by Robert Wilkinson
A friend recently emailed me and expressed frustration because her middle-aged body didn't look as good as she wished. Her dilemma arose because as a spiritual woman she felt like she shouldn't feel badly about something as transitory as the body.
I've always believed that most judgments about the body are unrealistic at any age, since we have limited ability to change our morphology. We cannot afford to be negative about the hand we were dealt at birth!
For example, a person with a Cardinal sign rising (Aries, Cancer, Libra, Capricorn) will have a different body type than a person with a Fixed sign rising (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, Aquarius) or a Mutable sign rising (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, Pisces). Since these physiotypes all are influenced by any planet in the Ascendant as well as the planet ruling the Ascendant, our body types are further refined by these and the signs they occupy.
These Ascendant signs and planets symbolize our genetics, which of course determine most everything about the physical vehicle we begin life with. What we do from there, what and how we eat, exercise, and how we respond to life changing events and stress have a major effect on the body for good or ill. Still, through it all we age. That's true both for humanity as well as all other life on Earth.
Also remember that due to other factors outside of what we can directly influence, efforts at manipulating the body sometimes have less of an effect than we would like. While exercise and proper diet are always good things to cultivate, there are factors in life that contribute to the aging of our bodies that challenge us to adapt without attaching negative judgments about how we think we look.
One big thing to consider is that we are not separate from our environment, which is fairly polluted physically, emotionally, and mentally. These all affect our bodies and contribute to the aging process. The amount of stress and how we handle it also affects how our bodies age.
Aging and the physical signs of aging are inevitable in the Earthly scheme of things. Unless we are a Master of Yoga living in a place free of stress and eating, drinking, and breathing only the purest of substances, we will age normally. Even Yogis and Yoginis age, just to a slower degree.
Very few of us are able to create those conditions, given the current global lessons in our interconnectedness. If humanity is learning to feel and know its connection to the One Life we all are together, then the degree of global suffering conditions the stress of our environment to whatever degree.
Objectively speaking, our bodies are in constant change. All life forms change all the time. All we can do is participate in that which is seemingly good for us in the moment, since this too will pass in the blink of an eye. In any case, loving our body is better than being discontent about its appearance.
This is why we must learn to stand aside from our judgments about how beautiful our body "should" look, since these inhibit our eternal freedom to love ourselves exactly as we are in the eternal NOW. If we release self judgments arising from negativity, we are free to accept who we are in the moment.
Paradoxically, I have also found that as we release self images and the inhibitions that go with any form of self image, our body naturally changes. As we learn to love ourselves, we no longer are resisting what is. Releasing inhibitions is akin to letting go of layers of clothes we no longer need to wear. That helps our metabolism in unsuspected ways.
The body is merely that - the body. It changes throughout our lives, and never really looks like an imaginary ideal. Much easier to draw a perfect body than to achieve one, and even then unless you plan on being a disciplined "body builder" every day for the rest of your life there will be inevitable sags and bags.
But the ultimate question is why is the body so important? I believe it's because it's the vehicle of Spirit. We are fascinated at how it changes while maintaining the eternal light of the Soul in our eyes.
Because of that, the inner will always be more important than the outer. Beauty radiates from within, and can be read on the face of anyone who knows their inner beauty. Even when it's not evident to our own view, there is always someone who can see our inner beauty and in witnessing that, mirror that beauty forth for us to accept.
It is inevitable that more than a few facial lines and body sags and bags are the lot of an aging body of organs strung on a skeleton held together by a sack of skin. And yet, it's always been interesting to me that truly beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it's everywhere if we choose to see it.
I've seen beauty in apparent ugliness, and ugliness in apparent beauty. A stretch mark is beautiful as it's the living record of making and carrying life. A facial line is beautiful as it's the living record of character. Crows' feet show we have smiled often. Our hands show us the tools for creating our life experiences. Skin is beautiful at every age, each appropriate to that chapter of life.
So each time you go to a mirror and behold the living Soul you are, do not lament the aging of your body. Do the exercise and diet appropriate to your circumstances, strive to live well, and love yourself all the more for the Eternal Love you ARE.
Aum Namah Shivaya!
© Copyright 2011 Robert Wilkinson