All posts by sarah.maria

About sarah.maria

Sarah Maria is a body-image expert who helps people love their bodies no matter how they look. She shows people how to discover the beauty that is already inside of them, right now, in this moment.  Once they connect with this beauty, they will discover that anything is possible - that they can create a body and a life that they truly love.  Her mission is to create a world where every person sees the beauty in themselves and in others. 

 Her book, Love Your Body, Love Your Life, will be released in November of 2009.  Sarah Maria has studied and trained with well-known teachers and physicians, including Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, Wayne Dyer, and Jack Canfield, among others.  Her work has been endorsed by Deepak Chopra, Dr. David Simon, and NY Times best-selling author Marci Shimoff, as well as many other notable physicians, psychologists, and educators. Before writing her first book, she received a law degree from Stanford and a Master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University.

You Were Born Beautiful


Hello beautiful Intent friends,

I wanted to let you know about an upcoming course I am teaching titled You Were Born Beautiful – How to Discover and Experience Your Inherent Perfection.  You can learn about it at www.breakfreebeauty.com/beautiful.  Details are below.  I would love to have you join!  Love always,

Sarah Maria

 You Were Born Beautiful









You Were Born Beautiful

Every single baby is born beautiful. A baby is not beautiful because of what it does, how much money it makes, what kind of relationships it has, how much it weighs, or any other factor. No, a baby is beautiful simply because – simply because it exists. Seems obvious, right?

Now here is the secret: as you age, as you develop, you never lose this inherent beauty. It simply continues to grow and develop – your life is your beauty unfolding.

Do you relate to yourself as a beautiful baby? Or do you relate to yourself as tired, worn-out, wrinkled, overweight, or somehow deficient in some way? Do you see your life as your beauty unfolding, or do you experience it as a struggle, a stress, a strain?

This course is an exquisite invitation to help you see the beauty and perfection that is already inside of you in this very moment. It has been with you since the day you were born, and it will always be with you. Are you willing to live the reality of your perfection? Or are you resigned to continue to live a life of delusion based on the mistaken idea that you are not quite perfect exactly the way you are?

This course is an opportunity to let go of everything that is not serving you, will not serve you, and cannot serve you. And it is an opportunity to step into the grace that can fill your life with magic, mystery, and beauty. It is a great value, truly, with 3 full-class sessions and 2 hour-long private coaching sessions with Sarah Maria. The value of the coaching sessions alone is $500, and the entire course is being offered for $347.

Take advantage of this wonderful resource to help you transform your life by visiting http://breakfreebeauty.com/beautiful/.

 

How to Listen to Your Heart

Year of the HeartFor me, 2010 will be the year of the heart.

In the West, most people think of the mind as being the source of insight, wisdom, knowledge and guidance. People think that the mind is where they will find the answers to life’s most important questions; it is where they think they will discover how to live. And yet for most people the mind is the seat of ignorance, confusion, and difficulty.

In other traditions, and in my own experience, the heart is the true seat of wisdom and knowledge. The mind get confused; the heart loves. The mind questions; the heart knows. The mind worries; the heart relaxes.

Now don’t get me wrong – the mind can be a very useful tool. When kept in its proper role, it is an incredible asset. But it should remain a servant, not a master. 

As you learn to focus on your heart instead of on your mind, you will discover a whole new way of being in the world. You will be able to tap into wisdom, insight, and guidance that you never before imagined.

So consider this as a start for 2010: turn your attention to your heart; connect with the feeling of love, and share your love and gratitude. Are there people in your life who evoke a feeling of love? Did you experience blessings in 2009 that evoke a feeling of gratitude? Focus on these people or these blessings. Let them evoke the feelings of love and gratitude, and let these feelings pour out from you and gently guide your life.

Now one thing about this practice, and about following the path of the heart more generally: I am not promising that it might not be messy. Hearts can be broken. You can share your love and gratitude and have it rejected, and that hurts. You can give everything you have, offer all the love you can, and still feel hurt, betrayed, abandoned, unloved. There might be bumps, bruises, cuts, and scratches as you offer your tender heart.

