Yesterday was a magnificent day. The stars, the planets, the universe aligned for me and I am more grateful than I have words to express.
It started like any other day, I sat on my bed and watched the beautiful winter sunrise (anyone who follows me on Instagram will know my photos are mostly sunrises). Watching the sunrise in the morning makes me feel small and safe in our massive, beautiful universe. I breathed and did a little gentle yoga. I’ve been spending the first 20 minutes of my day like this for a few weeks now and it is instantly noticeable how much more awake and less achey it makes me feel.
Yet, within an hour of waking I felt a tightness in my chest and the middle of my back that had been there for the last few days. All this week I’d been feeling like I couldn’t breathe, like there wasn’t enough air and that the air that there was felt thick and hot. I nearly passed out in the cinema on Tuesday evening! Fortunately I had the house to myself so I sat quietly on my bed and listened in to what was going on inside my body. I noticed the tightness and began to do Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT). This involves tapping on certain points on your head and body whilst talking to yourself. It sounds a bit strange, I know, but it really works to release emotions. So I started tapping and acknowledging how I felt. In Louise Hay’s book ‘You Can Heal Your Life’ she attributes pain in the middle of the back as resistance to change/fear of letting go, so I acknowledged that. I’ve been doing a lot of work analysing my belief and behavioural patterns and fear of letting go is definitely a trait of mine. I’ve been coming to so many realisations about myself and my condition but I haven’t known where to go with them, which has been making feeling low. I can’t exactly recall what happened, as I went into a kind of meditative state, but I started to reassure myself that I am safe, that change is good and that I am willing to change. I actually started to sing the words which I’ve never done before! I’m glad the house was empty! The phrase “I am safe” filled me with a lot of emotion which I tapped on and I felt this wonderful release. The tightness in my back was melting away. Next came “I am happy and I deserve to be” and I started grinning and crying with happiness. I felt strong. I affirmed “I can feel it, I can heal myself, I am healing myself”. Afterwards I felt calm and strong.
In the afternoon I took myself to the cinema to see the documentary ‘Embrace’. It was created by a woman, called Taryn Brumfitt, who wanted to explore our relationship with our bodies after finally learning to love her own. She traveled all over the world talking to women who have overcome, or are still struggling, with negative relationships with their bodies. I cried, particularly at the section about eating disorders. She spoke to a woman who is still suffering from anorexia badly and she said “I wish that our weight didn’t change, that what we eat didn’t affect our weight and then I wouldn’t have to worry” (paraphrased). I remember thinking those exact thoughts and when I’m struggling I still think them. There were parts of the film that made me feel angry, but also lots of sections that made me smile and laugh. Mostly I felt empowered and inspired. The phrase that really hit home for me was when Taryn said “Your body is not an ornament, it is a vehicle”. Another new mantra for me! If women stopped worrying about what they ate, and how they looked, and spent that energy on doing something productive, imagine what we could achieve! The women’s marches that took place all over the world on this day were a positive sign of that shift in thinking. If we support each other, men and women, in the fight against injustice and prejudice we can make the world a better place.
The screening was organised by an amazing young woman called Kelly Terranova, an ambassador for Taryn’s Body Image Movement. I went and spoke to her at the end of the film and she was so kind and inspiring. She has set up a programme to help people to love and nourish their bodies after struggling with her own health battles. It was wonderful to see two other girls who are recovering from anorexia go to talk to her at the end and take one of her lovely self-care journals. Afterwards Kelly posted on Facebook that one girl, who is severely ill with anorexia, was allowed to come from her residential clinic to see the film and she told Kelly it changed her life. How amazing. It’s definitely changed mine too. I’ve put a link to Kelly’s website at the bottom of the page.
My day of awakening continued into the evening as I attended my first ever Wild Chocolate Club at my local community centre. I wasn’t sure what to expect, just chocolate and dancing was mentioned, but it was so much more than that. We gathered in a dark hall, illuminated by fairy and disco lights, with incense burning and strange music playing. We stood in a circle for a group meditation and then were given shots of raw cacao for a natural high. Before we could drink them we had to put an intention into them, I used my word for the year ‘harmony’. I certainly felt the chocolate hit my brain and release all those lovely endorphins I had been promised! Then the dancing started. We were guided through a warm up sequence journeying from our feet to the top of our heads. Next we were cleansed with a burning sage ‘smudge’, did some ‘fire breaths’ and the ‘ecstatic dancing’ could begin. The music was a fusion of trance and world music, some bangra and even 1950s melodies occasionally blended in, but all with a heavy, hypnotic beat. The idea was to dance with your eyes closed and just feel what your body wanted to do, to literally “dance as if nobody’s watching” as the saying goes. I started tentatively but the music got to me and I started to really move. The lady running the event said that some people experience visions; as I danced I saw images of myself when I’ve been so ill I could barely move and then I pushed them away with my hands. I felt so alive. I felt every sinew of my body and I loved it for being able to dance. The vision made me feel like I had shaken off the old, sick version of myself. After the dancing we collapsed onto the floor for a gong bath, which is where you let the vibrations of gongs and singing bowls wash over you. I certainly felt the love chemical then, I loved every person in that room, especially my friend lying next to me. I swear my heart was glowing visibly through my chest. I felt so calm and strong. Afterwards we sat in a circle again and one by one said a few words that expressed how we were feeling. I said “alive and present”. I felt so happy and in my own skin.
Even though my Saturday was full of wonderful experiences, I was realistic in how I would feel today, but I made an intention whilst I was dancing to be kind to myself today and rest. I do feel a bit achey and tired, but I don’t mind. I was given three beautiful gifts yesterday: the realisation that I have the power to heal myself, the empowerment to love my recovering body and the joy of feeling alive when I’ve previously felt broken.
‘Embrace’ and the Body Image Movement https://bodyimagemovement.com/embrace-the-documentary/
Kelly Terranova and Love Yourself Lean http://loveyourselflean.co.uk/about/
Wild Chocolate Club http://www.wildchocolateclub.com/
Woman and sunset image via Shutterstock