Part II: Excerpts from an interview with Sarah Maria, Body Image Expert and Author of ”Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happily and Confidently.”
Question: In your book Love Your Body, Love Your Life, you present the five steps for ending NBO. Can you talk about these steps?
The first step is to set an Intention. This is the crucial first step in creating what you want in life, and in creating and experiencing a body and a life that you love.
Step Two is to Identify and Detach from Negative Thoughts. This step is about becoming aware of the thoughts that run through your mind on a regular basis, discovering that they are not your own, that they were given to you from outside. Then you can employ specific tools and techniques to help you detach from these negative thoughts so that they no longer control and influence your life and your well-being.
The third step is to discover who you really are. Who you are – or what you are – is not your thoughts, and is not limited to your body/mind. Who you are is the beauty and perfection of the universe manifesting as a human being. As you discover the truth of who and what you really are, this will help you begin to automatically heal whatever problems are plaguing you.
The fourth step is to befriend your body. Most people have an adversarial relationship with their bodies. The fact of the matter is that your body is your very best friend. From the moment of conception until the moment of death, your body is constantly and ceaselessly promoting and sustaining your well-being. Your body always has your best interests in mind. All you need to do is create the best environment possible and then leave your body alone and let it do what it is designed to do, which is take care of you the best it can.
The fifth step is to live with purpose. Many people suffer from a sense of apathy and meaninglessness. People wonder why they are here; what is the purpose in life; why live at all. The fact of the matter is that your very existence is purposeful. You are here on purpose and for a purpose. As you connect with the sense of purpose, it will also you to heal, body, mind, and soul.
Question: Some people criticize the idea of body acceptance and loving your appearance unconditionally, because it supposedly discourages people who are overweight or obese from getting healthier. What are your thoughts?
This is a very common question and nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a culture where fear is the primary motivator. People think that if they dislike themselves, then they will be motivated to change. This is based on fear and delusion and simply serves to perpetuate suffering.
There is no greater motivator than love – none. The more love the greater the power and ability to make whatever change you want to make in your life, whether it be getting healthier, changing jobs, improving your relationships, anything at all. Love is the one motivator that never decreases, that never wanes, because love in itself is infinite. It is inexhaustible.
Fear, on the other hand, has a very limited “shelf-life.” This is why people lose weight and gain it back and get caught in all sorts of cyclical patterns, like a hamster caught on a never-ending wheel. There is no freedom in fear.
Whenever you truly love someone, you want to do anything in the world to care for him or her, nurture him or her – anything at all. When you love someone completely, the only thing you care about is her well-being, her joy, her happiness, her love. Imagine a mother with her baby child. A mother who can embody and express motherly love will stop at nothing to ensure the survival and well-being of her child. Similarly, two lovers will do anything in the world to remain together.
Love is the true force – the true power – that will allow you to create and sustain whatever changes you want in your life. Simply think it through fully and you will see. Fear is inherently weak. Love is inherently strong. True love will overpower fear any day of the week. If you want to create lasting change and transformation, love has the power to lead you wherever you want to go.
Question: Your approach to improving body image has a strong spiritual component. Can you talk about this?
In my experience, and in my approach, the spiritual component is really the critical component. It is what allows true healing and transformation to occur. Now when I say spiritual, I am not referring to any particular religion or belief system. When I speak of spiritual, it is really about learning to connect with yourself, with your soul, with your inner-teacher that is always available, provided only that you are able to hear it.
The easiest and best way to begin to glimpse this part of yourself, to connect with your soul or your “self”, is through the process of meditation. Someone once said that you cannot fix a problem from the same level that you created it. You cannot fix your mind from the level of the mind. You need to step outside of your mind so that you can clearly see what is happening.
Meditation is the practice, the tool, which allows you to step outside of your mind so that your mind can begin to heal itself. Negative Body Obsession is truly a problem or a disease of the mind. It is based on delusional beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. Meditation is what allows you to see accurately what is happening so that the mind can begin to heal itself of this affliction and delusion.
Question: What is something readers can do right now to start improving their body image?
The single most important thing you can do is to tell yourself that you are already perfect, beautiful, whole, and complete. Who you are, or rather what you are, is already beautiful and already perfect.
I know this sounds impossible if you dislike your body and are struggling with your weight. Yet this is an important and in fact essential component to healing and creating a body and a life that you love. Who you truly are in reality is not the struggle that you are currently going through. Who you ultimately are is not limited to your body and your mind.
Who you are is the source of all beauty. What you are is already perfect. As you learn to shift your identity from your body-mind and the current struggles your might be experiencing, and place it instead on the reality of your perfection, the reality of your beauty, you will begin to transform the way you view yourself, and ultimately the way you view the whole world.
This might not make any sense to you at this moment, but simply become aware of the negative thoughts beliefs and feelings you have about your body and yourself. Whenever you find yourself caught in a negative dialogue with your body, remind yourself that what you are is already perfect.
Set an intention to discover this beauty and perfection. Set an intention that you will learn to see and experience the beauty that is inside of you in this very moment. Intention is the first step – set an intention for what you want to create, for what you want to experience. Set an intention to improve your body image. This will begin a process that will carry you exactly to where you want to go.
Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Purchase your copy of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, begin to love your body today! For more, please visit: www.sarahmaria.com, www.breakfreebeauty.com.