But in my experience these pains and these hurts are never the end – they aren’t the final say. They don’t have the final word. The more you love, the more you give, the purer your heart becomes. Now this does not mean deplete yourself, abandon yourself, or deny yourself. Quite the contrary: it means love yourself completely; give yourself everything, and let this love become your life.

GratitudeAlways start by offering yourself love first. When you truly love yourself, you love others. For when you know how to love yourself, your heart becomes full. And your love begins to flower – it begins to bloom.  You can begin to offer it, without regard for whether it gets returned or not. Your love might be returned; it might be reflected back to you. It might be rejected and denied because of someone else’s closed heart. But it does not matter. None of that matters. Because the love lives you; the love gives you. Your life becomes an expression of love and is complete in-and-of itself.

And the more this love flowers from within, the more beautiful the world becomes. Unexpected blessings flow into your life; grace finds you and begins to penetrate your being.

So in 2010, let your love flower. Love is not another item on your to-do list. Simply let it flower. Let it grow within your heart and radiate outward. And from this place of fullness, offer love to yourself, offer love to others, offer love to the Divine. Let your entire life become an expression of love and gratitude, for this life is truly an exquisite gift to be both given and received.

Wishing you a year filled with peace, love, and beauty always.

 

The Surprising Truth about Weight Gain, Body Image, and Eating Disorders

So much has been written on the topic of weight gain, eating disorders, and body image, and, by all appearances, the problem is getting worse. Statistics shows that 95% of women dislike their bodies and their physical appearance, and now this rampant dissatisfaction has extended to men as well. Once thought to be the focus of teenage girls, studies are showing that eating disorders are increasingly prevalent among middle-age adults, and even beyond.

Is this gnawing discontent unreasonable? With obesity numbers reaching staggering proportions, you may very well think disgust with one’s physical appearance is a normal, and perhaps even a healthy problem to have, if it helps people change their diets and their lifestyles. Then, of course, there is the advent of ever-new disorders, such as pregorexia (compulsively restricting food intake during pregnancy, which impairs the healthy development of the fetus) and orthorexia (an obsession with eating healthy, organic foods).

Is there any solution to this ever-growing and ever-present problem? Or are we doomed to be a population condemned to ever-expanding waistlines, and an ever-increasing obsession with how we look and what we eat?

There is a way to end these ailments, whether you are overweight, or have a distorted view of your body, or find yourself obsessing when you need to order non-organic. Yet, contrary to popular opinion, the solution doesn’t come from solving the problem, per se. Rather, the solution comes from seeing the problem as an opportunity.

Now wait – before you silently yell obscenities at me (What do you mean my life-long affliction with food and with my body is an opportunity?!?!?!?!), and stop reading this article immediately – stay with me for just a second – give me a moment to explain what I mean.

As long as you consider your struggle to be a problem, you reinforce your belief that there is something wrong with you that needs to be fixed. If you are overweight, and especially if this has been a life-long or at least a long-term challenge, you probably have a story or two about what is wrong with you. It might sound something like this:

“I am lazy.” “I just like food too much.” “I can’t stay away from sweets.” “I have no self-control.”  

 

“I am a fat slob – I will never have the body I want.”

Depending on your particular disorder, your story might also sound something like this:

“I must be thin.” “I will hate myself if I gain weight.” “I wish I had her body.” “If I eat, I will get fat.” “I must exercise all the time or else I will gain weight.”

Now, in the beginning stages of body-image struggles and eating disorders, you may convince yourself that you do not have a problem, that everything is fine, and that you are perfectly normal. Yet after living in the mental hell described above for a while, you start to get a sneaking suspicion that something might be wrong. You get the notion that maybe you are not living with all the peace, tranquility, and love that is possible.

At this stage, you become convinced that you have a problem and are in need of a solution. You come to believe that something is inherently wrong with you. You know that there is more to life, that you are capable of something great, but you are stuck in a web of pain and suffering, not sure which way to turn.

