Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Embody Talk: Jan Lundy, Wise Woman
Jan Lundy, of Awakened Living and Awake is Good, is one of those women with whom you immediately feel comfortable. There is a peace that surrounds her and her writing. Immediately upon reading Jan, you will know you have happened upon an authentic soul who has "done the work," as I like to say.
She has come to a place of rational wisdom in her life, and we are fortunate that she shares so generously with us. I have been the recipient of her generosity in many ways beyond her blogs and feel grateful whenever I see her name in my Inbox.
What is the first story that comes to mind when you are asked how you feel about your body?
Wonder and appreciation.
For many years now, I've embraced the notion that my body is sacred in that it provides me with a pathway to the Divine. There is no other way for me to experience the Divine (God) except through this human body. Through my senses, eyes, hands, breasts, womb, feet, heart, brain, and more. Each of these allows me to perceive, feel, and understand the Holy in all of life. (I write about this in my book, Your Truest Self—how our body can be a gateway into wholeness / "holiness.")
I did not always feel this way. For most of my life, I was aware that I had been given a wonderful body but I did not appreciate it, nor take very good care of it. I struggled with it due to health issues caused by stress. I held unrealistic and unkind expectations of it. Not until I pretty much lost my health in 1994 did I create a new and more conscious relationship with my body.
Do you weigh yourself? Why or why not?
Once in a while. I can usually tell if I am off balance with consumption or lack of exercise by how my clothing fits. I have a "set weight" that I feel comfortable at and my body sure tells me when I'm not there any more. For many years, I was enslaved to a scale. I was a model in my teens, then again in my thirties, and the pressure to be thin was extreme. I no longer buy into that notion and don't count calories or measure inches. I trust my body's wisdom to tell me what I need to give it to be well and healthy.
How do you like shopping for bathing suits and/or jeans (or any article of clothing)?
Honestly, I don't shop much. I am now 56 and my body has definitely shifted and changed. I am into "comfort clothing" that feels good on my body. Tight jeans are a pain in the belly! (Ha!) I've also simplified my lifestyle so my consumer consumption has been minimized. I don't "shop" like I used to. I used to be a "clothes hound" in my younger years, but now I have a few good outfits for each of the various roles I play and that is enough.
How do you feel during the experience and after? What do you typically do about the feelings that are brought up?
If I do have to shop for a swimsuit, I try to be gentle with myself. If I hear a critical, judgmental voice, I shush it and hold myself in compassion. I wear a comfortable swim suit at the beach, one more suitable to my age and body shape. I am no longer too worried about trying to look a certain way anymore. I am definitely more comfortable in my skin. I am enough.
What unattainable/unrealistic Rules do you have for your body? (For example, some women believe that only a certain size is acceptable or that certain foods are “bad.”)
I don't, at least I don't think I do. I accept and like my mid-life body. Without extreme effort on my part (at this point in time, anyway), it is not going to look like it did twenty years ago . It is a mid-life body. It has seen five pregnancies, numerous injuries, and health challenges.
I do like being a size 10. It seems that that is my "set size" and has been for many years now. If I go beyond that, my body feels very uncomfortable and sluggish. If I drop down to an 8, it's usually a sign that my body is stressed and unhealthy.
I am a vegetarian, eat organic as much as I can, and don't eat processed food or out in restaurants very often. I eat sensibly and do not really deny myself anything. I do try to watch my consumption of sugar as my body doesn't metabolize it like it used to. (Makes me feel weird.) I don't consume alcohol either. My eating habits are pretty mindful, which supports my mindful lifestyle. Conscious eating works for me. I go with foods that make my body feel good and avoid those that don't. I do not believe in diets. Eating for health and longevity is for me.
When have you felt best about your body? or When do you currently feel best about your body?
I've felt best when I was exercising regularly. Exercise has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I start and stop a lot. When I was doing yoga especially (on and off for 35 years now!) I felt great. A closed head injury a few years ago prohibits me from doing rapid movement now or inverted positions, so finding forms of exercise that keep my body fit has been challenging. I have just recommitted to a daily walking practice and I am loving it! Feeling stronger and more fit every day. (Recently, I wrote about this recommitment on my blog.)
Also self-nurturing is very important to me. (That's what I wrote my first book, Coming Home to Ourselves, on—self-care.) I need good, regular sleep, and plenty of self-nurturing. Solitude, nature, long baths...various things that send my body messages of care through relaxation. My body responds in kind.
What kind of movement does your body crave or do you not notice this craving?
Right now, it's eager to swim! Just waiting for the weather to warm up here in FL so I can begin daily swims in the pool. I love the feeling of being in water. I think my body also might like to get back into weight training.
What story would your body like to tell if you were able to listen?
"Thanks, Jan, for paying more attention to me. I'm glad you've recommitted to taking good care of me. I'll serve you well, I promise."
Christine, thank you for posing these thought-provoking questions. It felt very healing and integrating for me to answer them publicly. May we all continue to embrace ourselves tenderly as we make peace with and learn to like (even love!) these divine bodies of ours!
Like Jan, I believe that our bodies are gateways to the divine and should be treated as such. No more desire for any kind of transcendence for this Chick! I want to sink deeper and deeper into the mud of my physical self and see what sorts of seeds are sprouting there.
How about you? Do you tend to separate your physical life from your spiritual?
(NOTE: Again, if you can't see the comments, simply click on the title of this post. You will then have access. I apologize for any inconvenience; I am working to remedy this (WEIRD and most ANNOYING) issue.)