When Large Amounts of Delicious Food = Anxiety
Today, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving: a very food-centric holiday that, depending on your traditions, either encourages or mandates publicly expressed gratitude.
For many people, anxiety around their weight and food choices is also part of the annual gathering.
You are likely to hear friends and family mention dietary restrictions in an effort to lose weight, pass on dessert, or make remarks about how “bad” they’ve been for overeating.
I don’t blame anyone for any of that — there’s nothing wrong with experimenting with different diets, wanting to lose weight, or experiencing guilt around food. People have complicated relationships with food and their bodies and that’s okay. We’re all in different places on our body love journeys, and we can honor our own path while also honoring where someone else is at.
Belly Full of Gratitude
What I want to offer you today is permission to be thankful for your body. However it looks, whatever its health status is, no matter what other feelings you have about it, I encourage you to add gratitude to the mix.
It is so, so easy to think about our bodies only in terms of how they look or how they create inconveniences for us. But our bodies are the anchor for our entire human experience. When you think about it, spending so much time focusing on how bodies look, at the expense of noticing how they feel and the everyday miracles that happen inside of you to keep your heart pumping and your consciousness alive, is tragic. We just miss out on so much.
But not today!! Today we notice, and we give thanks.
Below is a prayer to give thanks to your body. (Personalize it as needed, of course! This is just an example.)
But before we get there, a few quick notes:
- I realize that bodies are beautifully diverse, and they offer equally diverse things to be grateful for. If some of this doesn’t apply to you, please adapt the language and include any additional reasons that you come up with.
- In tantric non-dualism (which I’m currently studying), there is no hierarchy of divinity between what is physical and what is non-physical. So this prayer is meant to be offered to your body directly, in acknowledgment of the consciousness and divinity it contains. If it feels strange to pray to your body, you are welcome to adjust the language of the prayer so you are thanking God / Source / The Universe / Divinity for your body in these ways.
Okay — here it is.
Thank you, body
that allow me to take in the beauty of sunsets, the smiles of loved ones, and the infinite knowledge and wisdom of ideas that are available to me through the written word
that can detect motion around me and warn me of potential harm
that can be met with someone else’s eyes and connect me with their soul
that can hear people laughing at my jokes
that keep me balanced as I move through the world
that allow me to experience the soul-healing and energy-pumping power of music
For skin and nerves…
to feel the snug and soothing embrace of a hug from someone who cares about me
that invite me back to the present moment and my own aliveness with every new sensation, pleasant or unpleasant
enabling me to feel such a huge range of sensations throughout my body: butterflies in my stomach when I get excited-nervous, waves of sexual pleasure, and the gut-wrenching sensations of fear and shame as they try to keep me alive and show me where I need to heal and grow.
For a nose…
that can smell memories in campfires, home cooking, the ocean, and perfumes
that gives me a second, more calming channel for breathing
that clears germ-y gunk from my body when you are fighting off a cold
For a tongue…
that I can use to playfully annoy my partner by licking his face unexpectedly
that can taste the bitterness of an IPA, the richness of a three layer chocolate cake, and the 4-star spice level of red chicken curry
that allows me to form words and sounds to communicate with others, sing, and express my voice in the world
For these gifts and so many more…
thank you, body.