In my experience, having healed myself of a negative body image, eating disorders, and obsessive-compulsive behavior that lasted for well over a decade, I have found the following to be utterly transformative:

Your greatest struggle, your deepest pain, your most desperate confusion, holds the keys to your transformation. The secret is in shifting how you look at your problem. Instead of seeing it as a problem, consider it an opportunity. Now, it is up to you to discover the opportunity. It is easy for others to point out a problem to you, but you alone can uncover and in fact create an opportunity out of your adversity. Every challenge holds the keys to unlimited blessings; you need only become aware of your ability to transform your reality, and then stay open and alert to possibilities that come your way.

According to eastern wisdom, we all have within us the ultimate guru or teacher. This teacher is always with us, always calling us to discover our true greatness, our inner-being, that part of ourselves that is magnificent, grand, and wondrous, that part of ourselves urging us to live our very best life.

Unfortunately, very few of us learn how to listen to this inner-teacher as children. As we go throughout life, we lose our connection to ourselves, becoming increasingly tossed to-and-fro by the challenges and adversities of life. Our life becomes a mess of problems and adversities.

These problems, whatever form they take, are opportunities in disguise. They are calling you home. The challenges you face grab your attention. When you don’t listen, you find yourself stuck in a seemingly disastrous web of suffering, possibly unable to stop eating despite the health risks of your weight, unwittingly starving your own child because of your insecurities, refusing to eat after your recent divorce, or whatever form your particular suffering takes.

Yet you always have a chance to return home. You always have the opportunity to dive within yourself and connect with this inner-teacher. No matter how much pain and suffering you our experiencing in any moment, you always have the choice to stop, close your eyes, look within, and seek to discover the seeds of opportunity that are latent in your current adversity.

So whether you, yourself, are struggling with excess weight, an eating disorder, a negative body-image, or any other problem, or if a friend or loved one is struggling, here are a few simple steps to help you connect with your inner-guide an unleash the opportunity that will transform your adversity into a great blessing:

  1. Consider the possibility that your problem, whatever it is, holds the seeds to opportunity. Just being open to this possibility will create a shift inside of you. 

  1. Take the time to go within. There is no substitute for diving deeply within yourself. As the teacher Krishnamurti once said, “In oneself lies the whole world, and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand.”

Traditionally, going within is accomplished through the practice of meditation. There are many different styles to choose from – the key is to make meditation a regular part of your daily routine. Regular meditation yields tremendous health benefits, both physically and psychologically, and it also helps you tap into your inner wisdom.

  1. Find a teacher, guide, or a coach who can help you explore your internal landscape. When you are at the beginning stages of getting to know yourself, when you are beginning this path of spiritual and personal inquiry, a teacher, coach or guide is extremely valuable. This person could be a psychologist, a spiritual teacher, a yoga instructor, or a life coach. Look for someone who understands where you are coming from and a person to whom you feel a connection. Often this emotional bond is the most important component in getting you the assistance you need.

 Remember always: you can transform any adversity into opportunity. Your greatest pain and greatest challenge can be your greatest gift to yourself and to the world. Dive within and discover the keys to create a body and a life of your dreams.

 

Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, for true, lasting healing. Purchase your copy, begin to love your body today.  Visit: www.sarahmaria.com, www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Part 2: Author Interview with Body Image Expert Sarah Maria

Part II:  Excerpts from an interview with Body Image Expert Sarah Maria on her new book "Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happiply and Confidently".

Question:  In your book Love Your Body, Love Your Life, you present the five steps for ending NBO. Can you talk about these steps?

The first step is to set an Intention. This is the first step in creating what you want in life, in creating and experiencing a body and a life that you love.

Step Two is to Identify and Detach from Negative Thoughts. This is all about becoming aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis, discovering that they are not your own, that they were given to you from outside. Then you can employ specific tools and techniques to help you detach from these negative thoughts so that they no longer control and influence your life and your well-being.

The third step is to discover who you really are. Who you are, or what you are, is not your thoughts, and is not limited to your body/mind. Who you are is the beauty and perfection of the universe manifesting as a human being. As you discover the truth of who and what you really are, this will help you begin to automatically heal whatever problems are plaguing you.

