The second step to food freedom is cultivating body awareness. Cultivating body awareness is all about becoming aware of your body through curiosity, not judgement, and being able to calmly accept your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations with awareness and compassion.
Changing your relationship with your body is a requirement (like a prerequisite) for healing your relationship with food. Improving the ability to sense and feel in tune with what’s happening in our body (body awareness) is correlated with a stronger body image.
Positive body image is a daily practice. Unlearning body dislike and cultivating a positive body image requires consistent practices and efforts. The goal isn’t to make it to where you never have a negative thought, feeling, or judgement again; that’s unrealistic. It’s about learning to relate to your body in a different way that feels less distressing and coming up with tools to help you work through these moments.
- Body appreciation: accepting your body regardless of its size or imperfections
- Body acceptance and love: expressing love for body even if you aren’t 100% happy with it
- Broadly conceptualizing beauty: believing and perceiving that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes
- Media literacy: being aware of fabricated, unrealistic images in media and rejecting messages that could harm your body image
- Unconditional acceptance from others: perceiving that people important to you accept your appearance
- Finding others with a positive body image: choosing to surround yourself with others who have a positive body image or are working towards it
- Spirituality: belief that a higher power designed you to be special and that you are the way you are for a reason
- Listening to and taking care of your body: taking a flexible, trusting approach to eating & practicing self-care
- Building resilience
- Reducing “acting on” negative body thoughts or unpleasant sensations
- Building a sense of knowing this wont last
- Cultivating community and connecting with people who really get it and make us feel like we aren’t alone (join the Sunny Thymes Tribe facebook community!)
- Developing the ability to use negative body image experiences as a way to learn more about ourselves and develop insights that help lead us to self-healing
Tools and skills for cultivating body awareness:
- Mindfulness: A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.
- Meditation: Meditation is one of the most powerful ways to practice mindfulness.
Meditation is both a skill and an experience — a formal exercise to cultivate awareness and compassion. By sitting with the mind, we’re training it to be more open and at ease, and we consequently discover greater calm, clarity, contentment, and compassion. In doing so, we increasingly learn to have a direct experience of the present moment.Headspace
- Self-compassion: Treating yourself the way you would a friend you really care about, becoming an inner ally rather than an inner enemy, offering yourself understanding and kindness even when you feel like you made a mistake.
Download my free self-compassion workbook here!
- Values: Getting clear on your personal values can help you take action in alignment with your most authentic self rather than reacting to a thought or emotional state
- Embodiment: Embodiment is tapping into what’s happening in the body and using the mind body connection for healing. A lot of our emotions, feelings and our human experience overall “lives” in different parts of the body and become aware of what’s going on is what allows us to work through those emotions. This can involve reducing body checking, body comparison and negative body talk as well as viewing your body as someone you are in a relationship with and must treat with kindness and respect.
Want to learn to use self-compassion to cultivate body awareness and positive body image? You can download my free workbook here!
Continue reading with the next step to food freedom: break free from the diet mindset!