At a family day-trip to a local lake over the weekend, I listened in on a mom's conversation with her four year old daughter. The mom was admiring the girl's flat, smooth tummy and the girl asked, "Do you have a pretty tummy too, Mommy?" And in the heartbeat of the moment between the girl's question and the mother's joking but negative answer, my heart broke a little. Because I could predict what the mom's answer would be. We probably all know the mom's answer because - if we were raised in this culture - it's most likely how we feel about our own bodies.
I do not like the way my body looks. What I see in the mirror doesn't live up to my expectations. Saggy belly. Lumpy, veiny legs. Skin that makes me sigh sadly. And each time I evaluate my physical self against a standard set by a culture that does not love women's bodies (how can it when the standard of beauty is one that even most 17 year olds can't achieve?) I push away the part of me that holds my intuitive power.
I like to think of my intuition as an inner guide that helps me navigate my way to a happy, love-filled life. When I make a wrong step - like working on a self-imposed deadline when I want to be enjoying time with my family - my inner guide lets me know with subtle clues: my throat gets tight and feels funny and my shoulders ache. Your very own inner guide nudges you back on the right path in its special way, maybe with tummy aches, headaches, or tension in various muscles throughout your body.
Most of the time, your inner wisdom uses a kind of sign language, communicating through sensations and physical responses and even discomfort. If you're really lucky, sometimes you'll hear the quiet, "inside voice" of your inner guide as she quietly says, "Take this class," and during the first hour you meet your best friend for life. You feel an irrational excitement to look at one more listing online and there you find the home of your dreams. You notice the hair rising on the back of your neck and scurry through the dark parking garage to the safety of your car. You're inexplicably drawn out of bed in the middle of the night to check on your child and he's flushed with fever. Your inner guide leads to you what's truly important to your essential self: health, happiness, safety, love.
During the winter and spring, I hear my intuition much more clearly because I'm all buttoned up and layered up, enjoying my body for what it does and not for how it looks. But once the weather starts getting warmer, it gets more difficult to tune into my intuition's subtle cues because I'm critiquing, criticizing, and disliking my body, the place my inner guide calls home.
You can't have both. You can't live in a body that you deny and despair over and still be able to tune in fully to the wisdom of your inner guide. And in that disconnect between what you want and what is, between your body and your soul, between your inner critic and your inner guide, the deep communication from your intuition is lost.
For most of us most of the time, the voice that we hear isn't the gentle inner guide, but the critical, harsh voice of our outer social self, the one that constantly compares how we're doing and how we look against the rest of the world. Our critic lets us know in no uncertain terms that we're somehow falling short.
It's time to transform the hours that we spend dieting and disparaging and denying our bodies into a quiet, personal revolution. It's time to take back our bodies and begin to listen again to the cues that guide us on our winding path towards joy. The joy that comes when you take off your shoes and play in the grass with your kids. The joy that you feel when you give yourself an extra moment before dinner to be grateful for the health of your family. The delicious joy that you experience in your body when you stand and stretch and your inner guide says, "Yes. Welcome home."
Come join me for my first Saturday Sanctuary for Moms on June 14. Together we'll begin our own personal revolution by creating an intimate community with other moms and by learning ways to start listening again to that deep inner wisdom that will guide you to joy, and peace, and satisfaction. Come spend a few hours with me and head home happier.
I'm a mother of two incredible boys, wife to Bill White of Happy Baby Signs, author of the books The Well-Crafted Mom and Signs of a Happy Baby, and an intuitive life coach. I like to blog about my adventures with my family and the life lessons I'm learning along the way. I hope you'll join me on this journey.
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