Personal Growth

Body Image: Ego or Transcendence

By Suzanne E. Harrill

How is your relationship with your body? Are you dissatisfied with the way you look? Do you secretly or openly say you want your body to be different? Maybe you criticize your complexion, hair, or the shape of your body? Maybe you weigh more than you did a couple of years ago, have to constantly watch the scale to maintain your current weight, or are at the other end of the continuum wanting to gain weight? Do you focus on your body image much of the time, watching your diet and exercising, yet your weight does not budge? Let us delve deeper to explore how we live our lives and can view our bodies differently. It is important, if you really want to love and accept yourself, to look at more than the physical aspects of yourself. Let us look at our lives and bodies from the perspective of the ego versus the higher Self. We will end with exercises and tips guiding you to live from a deeper spiritual perspective.

We are each the artist of our own life, including choices we make regarding our looks, what we eat, how we spend our time, the people we spend time with, our relationships, etc. The quality of our choices can be motivated by ego, the little self that is concerned with what others think, how we are doing in comparison with others, and competing to be number one, to name a few. Here we either win or lose, and it keeps us stuck in that thinking where we are either okay or not okay. The second way to make choices is by tuning into our Divine Nature, true Self, or soul. Here we want to be the best person we can be, living our life to the fullest, growing daily in awareness, healing our issues, building fulfilling relationships, adding goodness to the world and the lives of others, developing and expressing our gifts and talents, living with intention and mindfulness, etc. Here, health and wholeness rule. There is an emphasis on enjoying our life and appreciating our body, which we love and care for because they allow us to have a vehicle for this life in which to learn and grow, heal, explore, and enjoy. Paradox enters here, where two opposites can happen at the same time; we can have something that is not perfect about our bodies or that we judge about our bodies and at the same time appreciate such things as its functionality or the parts we do like. It does not mean we give up improving how we look, how we fit into our clothes, or how we feel ─ simply, we appreciate and accept where we are today, knowing the body allows us to experience the fullness of life. We can still set goals for self-improvement even when we learn to accept our bodies in the moment.

How do we make the shift from an ego-centered life to that of a transcendent life? Awareness is the key and the first step moving us in that direction. Whatever problems, issues, or lessons you deal with, including not loving your body or not taking care of your well-being, you can move in a more transcendent direction by remembering who you really are, a spiritual being having a human experience. Anything that keeps you stuck prevents you from growing and evolving. Just remembering that there are other ways to view impasses helps you stay centered, progress, and move in healthier, happier directions. Taking risks outside your frame of reference are needed to improve your life, including working positively with your body image. Getting in touch with and exploring your true nature can be done by going to therapy, reading books, meditating, taking classes and workshops, and talking to others more aware than yourself.

To move in a new direction set some alone time aside to ask yourself some soul-searching questions. Letís use desiring your body weight to be less as a starting point (substitute one of your own issues if this does not fit). Ask yourself questions, such as, "Why do I want to weigh less? How will my life be different if I lose weight? What patterns do I know contribute to my body being over my desired weight; examples: not listening to when I am hungry and full, overeating, usually taking second helpings, eating dessert often, snacking on bread and butter, drinking wine every evening? Where does my free-will choice suffer by not dealing with my emotional issues? Am I ready to study myself in order to determine what I am really hungry for and then take risks to get my real needs met? Do I love myself? What is my most negative thought about my body? When did I begin having negative thoughts about myself? Am I ready to heal my low self-esteem? What choices do I need to make to begin a new path? What new beliefs must I incorporate in order to achieve different results?

These types of questions help move you out of a negative rut by going to a deeper process beyond focusing simply on the physical aspects of weight management, such as how much you exercise and the calories you consume. They get you thinking about emotional and mental issues affecting your physical body. These questions are not a simple fix. They begin a healing process. Journaling about your answers may be helpful. Along with this type of self-inquiry there are helpful practices to deepen your relationship with your true Self and, thus, live a more fulfilling life. We will end here with two exercises to catalyze your inner, transcendent journey to help move you out of your ego into your true Self. Remember you are the artist creating your own life.

Exercise 1:

Begin your day with a spiritual practice. You may have one already. If not use this routine for a start: acknowledge 1-5 things for which you are grateful, set an intention for the day, and say affirmations to yourself.

If you have never focused on what is working in your life, expressing gratitude may be a new direction for your mind, so start with one thing that you are thankful for; it can be as simple as appreciating your growing awareness, or that you are alive, or that you have a job, or someone smiled at you yesterday. Over time you will notice things as they happen in your day that are blessings.