The fourth step is to befriend your body. Most people have an adversarial relationship with their bodies. The fact of the matter is that your body is your very best friend. From the moment of conception until the moment of death, your body is constantly and ceaselessly promoting and sustaining your well-being. Your body always has your best interests in mind. All you need to do is create the best environment possible and then leave your body alone and let it do what it is designed to do, which is take care of you.

The fifth step is to live with purpose. Many people suffer from a sense of apathy and meaninglessness. People wonder why they are here; what is the purpose in life; why live at all. The fact of the matter is that your very existence is purposeful. You are here on purpose and for a purpose. As you connect with the sense of purpose, it will also you to heal, body, mind, and soul.

Question:  Your approach to improving body image has a strong spiritual component. Can you talk about this?

In my experience, and in my approach, the spiritual component is really the critical component. It is what allows true healing and transformation to occur. Now when I say spiritual, I am not referring to any particular religion or belief system. When I speak of spiritual, it is really about learning to connect with yourself, with your soul, with your inner-teacher that is always available, provided only that you are able to hear it.

The easiest and best way to begin to glimpse this part of yourself, to connect with your soul or self, is through the process of meditation. Someone once said that you cannot fix a problem from the same level that you created it. You cannot fix your mind from the level of the mind. You need to step outside of your mind so that you can clearly see what is happening.

Meditation is the practice, the tool, which allows you to step outside of your mind so that your mind can begin to heal itself. Negative Body Obsession is truly a problem or a disease of the mind. It is based on delusional beliefs, thoughts, and behaviors. Meditation is what allows you to see accurately what is happening so that the mind can begin to heal itself of this affliction and delusion.

Question:  Some people criticize the idea of body acceptance and loving your appearance unconditionally, because it supposedly discourages people who are overweight or obese from getting healthier. What are your thoughts?

This is a very common question and nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a culture where fear is the primary motivator. People think that if they dislike themselves, then they will be motivated to change. This is based on fear and delusion and simply serves to perpetuate suffering

There is no greater motivator than love – none. The more love, the greater the power and ability to make whatever change you want to make in your life, whether it be getting healthier, changing jobs, improving your relationships, anything at all. Love is the one motivator that never decreases, that never wanes, because love in itself is infinite. It is inexhaustible.

Fear, on the other hand, has a very limited shelf-life. This is why people lose weight and gain it back and get caught in all sorts of cyclical patterns, like a hamster caught on a never-ending wheel. There is no freedom in fear.

Whenever you truly love someone, you want to do anything in the world to care for him or her, nurture him or her – anything at all. When you love someone completely, the only thing you care about is her well-being, her joy, her happiness, her love. Imagine a mother with her baby child. A mother who can embody and express motherly love will stop at nothing to ensure the survival and well-being of her child. Two intoxicated lovers will do anything in the world to remain together.

Love is the true force – the true power – that will allow you to create and sustain whatever changes you want in your life. Simply think it through fully and you will see. Fear is inherently weak. Love is inherently strong. True love will overpower fear any day of the week. If you want to create lasting change and transformation, love has the power to lead you wherever you want to go.

Question:  What is something readers can do right now to start improving their body image?

The single most important thing you can do is to tell yourself that you are already perfect, beautiful, whole, and complete. Who you are, or rather what you are, is already beautiful and already perfect.

I know this sounds impossible if you dislike your body and are struggling with your weight. Yet this is an important and in fact essential component to healing and creating a body and a life that you love. Who you truly are in reality is not the struggle that you are currently going through. Who you ultimately are is not limited to your body and your mind.

Who you are is the source of all beauty. What you are is already perfect. As you learn to shift your identity from your body-mind and the current struggles your might be experiencing, and place it instead on the reality of your perfection, the reality of your beauty, you will begin to transform the way you view yourself, and ultimately the way you view the whole world.

This might not make any sense to you at this moment, but simply become aware of the negative thoughts beliefs and feelings you have about your body and yourself. Whenever you find yourself caught in a negative dialogue with your body, remind yourself that what you are is already perfect.

