We have a guest post today from a good friend of Writing Ourselves Whole, Danielle Ragan, personal trainer, health coach, fitness instructor, teacher as well as writer and all-around generous being. She shares with us today her thoughts about body love in the aftermath of trauma, and offers from her practice an exercise that anyone can use to enter into a month of deeper self-acceptance and radical, embodied self love.
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A beggar had been sitting by the side of a road for over thirty years. One day a stranger walked by. “Spare some change?” mumbled the beggar, mechanically holding out his old baseball cap. “I have nothing to give you,” said the stranger. Then he asked: “What’s that you are sitting on?” “Nothing,” replied the beggar. “Just an old box. I have been sitting on it for as long as I can remember.” “Ever looked inside?” asked the stranger. “No,” said the beggar. “What’s the point? There’s nothing in there.” “Have a look inside,” insisted the stranger. The beggar managed to pry open the lid. With astonishment, disbelief, and elation, he saw that the box was filled with gold.
I am that stranger who has nothing to give you and who is telling you to look inside. Not inside any box, as in the parable, but somewhere even closer: inside yourself.
Greetings! Who is this random guest blogger that Jen has writing in this week’s post, you may ask? I am but that stranger guiding you to look inside…inside yourself. I may be that stranger for you now, but the beauty about strangers is that all strangers are only companions whom we have not yet met.
My name is Danielle Ragan. And if work were to determine my being, by profession I am a personal trainer, health coach, fitness instructor, teacher, but in my true being I am simply a liver of life!
It is with one of my true passions in health and wellness that I enter into this bog with you today. Health of our bodies is one of those gifts that we do not realize until it is gone. And in survivors of violence and trauma it is often hard to fathom our bodies because they are often the things that produced our greatest pain. We may often feel betrayed by our bodies, ashamed of our bodies, fearful of our bodies.
In this month of Love, I challenge you to ask: “Where is the love for our bodies?”
Despite how our bodies look, despite how we view our bodies at this present moment, our bodies are the birthplace of creativity, love, beauty, and the true healing that we seek.
Having had my body experience the pain of another taking it over, using it as their own, I know what it means to disdain your body, to feel ashamed of your body, to feel afraid of your body. You may be in this mindset today as I have been before, and this is an okay place to be. Acknowledge where you are at this moment.
Previously your body may have done what it needed to in order to survive. You are here now, and now there is something more for your body. Here we will walk together back on that path to our bodies and our desires of health. For in our bodies there is acceptance, growth, whole-hearted love, extreme beauty, and overwhelming power.
As Maya Angelou said, “There is not agony like the untold story inside of you.” While Jen helps you take back the pen and live a life empowered in your story as a creative author, I offer a chance to walk together on the journey to reclaim the internal, tangible form of ourselves; living empowered in our bodies, in health, wellness, beauty and love.
Before we were our stories, before we were what happened to us, before we were what changed us, we were us. We were our divine selves in our bodies.
In this month of Love, let us use each morning to commit to loving our bodies through physical movement. To do this, I invite you to join me in a fun activity, for what good is physical movement if it is not fun!?
For this activity we will each need a deck of cards. Each card’s suit and number will serve as our guides for how we will move our bodies each morning.
On a piece of paper write down each suit and 4 types of movements in which you find enjoyment, in which your body feels alive. Each of the 4 movements should correspond to one suit: hearts, diamonds, clubs, spades. Your movements are up to you. They could be Sun Salutations, jumping jacks, push-ups, walking one block… whatever makes your body feel alive.
After you have written them down put the paper somewhere that you will see this beautiful commitment you are making in loving your body this month. Decorate it! Glitter, colors, jewels, make it something special for yourself.
With this we will have created 28 days of committed beauty for our bodies and offered our divine selves a chance to connect back with our source, our wonder, our power, our creativity in our bodies.
Then, every morning of this month I invite us to find that connection with our bodies as we choose a new card from our deck. The suit will indicate our chosen movement and the number will determine the amount of times we do the movement (Ace=1, Jack=11, Queen=12, King=13). So, if we wrote jumping jacks under the suit Hearts, and we draw a 5 of Hearts, we will perform 5 jumping jacks that morning.
Every morning choose a new card. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath in. Embrace that moment to feel alive. Then begin your movement, whatever your morning draw destined.
In finishing your movement, again take a deep breath and feel the energy you created in your body. Feel your heart beating, feel your breath in and out of your lungs. Feel the beauty you created pulsing through your body. Take 10 deep breaths relishing in this moment.
All of that power, that energy, that sense of accomplishment that we feel, lies within each one of us, just as it did for the beggar. Feel empowered within and carry it without, into our days and into our lives, bettering the world around us, one incredible movement at a time.
I would love the opportunity to connect with you more on this journey with your beautiful body. Connect with me on my blog as I invite you to comment with your “luck of the draw” daily movements. Here we will inspire each other along the way as we make the commitment to love up our bodies this month! Also, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, or to hear of ways to further engage in committing to our bodies on our journey toward true healing.
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Thank you, Danielle, for this beautiful exercise and invitation into a deeper body acceptance and body love! Please do let us know if you try out her practice! A 28-day course of self-appreciation can begin anytime. I’m going to get it started for myself today. Here’s to the good and ongoing work of remembering how it feels to be in our bodies, to love and appreciate our good and tender bodies. Thank you for continuing in this work for your healing today, and thank you for your words.