When you practice magick, you bring all parts of yourself to the table. In my case, this includes my eating disorder, my subsequent weight gain, and my exceptionally complicated and strange relationship with my body. I would definitely describe my feelings about my body as strange because they are conflicted and often do not make sense. I am not particularly self conscious about being overweight or fat, and I am in fact much less concerned with how people see my body now than I was when I was a size 8. However, I am supremely uncomfortable with how weak I have become, and how 20+ years of valuing my mind over my body led to the problems I have now.
I never really got the point of my body. I am an intensely cerebral person, very much fixated on my intelligence, thoughts, analytical ability, emotional energy, and emotional processing to help myself and others. Years of dealing with my anxiety and depression left me fighting the majority of my battles inside my head, and my body was basically left behind. I moved because I needed to get somewhere. I played sports because I enjoyed the camaraderie and competition. I didn't enjoy thinking about how my body felt, I would always push through any pain or discomfort I was feeling without wondering why, and I rarely took time to just enjoy the sensation of sunlight or a breeze or soft sheets. My journey into a magickal lifestyle has forced me to come to terms with this tendency, and to face the repercussions it is now having on my health.
Just as I have a complicated relationship with my body, I also have a complicated relationship with the body positive movement. I think certain campaigns are wonderful, but I also cringe when I see fat women putting down thin women in an effort to make their bodies seem normal or desirable. Personally, I don't think the mainstream message of "fat acceptance" is the most effective or holistic way to be body positive, and can actually be harmful when put in the hands of certain celebrities like Megan Trainor or Amy Schumer, who have both said very problematic things about thin women. To me, body positivity is embracing and engaging with our bodies at the same level that we engage with our minds, and not valuing things like intelligence or creativity over health, enjoyable movement, and body self care.
When I think body positivity, a certain friend immediately comes to mind. She completely inhabits her body. She engages every limb and muscle in her daily life, moves often, stretches when she feels the need, rests when she is tired, eats plenty of good food when she is hungry, dances, skips, claps, shakes her head, smiles, clasps her hands, and gives plenty of hugs and affection to her friends. She wears clothes that she likes and that fit well, not paying attention to the size or designer. She has big thoughts, and her body helps her mind deliver them. If she didn't live so firmly in her body, I doubt she would be able to communicate the wondrous thoughts and ideas she tells me about during our lunches nearly as well as she does. If I was to ask her, I am sure that she would be able to tell me about times that she didn't feel connected to her body, or didn't like living inside of it. But, overall, I think she has the hang of this body positivity thing in the most essential meaning of the phrase: owning, utilizing, and valuing her body as much as she owns, utilizes, and values her mind.
My practice has been an essential part in reconnecting me with my body and building the pathways between my mind and muscles and bones that I am so desperately craving. I've included a few spells and practices that I've engaged in at least a few times and found to be beneficial, and that are ever so slowly helping me regain strength and empowerment in my journey to eating disorder recovery.
1. Stretching as meditation
It is very hard for me to meditate. VERY hard. Sitting still is not hard for me, but my mind wanders a lot when I am not engaged in a task. However, it's also impossible for me to meditate if I am too busy or active, so stretching is way for me to find that balance between activity and quiet. I've started leaving my yoga mat in the living room (side note: I do not practice yoga on my own, I don't consider the stretches I do to be yoga) and doing about 15 minutes of quiet stretching in which I choose an intention for the day before I stretch. Sometimes I'll draw my daily tarot card for the day before I stretch and study it while stretching. I've never been very flexible, even when I was in shape, so it's a long road ahead of me. However, doing my stretches this way is much more enjoyable and feels less daunting than say, setting a goal of being able to do a half split by the end of the summer. Flexibility is not my goal, it's just a pleasant side effect of my goal towards being connected to my body.
2. Handmade crystal jewelry
I mentioned this in a previous blog post, but I've started making crystal macrame necklaces for myself and friends. I've been careful to choose crystals that I really connect with, like citrine, lepidolite, and rose quartz, all of which have self care, healing, and restorative properties. The weight of the crystals feel nice, and I use soft string that is comfortable in the summer heat. The necklaces give me something to do with my hands, and I don't notice them feeling uncomfortable like many of my store bought necklaces do. Feeling pretty and comfy is important for my sense of body positivity, because otherwise I just feel self conscious wearing jewelry that I constantly fiddle with, readjust, or take on and off.
3. Simple kitchen magick
In an effort to be both more budget and body positive, I have started making 90% of my meals myself. On a typical day, this looks like a smoothie and coffee in the morning, noodles, leftovers, or a salad for lunch, and a salad, beans, curry, or something hot for dinner. I also love to drink tea, and sometimes I'll bake for dessert. I've started doing small things to make my food a part of my practice, like blending my smoothie in three sets of seven seconds, for luck, or using homegrown herbs to infuse different properties into my dishes. I also like to give my food intentions while I am cooking, which can range from "inspiring good conversation" when cooking for friends, "keeping me alert and focused" for a hard work day, and many other things. It's not something I have gotten great at doing on a daily basis, but it certainly helps me feel more connected to my food by thinking about it's purpose and infusing little bits of magick into it that boosts my mood and overall well being.