Dance is a way to honor our bodies and celebrate our lives. But to truly honor and celebrate something, we must first become conscious of its value.
Our bodies carry us through our entire life, supporting us and enabling us to do the things we love. Our bodies are our only true home from the moment we are born until the moment we die, growing and changing and transforming with us. Our bodies even have the capacity for creating life and bringing it forth into this world... yet how do we treat those bodies of ours?
How often do we speak about our bodies with shame, how often do we talk to our bodies with disdain, how often do we think about our bodies with sadness? How often do we feel frustrated for the things our bodies "can't" do or for the way our bodies look?
How rarely do we take the time to appreciate all the amazing things our bodies already enable us to do? How rarely do we marvel at the perfect balance of our automatic bodily functions that keep us alive and healthy in every moment?
Most of us think and speak about our bodies only with frustration and negativity and rarely if ever with appreciation and positivity. We take for granted all the amazing things we have to be grateful to our own bodies for.
And then maybe we learn to appreciate our body's ability to function, to move freely without pain, only after an accident or illness impairs that ability. Only then do we tend to learn how precious our bodies are and have always been, and how insignificant the criticisms over the way our bodies look or the things we think our bodies can't do really are.
It's time to start shifting the way we think and talk about our bodies every day. Let's move away from the frustration and move towards more love and appreciation. Let's try replacing criticisms of our bodies with wonder and gratitude, today and every day.
I like to end all of my belly dance classes guiding my students to give themselves a hug and thank their bodies for everything they do; all the functions we take for granted that keep us alive, healthy and in balance and free from pain.
And I'm not the only one. In one of her online classes, Brazilian belly dancer Ju Marconato spoke about the importance of expressing gratitude to our bodies for those very things. She talked about not waiting until we become sick to see the value in our health. She expressed this so beautifully that I decided to translate her message into English and share it with you today:
"Today I am thankful for the air that I breathe deeply through my lungs. I am thankful for my skin, my hair, my nails.
Have you ever stopped to thank your kidneys? Imagine life without your kidneys working. How much are your kidneys worth? How hard would you work to have kidneys that are perfectly healthy and whole? Is there a price for that?
That is true wealth! I am thankful for my kidneys.
I am thankful for my intestines, my spleen, my liver, and the perfect synchronized functioning of my internal organs. I am thankful for each cell of my body, each one perfect and healthy. How I am richly blessed...
I am thankful for my eyes. How wonderful it is to see colors, lights, to see the faces of the people I love. How important it is to have this channel of communication with the world. Do you see it?
Try putting a blindfold over your eyes for a day or just a few hours, and go about your daily activities or try to go outside.
When you take off the blindfold your perception will be more accurate, and will show you the grandiosity of being able to see.
This way a feeling of pure gratitude is installed in your heart, so you don't have to lose your health to be thankful for it.
I am thankful for my ears. How wonderful it is to be able to hear songs. Do you understand the magnitude of that?
Cover your ears for just 24 hours. When you uncover them you will be jumping in gratitude for the gift of hearing.
I am thankful for my legs that take me where I need to go. I'm thankful for my arms that hug and do work. I'm thankful for my hands that caress, nurture and cook. I'm thankful for my metabolism.
I am thankful for my heart. So much gratitude for my heart. This perfect and tireless machine that works 24 hours in my favor. Atria and ventricles working in perfect synchrony. It's a miracle. My heart is truly precious, it's invaluable.
I am thankful for my brain, my nervous system, my endocrine glands, my defense sells.
I am thankful because I am a magnificent expression of life. I am nature manifested in all its wisdom. I love my body. It is home to my spirit. I love my temple. Today I am grateful."
You are a magnificent expression of life. Your body is a marvel, a microcosm of nature, a unique and beautiful temple that deserves to be honored and respected. Cherish the wonderful things your body does for you today and every day, and observe how much more easily the dance of life begins to flow.
Yamê is a Brazilian-American
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