A Love Note to My Body

Valentine’s Day has always occurred to me as a time to appreciate those relationships that I’m tempted to take for granted, so in the past I’ve written cards to my husband, parents, and friends who mean a lot to me. This year, a different thought spurs me to pick up my pen. I want to write a love note to this long-serving body of mine.

To say that I haven’t always had a hearts-and-roses relationship with my body would be an understatement. I dissociated from my body in childhood and could barely tolerate being in it as a young woman. As I neared 30, depression got the better of me and I spiraled down into a year-long bout of anorexia, trying to disappear from a world of pain and problems I couldn’t begin to understand.

It was in the midst of my recovery that I discovered yoga. The idea that the body is a sacred vessel was new to me, and learning how to honor and actually feel the sensations in my body instead of ignoring and denying them was revolutionary. Just taking a deep breath was difficult in the beginning, much less pairing breath with flowing movement, but as I continued to practice, my relationship with my body began to change.

Now, several decades after I first coaxed my body into a yoga pose, I want to address this love note to my body:

Dearest and most intimate friend,

What a journey this life has been. We’ve taken it together, you and me, from infancy to maturity, from trauma to transcendence, from wishing you were different to embracing every curve and imperfection. Well, no, I can’t really say that I embrace migraines, but I have learned to soften into pain instead of pushing back against it, and that’s made a big difference.

Migraines aside, we’ve come a long way from the days I didn’t think twice about the food I fed you, the sleep I missed, and my presumption that you were an Energizer Bunny of a machine that would go on indefinitely no matter how I cared (or didn’t care) for you.

Thank you for not breaking down during the long years when I was unconscious of how precious you are. Thank you for being patient as I slowly learned ways to bring you into alignment with my mind, heart, and spirit. Thank you for helping me to explore and enjoy ways of stretching, strengthening, and breathing that are supportive of your well-being.

Thank you for teaching me how closely intertwined body and mind really are, and how anxiety that begins in thought, belief, or memory translates so quickly into a clench of gut muscles, shoulders that creep up around my ears, or a jaw so tight I can barely pry my teeth apart to speak. Thank you especially for showing me how one deep breath can go a long way toward defusing that kind of stress.

I sincerely apologize for the body image that drove me to dysfunctional behaviors in years past. It took a long time for me to realize just how skewed my image of you was, and even longer to accept that you had your own way of being in this world that didn’t match up with the perfectionist inside my head. As these old psychic wounds have healed, I find myself able to love you in a way I never could before.

With Valentine’s Day drawing near, I appreciate all you’ve done for me, dear body, and I want to be in even closer partnership going forward. I want to love the size and shape and weight of you, just as you are. I want to listen closely when you communicate without words so I can give you what you need sooner rather than later. I want to deepen our relationship and remember, day by day, how very well you have sheltered my soul and allowed me to grow. Each night before I fall asleep, I want to thank you for another day of tireless service, sending love to any place of pain or tightness. 

And even though I am addressing this note to you as if I’m somehow separate, I know in the depths of me that body and mind are an integrated whole. As important as they both are, I also know that this body-mind matrix isn’t all of me. I am more than joints, muscles, or even the sum of all my cells, synapses, and electrochemical reactions. What I call “me” is the embodiment of something I can’t see—an invisible, divine spark that illumines your tangible, flesh-and-blood reality with infinite light. This knowing offers me true perspective, even as I continue to find ways to nurture, support, and appreciate everything you bring to our relationship.

With heartfelt love and gratitude,

Danna

Danna Faulds, poet and yoga practitioner, has published six books of poetry and a memoir, Into the Heart of Yoga: One Woman’s Journey.

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