July 11, 2017 Jessica Tsang 0Comment

A huge hit at our Urban Retreat discussion about social media and body positivity – we asked motivational speaker Karuna to write down some of her best thoughts on the topic for everyone to ponder.

Karuna recently served as keynote speaker for MPA’s Thrive wellbeing conference in Manchester. She is an internationally experienced meditation teacher, a corporate mindfulness consultant, and a personal mentor for those interested in the process of transformation. For more than 25 years, Karuna has gained experience throughout the world in the studies and teaching of mindfulness, meditation, wellbeing and yoga. She has undergraduate and advanced degrees and has worked in the U.S. Senate, for a multi-million dollar capital campaign and for National Public Radio Stations.

Body Positivity:  Lift the Veil of Unworthiness

Why is it difficult to be happy with our body?  Why are many of us in constant comparison with others? For eight years, I struggled with an eating disorder. I know well the journey of relentless comparison, shame and self-critcism.  I was never thin enough or perfect enough and I felt ashamed and guilty for judging others harshly.

Media reinforced my insecurities for everywhere I turned, the world banked on my unworthiness. Glossy images to get the car, the clothes, the beauty products, the job.  Then, I would feel worthy. I temporarily did. Then the cycle continued. I yearned to untie this knot that kept my heart so bound. Thanks to a healthy dose of desire, I did.

Understand the Storyline

When we’re very young, we develop individuality, a sense of “me.” At the same time, we recognised there are powerful forces in the world and, in the “me” identity we were not part of those incredible forces.  We feel vulnerable, fearful and sad. Then, we built that storyline: “I am alone, different, unworthy.”   To compensate, we move into endless cycles of proving our worthiness through competition, through purchases, through self-righteousness, through domination of others.

You’re Not the Only One!

Eastern philosophy shares that every person has this veil of unworthiness.  It is one of three major veils designed to help us grow, learn, and chart our course back to the fullness of our humanity. And then, to inspire others to also live in this fullness. If we are fortunate, we gravitate toward teachings, books, people and workplaces that support the fullness of our humanity.  Once you’ve tasted and savoured this potential there’s no going back.

“The only reason we judge others is that we, individually, do not feel full, nourished, secure and safe.” 

What does body positivity mean in 2017?

To me, body positivity means having compassion for your humanity, there is no need to be in “conflict” with yourself.  Our greater awareness flows through our humanity and we learn through our uniqueness, through our human-ness.  There is no need to “transcend” anything, but to give yourself permission to love your self as you are. It’s so important to emphasise your unique characteristics: play to your quirkiness!

It is also important to let go of an endless climb up the ladder of “perfection”, which does not exist. Ditch the comparisons: focus on what you do well and feed your body positive traits. Stand in your truth and help others with their awareness:  If you hear a friend being super judgmental, stand in your truth and (tactfully) call them on it.

How does social media affect body positivity? 

Social media and body positivity; the constant comparison wears us out and we start to buy into an ideal life that doesn’t exist and we feel lesser. In the portrayal of social media “perfection”, it can lead to a disengagement from reality in which we start to idealise a fantasy world that doesn’t exist. It can also lead to “bodyism” and judgement of other. In time, it can also fuel a dead end: a constant need for outer validation.

In a world where social media is so prevalent, what are some of your healthy habits to stay focused on your own wellbeing and happiness?

I limit social media time. I focus on humorous posts and content that feels like “we’re doing this together,” rather than “look at me! I’m showing off!”. Of the social media platforms, I favour YouTube and I watch humorous or informative videos. I swipe right past all the images of yoga porn or lifestyle porn. I call it out when a tendency to compare drifts in – “Oh, there’s comparison creeping in again!” I say to myself.  And, then I move on and I’m not too fierce with myself about it.

What are some key tips in shutting off your inner ‘critic’?

1) Call it out.  There’s my inner critic again, that I know oh so well!  There’s that cheerleader, sitting perched on my shoulder, with her black and blue pompons, ready to beat me up again.  Call her out and she won’t have quite the power!

2) Love her up!  From the earliest of ages, you wanted to be fully loved, exactly as you are.  Well, that didn’t work out for most of us.  Accept and love up your younger self and fill up that crater your heart with your own self acceptance and self love.

3) Feel unworthy because of the past?  The very purpose of life is to learn from the past. These are your actions today!  Let’s get on with it.

4) Make that decision you’ve been pondering for so long.

5) Be solution focused (ditch the blame).

6) Focus on what you do well! There’s no need to be threatened by another colleague’s skills (what a drain of energy!). Instead, focus on what you do well and support your personal skills.

7) Forgive. Yourself and others.

8) Guided meditation on loving kindness/loving awareness.

9) Gather with positive friends with who you feel comfortable and at ease:  They will help uplift and elicit the beauty of your soul.

10) In a fear-based office environment? Find your seedlings of self worth a challenge to grow?  Be smart …. and consider a new job.

Karuna currently is a 2017 Global Wellbeing Expert, specialising in mindfulness and meditation, for Aromatherapy Associates London.  She is often in Manchester for events, personalised sessions and programmes.  You can reach her at:  www.hubfortheheart.com

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