Set an intention to discover this beauty and perfection. Set an intention that you will learn to see and experience the beauty that is inside of you in this very moment. Intention is the first step – set an intention for what you want to create, for what you want to experience. Set an intention to improve your body image. This will begin a process that will carry you exactly to where you want to go.

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today. To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her website at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Author Interview: Sarah Maria on Love Your Body, Love Your Life

Part I:  Excerpts from an interview with Sarah Maria on her newly released book Love Your Body, Love Your Life: 5 Steps to End Negative Body Obsession and Start Living Happily and Confidently.

Question:  I’ve heard many people say that disliking your body is just a normal part of being a woman [or a man in today’s culture]. What do you think about such a statement?

I am glad you asked this question because I address it specifically in Love Your Body, Love Your Life.  Yes, many people, probably most people, say that disliking your body is a normal part of being a woman.  If by “normal” they mean that the majority of women, 80-90%, dislike their bodies, then yes, it is “normal”.  The vast majority of women in this culture at this time do dislike their bodies.

But to think that this is normal as in natural, as in necessary, as in a normal function of being alive, is ridiculous. This belief is part of the problem.  Since it is so ubiquitous, many women have come to accept that it is just part of being a woman.  This is ludicrous!  It is settling for what happens to be the situation for many, instead of envisioning the possibilities that are available for all.  It is accepting mediocrity instead of creating grandeur.  It is maintaining the status quo instead of envisioning the truth.
 
Disliking your body is only normal in that most women experience it.  It is in no way natural, and in no way necessary. You have the ability in each and every moment to love your body and love your life. Negative Body Obsession is a modern cultural epidemic. It has not always existed, and it need not always exist. It is in no way a natural part of being alive and can therefore be completely eradicated from your psyche and experience.    

Question:  What led you to write Love Your Body, Love Your Life?

I decided to write this book because I experienced first-hand the intense pain, suffering, and agony that can accompany Negative Body Obsession, eating disorders, and low se lf-esteem. I also know that freedom from this hell is completely possible. I want this book to reach people who are struggling with any and all of the above.

I also wrote this book to help people think critically about concepts such as beauty, as well as the beliefs, thoughts, and ideas that so many people take for granted. Beauty is a socially-constructed phenomenon. Different body types, different looks, different sizes are considered beautiful at different times in history. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, curvy and voluptuous was considered stunning. In this culture in this century, thin and muscularly toned is considered sexy. When people recognize that there is no inherent truth in these concepts of beauty, that it is in fact a cultural preference that changes overtime, it helps to dissolve this illusion that how they look is somehow tied to their value and self-worth as an individual.

For many people struggling with a negative body image, they believe that how they look is somehow indicative of, or related to, their self-worth as individuals. Nothing could be further from the truth. When people realize that it is a cultural phenomenon, they can begin to free themselves from the whims and preferences of other people and the world around them, and instead discover and experience their own inherent and unique beauty.  

Question:  In Love Your Body, Love Your Life, you teach readers how to break free from Negative Body Obsession or NBO. What exactly is NBO?

Negative Body Obsession, or NBO, is the negative rumination about one’s physical appearance. It is the entire delusional thought-construct that causes people to believe that something is wrong with their bodies and themselves. It encompasses thoughts such as "I am too fat"; "I would be more attractive if I lost weight"; "I looked so much better when I was younger"; "I need to purchase anti-wrinkle cream – I look so old!"; "No woman will find me attractive without my hair"; "The cellulite on the back of my thighs is hideous".

These are just examples – only you know your particular negative body thoughts. Negative Body Obsession is essentially the condition of having negative thoughts and beliefs about your body and yourself.

It is important to know that NBO exists on a spectrum. You might have an occasional negative body thought that affects your mood and well-being, or you might live with a near-constant barrage of negative body thoughts on a daily basis. No matter whether your condition is mild or severe, complete freedom is possible. Many people think that it is a “normal” part of everyday life, and therefore it is considered acceptable on some level. In reality, there is nothing normal about it, and if it affects you, if even just a little bit, you are not living with all the freedom that is possible.

