I have a friend named Melody (the estimable Dr. Melody Moore) who is a psychologist specializing in Eating Disorder recovery. I met her when I lived in Dallas before she began her own journey into teaching yoga, and I knew right away that I had met someone truly special. A couple of years ago, I found out that Melody had started a non-profit, the Embody Love Movement, and that she was starting to offer workshops called Inner Beauty Shops. She invited me to one held at the Embody Love Movement studio in Dallas, so of course I went to see what it was all about. And it changed me.
I became acutely aware of how much time I spent talking about and thinking about physical appearance.
Nothing was overtly different about me, but after the Inner Beauty Shop, I became acutely aware of how much time I spent talking about and thinking about physical appearance. And I realized how much time we all spend surrounded by people and media talking in one way or another about physical appearance. I started wondering how my self-deprecating musings about my physical body or the food I was eating was affecting the way I viewed myself, but more importantly, I recognized that these types of comments could harm the self-esteem of others.
What if this behavior was telling my clients and close friends and family that they too should be distracted by their appearance and food choices? What if it was teaching my boys that they should fear being “too fat” or “too thin,” and judge the worth of others based on their appearance? What right did I have to assuage my own insecurities by inducing and encouraging insecurities in the people around me?
I hadn’t realized the potential power in my offhand remarks, thrown about in an effort to fit into a conversation, easy to pull out from the plethora of verbal abuses I hurled at myself daily. I began to experience guilt about my role in perpetuating a society where we blindly demean ourselves and others while remaining ignorant of the effects. But chastising myself would only serve to preserve the status quo, while kindness toward myself could empower me to invoke change.
The Inner Beauty Shop turned the light on, making me self-aware in a completely new way. Once awareness is piqued, it cannot be easily buried, and in this case, awareness breeds discernment. I alone am responsible for the way I feel about myself and speak to myself, and the way I feel about myself informs the way I speak, behave, and treat others. We each choose in every moment whether we will contribute in positive or negative ways, and sometimes we choose poorly. We are human. But we can be aware of and accountable for our impact on the people around us, and the truth is, if we want to show real love and compassion for others, we must first learn to love and demonstrate compassion toward ourselves.
When we align what we think, with what we say, with what we feel, with what we do, then we are living and communicating with integrity.
Melody says that when we align what we think, with what we say, with what we feel, with what we do, then we are living and communicating with integrity. This line both humbles and inspires me every time I think about it, because the word integrity not only indicates morality, honor, and sincerity, but it also indicates a state of being whole and undivided. It is yoga, is it not?
Inner Beauty Shops can now be found all over the US and abroad, and they not only inspire great introspection, but they distinctly invite action. I attended facilitator training soon after my first workshop so that I could gain the tools to raise the level of awareness in myself and my community, and facilitating these workshops has been one of the joys of my life. Check out Embody Love Movement to learn how you can get involved.