Kayla Gladysz on Understanding our Bodies & Marveling in Our Flaws
This is such a beautiful, heartwarming piece. I hope you read these words just as you need them most - bisous!
The human body is a masterpiece.
We throw ourselves around most days without giving a moment’s thought to the billions of infinite Universe-particles that hold each together and the form bodies which host our expansive souls. Our bodies are complex, intricate and fascinating, and I encourage you to learn more about yours.
My experience with “body literacy” sparked after a poor experience with the birth control pill. A switch in brands threw my mental and physical states into turmoil; I felt like a stranger in my own body and brain. The pain of that experience opened me to new learnings, beyond what had ever been discussed in my high-school classrooms. Below are some of the ways I’ve begun to better understand my body. I’m not an expert on any of this, and I’m still on my own journey of discovery… but I hope my words will land somewhere with you, in the realm of what you need.
Be in your Body.
It’s difficult to get to know someone if you aren’t comfortable sitting with them for a good while. It’s even more difficult when this person has cultivated a bad reputation in society, because we might be scared to sit with them. This is how it can be with our bodies. We are reminded, constantly, of the ways our figures or faces don’t measure up to what we see in being praised. We feel resentment towards the very thing that serves as our home on this earth, and it can be painful to face what we’re feeling, how massive that negative weight is. However, if you’re reading this, if you’re on this website right now, I’m going to assume that you want to change this relationship. To begin this shift, I recommend mindful movement. Yoga, walking, swimming, dancing — whatever gives energy, but allows for space to reflect — make time for that. While doing these movements, try to be grateful instead of critical. Notice the way your body supports you in a yoga pose, or allows you to glide through water while you swim. The way that air fills your lungs and you don’t even need to tell your body to breathe! It just does it. Like magic. Notice this. You may find that noticing these details and feeling grateful for them encourages you to feed your body nourishing, healthy foods as a thank-you for all the experiences you have through it. This is good… embrace it.
Research your Hormones.
I had a poor time with birth control. That being said, this piece isn’t meant to bash hormonal contraception at all - it is a powerful tool and can be incredibly effective for those whose bodies agree with it. I do believe, however, in the importance of our choices being informed ones... and I feel that often, we aren’t given the whole story. Through my own research, I learned about the sympto-thermal method of fertility charting, and this has been the most impactful change in the way I view my body. Toni Weschler’s book ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility’ offers a detailed explanation of how this method works. It’s a way of tracking your basal body temperature and cervical fluid every single day, so that you know where you are in your cycle… because there are a number of places you could be! Menstruation is only one piece of the experience - we also cycle through follicular, ovulatory, and luteal phases, and our bodies thrive on different foods and activities at different times. ‘WomanCode’ by Alisa Vitti describes how to align lifestyle with cycle, so that we can optimize our experiences. Perhaps you’ll find that the sympto-thermal method speaks to you as it does to me. Maybe you love your IUD for its ease, your pill for its routine, or condoms for their physical barrier. Whatever your preference, I encourage you to do your research, understand the way that your chosen method interacts with your body, and get comfortable with the idea of it. Snuggle up to it! Align with it! Embrace it! Take interest in your hormones, learn about them, and make friends with them. You’ll feel a whole lot closer to your body when you do.
Consider the Soul.
This one’s probably going to read quite new-agey, but please...stick with me. Yoga and mindfulness meditation teach me that we are not our thoughts. We are not our hair, our fingernails, our words or our actions. There’s a quote that reads “You do not have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.” Acknowledging this, and I mean really acknowledging it, sends a wave of bewilderment over me every time. We are the universe experiencing itself, and we get to do so in the form of a little, beautiful human body on this big green and blue sphere floating amongst the stars. When we realize the ways that our bodies function automatically, complexly, and similarly to our fellow humans all while maintaining their own uniqueness, how can we not marvel at them? For instance, think back to what I mentioned in point 1 - our bodies breathe without being asked. Our bodies take air that is floating around us and brings it into our bodies in order to sustain our lives! WHAT.
We know when to eat because our body grumbles “feed me.”
Fear and pain inform us of danger… butterflies in our stomachs remind us that whatever we’re doing matters to us.
We can feel desire, joy, love.
We cry in sadness and deep happiness.
We put one foot in front of the other and suddenly we are walking. If something prevents us from being able to walk, we use creativity and innovation to find another way to move. Like magic.
Whatever you believe occurred to place human beings on to this planet, be it God, The Force, The Big Bang or beyond… it’s miraculous. Your body is a beautiful, magical miracle. Despite any flaw that you perceive, you are perfect. Your form is baffling. You are here. Savour it; make it sacred.