By Mary Berkery – Your body is a temple – bones and all
In primary and secondary school, she was nicknamed Bugsy because of her fuzzy hair and prominent teeth. As a result, she smiled with lips sealed to hide her teeth, and kept quiet and withdrawn so as not to attract attention. When they called her Bugsy, her body would cringe with shame, hearing internally: “You are ugly.”
At age 16, her name was chosen for a makeover from a visiting make-up artist to the school. She was brought to the top of the class, and seated on a high stool while the rest of the class watched. “Bugsy getting a makeover,” they said, laughing. The beauty specialist (whose name she never knew, but whose hands and words she remembers to this day) commented, as she proceeded to demonstrate how to cleanse and skillfully apply moisturizers and decorative cosmetics: “You have such beautiful skin, eyes, bone structure.” The class, too, expressed much admiration and praise. “Correct skincare,” she said, “accentuates what already is there.”
That evening, instead of the usual donning of jeans and boots to go outside to work with animals, she found a most beautiful silk scarf, draped it over her head and shoulders and sat in front of a mirror. She absorbed, in a way that she never had before, the sight of her made up face, her eyes and skin tone. “You are beautiful,” she found herself repeating, “So beautiful.” She felt like a princess. Inside and outside, waves of sensual loveliness filled and washed over her. The experience was the beginning of her journey to personal transformation. In fact, her first career choice of beauty therapy stemmed from that pivotal event.
An incident of personal change occurred recently in my life, when I cut my foot. I had to have an x-ray, as there was a possible fracture in my instep. Sitting in the room, waiting for results, my foot up, I had nowhere to go but to rest into my being and body. So, when the x-ray was put up on the light box, I was awestruck. The exquisite bones, their perfect shapes fitting together, their elegance – they were works of art. It was as if I was looking at the most beautiful landscape (bodyscape!) hidden beneath my skin.
Familiar with caring for my feet from the outside, this was different. As a reflexologist who taught anatomy and physiology, I felt a reverence and wonder that knowledge alone did not give me. In that awestruck moment, I experienced how wrong it is to put any unhealthy substance into such a holy and perfect place as my body. “I will never drink coffee again,” I could hear my inner voice utter.
I believe that we all have been graced with similar encounters, moving us from states of self-neglect to knowing that there is much life, love and beauty to live and give. What are the pivotal times that awakened you to your essence and deeper knowing of your unique human physical expression?
Suggestion: Look at your face in a mirror. Look with curiosity, and suspend all judgment. Welcome who you see looking back as a work of art. Acknowledge her/him. Look closely at the beautiful coloring, skin formation, facial contours and lived-in eyes. Do this for 10 -20 minutes, releasing all judgments as they arise.
Or, look at your hands, feel them with your eyes closed, stroke them, sense their warmth and your soothing touch. Take your time. With aromatherapy oil, slowly massage each hand and finger as if you were caring for a loved one. Keeping your eyes closed; hold your hand with the other as you would a child or beloveds. Breathe and smile inside and outside!
I would love to know what you experienced, or if you have any questions: