Ours is (typically) a path that doesn't have established temples, and so often instead you hear the phrase “your body is your temple”. We are reminded that we are sacred and that our body is holy. I think this is a reminder that is very necessary in today's society where we are often told by media and the like that bodies are not desirable unless they are perfect (and photo-shopped!), that the physical is messy and somehow less than the spiritual and that if we don't like something that makes it bad (and somehow makes us bad as well).
I am not perfect by any means. And I don't just mean that fantasy perfect of the girls in the magazine (because they are all young too....age is just another flaw, or so we are told). I don't always love myself as much as I should. There are days where I just am really angry at myself for the way I look (for things I have control over, like weight), or wistful and wishing I looked different (for the things I have no control over, like height).
Now it's time for some brutal honesty. I am female, 36 years old, 5'10, and last time I weighed in I hovered around 230 pounds (we don't have a scale at the house). I have a lot of bad habits. I am not nearly as active as I should be. I spend way too much time on the computer (playing games as well as just loosing braincells to YouTube or other time killers).
I don't eat the way I should. We don't eat out that often, but partially due to budget issues, we definitely eat out of the freezer more than I would like (pre-packaged freezer I should say). But I also struggle a lot with serving size. I'm a grazer, and I know I have food issues that I haven't worked out because I don't just eat often, but I have a tendency to eat more at a sitting then I should. If there is half a serving of something left after everyone is done, I'm more likely to eat it then to put it away. My brain and body don't typically communicate well, so my body doesn't send a signal of being full.
I have some other mixed signals. In some ways I cross the pain/pleasure barrier. I can push through pain to reach that endorphin high. My stubbornness feeds into this, and I feel like I have to prove (mainly to myself, though a little to the world) that I can survive the pain, whether it is mechanical (like a bruise or scrape) or internal (like a headache).
All of this factors into my self-image, which in turn effects my path. I definitely struggle with feelings of self-worth, and so being able to fully commit to working towards a goal can mean starting in the hole. It's like having to fill in that gaping place of empty inside yourself, just to get on an even keel...and then you have to build up to where you want to be. Some days it just doesn't happen. What I have learned is to accept those days. On those days, I try to work on being with those feelings instead of trying to block them out. Sometimes that doesn't happen either, and at the end of the day I will realize that I have spent the whole day doing things who's whole purpose was to distract me from anything I might be thinking or feeling.
I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing. If it was frequent, I would worry, but most days I am good. And I think those darker times help remind me that there are places in myself that are not strong or stable or happy. And those slightly broken places emphasize the good in the rest of my life. When you stand on the other side of the pit, you can look back into the depths and see how far you have come. If everything is on the same level, then nothing looks up.
When I was first starting my path, I was in high school. I was definitely in a lower place then. I think, like many teens, I was struggling coming into my own, finding my place and figuring out who my friends were. Add in all those lovely, turbulent teen dating issues, and you end up with a roller coaster of emotions. I was very much a tomboy, and so any emotions I thought were girly were not something I was comfortable with. I tried to distance myself from it as much as I could. I embraced the harder emotions: anger and pain. I drew a lot of my power from those.
It took me a long time to break out of the cages I built around myself. I had worked so hard to deny my own emotions that when I started to let them back in, they weren't there. I had to go searching for the things I had run from.
I have scars, both physical and emotional. I am proud of my scars, for one reason or another. Some of them I am proud of because they were gotten when I was fearless and pushed forward even though I knew I might get hurt. Some I am proud of simply for having lived through the experience and not letting it destroy me. I think that our scars tell the story of our lives, and though we may look back and cringe, every mark we bear has built us into the person we are today. Without them all, we would be different.
The temple of my self isn't a huge gilded building with stained glass windows and marble floors. It doesn't gleam in the darkness and it isn't so clean you could eat off the floor. I've been in these kind of temples, and it is intimidating. You feel like you can only talk in a whisper, and like someone is watching you just waiting for you to mess up. You are afraid to touch anything because you might break it or leave a smear or fingerprint. You feel under-dressed and somewhat shabby no matter how nice your clothes are and how smartly you are done up.
I don't think that viewing the body as a temple means that you should strive for perfection. I do thin that it means that you should do your best to do what works for you. This might be very different from what society says you should do.
I don't diet. I don't tell myself I can't eat particular foods. In fact, I give myself permission to eat whatever I want. What I do is remind myself that every single time I eat more than is reasonable, I feel miserable, and I feel that way for hours. If I eat too much sweets or salt (I am more inclined to eat salty foods than sweet), then my tongue hurts (it's kind of wacky, but I will have a single taste bud get swollen and achy).
I do try to work out. And I tend to push myself too hard sometimes (it's that stubborn thing). And when I do it too many days in a row, something will smack me upside the head and make me stop. Last month it was my knees. I overdid the workout (with a lot of higher impact stuff than I should be doing), and my knees felt swollen for about two weeks. On the flip side, if I go for several days without doing anything physical, I just don't feel as good.
I am learning how to cry, and how to be okay with that. I find that the more I try not to cry, the more it feels like it is building up in my head. I am working on not being embarrassed with myself when I cry over crazy things (like commercials or hearing certain songs).
The temple of my self is well worn. The chairs are patched but comfortable. The carpet is stained, but thick. You take your shoes off when you come in, not because you don't want to track dirt in but because it lets them breathe.