen deeply to yourself without judging try to be as present as you can with them
  • Eliminate those activities that make you feel unhappy as much as you can to reduce the stress from the outside; if you don’t have a solution yet become creative to establish what you love doing now
  • If you have uncomfortable feelings and emotions find a way to process those and transform them into positive ones in your own rhythm
  • Plan activities that you love every day. Do something that makes you happy and that you enjoy every day
  • Feel thankful for what feels good in your life; for the big and so-called small things in life

[1] Georg Feuerstein, P.h.D.: “Sacred Sexuality – The Erotic Spirit in the World’s Great Religions”

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Sandra Veronika Gross is an advanced yoga teacher and a Rose Program Certified Counselor for nutrition and detoxification. She helps people with a busy schedule to engage in a healthy life style in their own pace to be full of joy, follow their intuition and experience inner peace.