How to practise body kindness

 

How would you describe the way you treat your body?

Are you kind and caring?

Or hateful and cruel?

For most of us, being kind to your body doesn’t come naturally.

In a world where body hate is seen as normal, it’s hardly surprising.

BUT, in this post I’m exploring why body kindness is SO important to physical and mental health (including body image!).

Plus, I’m sharing a kindness meditation to help you cultivate greater kindness towards yourself.

Watch or read below:

 

 

What is body kindness?

Body kindness is about treating your body with compassion, appreciation and respect. And, it’s about understanding the many ways that your body supports you and responding to its needs.

It’s a difficult concept to understand and practise, mainly because we aren’t conditioned to be kind to our bodies.

Our culture encourages and normalises body loathing – the constant pursuit of a supposedly better and more perfect body.

Yet this constant striving for a perfect or different body can ruin physical and mental health. For example, body loathing encourages unhealthy behaviours such as deprivation, body obsession and in some cases abuse through drugs, alcohol or self-harm.

The benefits of body kindness

According to a recent study by the Universities of Exeter and Oxford cultivating kindness towards yourself and others calms the heart rate and turns off the threat response (also known as your ‘fight or flight’ response). This is turn results in better physical and mental health, putting you at less risk of disease.

So if you want better physical and mental health (and remember that body image is a part of mental health), try consciously being kind to yourself and others.

How to practise body kindness

While being kind to others might not seem so tricky, practising self or body kindness might feel alien.

But if you don’t have the first idea of where to start, try this simple loving kindness meditation based on the Buddhist tradition:

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take a few deep breathes in and out.

Continue to breathe and use either the following phrases or choose some yourself. Say or think them several times starting each phrase with ‘May I be….’

Free from inner and outer harm and danger

Safe and protected

Free of mental suffering or distress

Happy

Free of physical pain and suffering

Healthy and strong

Able to live in this world happily, peacefully, joyfully, with ease

Give this practice a try and notice the difference it makes to the way you feel about yourself and your body.

I love to know how it feels to practice self-kindness and body kindness.  Please leave a comment below.

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