Second, set an intention. Examples of an intention for the day might be, to notice and identify how you feel once an hour (happy, sad, rushed, peaceful), to be more loving to your partner or family members, to let go of anger as you observe it in yourself, to allow time to nurture yourself, to journal write, or to feel your inner, spiritual strength. If you need outside help to get started, randomly open an affirmation book, such as my Seed Thoughts book, and use that topic as your intention.

Third, say positive things to yourself. It can be one thing such as I choose to take care of myself today. Following are two passages that I have written that may get you started, I am My Self and Affirmations for Inner Healing.

I Am My Self

I am a worthy and precious being, an expression of Life. I am re-awakening to the inner knowing that I am whole and complete. I stop hiding from living and being my true Self. I unconditionally love who I am.

The next step in the greater plan for my life is unfolding much like a rose bud beginning to bloom. I accept with excitement the challenge and responsibility of going to greater degrees of awareness. I spend quiet time alone daily to listen to and trust the greater wisdom within me to unfold, guiding me in making wise choices that support my growth.

I accept myself right now, this moment, the way I am, even if there are things about me I do not like and want to change. As I grow in awareness, I discover ways to heal and release habits, traits, and patterns of thinking and behaving that do not support me or reflect my true nature.

Inner peace grows daily as I forgive all people and events that have wounded me, including myself. I nourish myself with a loving support system that encourages me to take the risks I choose to take in order to grow and change. I accept their support when I stumble and fall, make mistakes, get confused, meet unbearable challenges, or stop my growth because of frustration or fear. I also allow them to celebrate with me when I reach mountaintops of striving and achievement.

I embrace each day as I live my life with ease, joy, awareness, and creativity. Resistance to what must be accepted melts away as I gladly move forward to change the things I can as I play the hand I was dealt.

I love being who I am Ė My Self.

Affirmations for Inner Healing

1. I am at peace with myself and accept my oneness with all life.

2. I draw from the wellspring of the Source to fill my heart with love, joy, peace, beauty, and grace. As I fill myself, I have more than enough to nourish myself and others.

3. My wisdom guides me moment by moment to know how to act, how to think, and what to say.

4. I accept the rhythm of life with its periods of great activity and fellowship with others and its slow periods giving me the opportunity to assimilate what I have learned and tune into myself.

5. I feel safe and secure, knowing the greater wisdom of the Universe (Spirit, God, Higher Power) is always there to listen, comfort, guide, teach, and heal me through meditation and prayer.

6. As I learn to connect more and more with my true Self, I give up all pain and suffering that I have caused myself by my misperceptions, beliefs, attitudes, actions, and choices. I fully accept responsibility for my life and find deeper meaning behind all experiences.

7. I forgive myself for being unaware and for allowing situations to continue that did not support my highest good and spiritual intentions.

8. I forgive others in order to stop the wounds of the past from coloring the present. I accept the power of Love to heal all pain and suffering so I can extend love to all others, even those whom I choose not to have an active relationship with, those that I islike, or those who have hurt me. Current grievances roll off my back like water off a duckís back.

9. In my new world nothing is a mistake, everything is of value for the upliftment of my consciousness. I take full responsibility to be the gardener of my life, continually planting new seeds of transformation and pulling the weeds of my miscreations.

10. Today is a new beginning in consciousness; and I use my creative power to draw to me situations and people that help me heal emotionally and spiritually, to move forward, and to actualize my potential.

11. I rejoice in my new life as I live from the full place of Unconditional Love, Light, and Power. I play the hand I was dealt willingly, joyfully, creatively, and with awareness. I love myself and appreciate my life.

 Note: to hear these 11 affirmations read by Suzanne go to:


Exercise 2:

Take a minute as you are awakening, going to sleep, or sitting at your computer. Close your eyes, deep breathe, and relax. Breathe in to the count of 4 or 6 or 8, filling your lungs, pause, then breathe out to the same count. If you are lethargic and need more energy make the in-breath longer than the out-breath. If you are too energetic and want to settle down, breathe out longer than you breathe in. Image your heart as a radiating sun with a point in the center. Feel energy radiating from this point, nourishing all the cells of your body.

Allow the energy to go beyond your physical form to penetrate all invisible aspects of yourself, the emotional, mental, and spiritual bodies. Keep going and see the rays of this loving sunshine moving to fill your room, house, office, neighborhood, city, country, and the world. Feel this unconditional love being absorbed by all others in your life and the world. Feel deep peace, joy, and your Divine Nature guiding you.






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