Question:  The media plays a role in fostering body dissatisfaction. In your book, you write “when you master the art of talking back, you can reclaim your control and become an influencer of the media, instead of being a victim influenced by the media.” What are the ways we can talk back?

There are many ways to talk back. In fact, you can probably think of many powerful ways to talk back to the media. I outline a specific exercise in Love Your Body, Love Your Life but the key theme underlying any talking back to the media, or any other “influencer of your thought life”, is by refusing to participate in the process of internalization.

The problem with the media occurs when you allow it to influence you, when you allow the messages to be internalized. The problem occurs when you look at a picture in a magazine, or on the television screen, and then take that image to have something to do with you, to be some reflection on you and your body. The fact is that the image has nothing to do with you at all. The problem occurs when you look at the picture and then look at yourself in the mirror and conclude that your life would be better if you looked like that image, or that you would be more attractive if you looked like that image, or that the person in the image is somehow better than you, whatever your particular story is. The fact of the matter is that the photo is in no way a commentary on you.

So the best thing to do with talking back is to tell the media, the magazine, the movie, whatever, that you are not going to allow it to influence you. Remind yourself that it has nothing to do with you, that it is in no way a reflection of you. Tell this to whatever you sense is influencing you. Tell the media that it has no power over you at all. You can choose what you allow to influence you.

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur.  Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today. To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her website at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com.

Discovering Your True Beauty: Remember Only This


As the last post in this series, I want only to remind you of the most important. If you remember just one thing over these entire two weeks, please remember this: you are inherently beautiful, lovable, and perfect exactly as you are in this moment. Who you are needs no confirmation and no approval. You are already, have been, and will always be perfect – no matter what.

If your mind screams in protest and keeps a running tally of your imperfections, know that your mind is simply unable to grasp the truth of your being at this time. If other people in your life present you with perceived faults, know that they speak of themselves and not of you.

Hold ceaselessly to the following truth – you are as perfect today as you ever can be. Your mind may be presenting you with distorted pictures that eclipse this reality, but just as in an eclipse, it does not mean that the sun is not there, it is merely being blocked from view. Your mind may be blocking your beauty and your brilliance from view, but this in no way diminishes the beauty and the brilliance that you are.

So we return full circle to where we began: simply set right your idea of yourself. Believe me when I say you are already as perfect as can be, simply live according to this reality.

As Maharaj writes, “Go out wholeheartedly in search of the state of timeless perfection to which nothing can be added, from which nothing – take away…” Only realize that you need not go anywhere, nor do anything, because you already are this perfection. You are it, you have been it, and you will always be it. Deny any claim to the contrary, whether from your own mind or from the world outside. Immerse yourself in the wisdom, truth, and perfection of your true being.

    You are perfect, only you don’t know it. Learn to know yourself and you will discover wonders. All you need is already within you, only you must approach yourself with reverence and love. Self-condemnation and self-distrust are grievous errors. Your constant flight from pain and search for pleasure is a sign of the love you bear for yourself; all I plead with you is this: make love of yourself perfect. Deny yourself nothing – give yourself infinity and eternity and discover that you do not need them; you are beyond.

    –Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj 

May you always know yourself as the perfection and the beauty that you are now, have always been, and will always be.

With peace, love, and beauty, Your browser may not support display of this image.  

Sarah Maria

Ready to begin your journey? Post your intent on how you plan on loving your body and loving your life today.

Just joined the series? Read Sarah Maria’s first blog post of this two-week series here

About the Author

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today! To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her websites at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com

 

 

Your Body As The Doorway


Your relationship with your body can be the key to help you discover the truth of your being. If you have struggled with your body image, if you have struggled with negative thoughts about your body and yourself, you might be thinking I am crazy:  “What? This body? This body that I think is too fat, too old; too this and not enough that – this body can help me discover the truth of my being? This body can point me in the direction of enlightenment? Are you nuts???”

I will furthermore contend that not only your relationship with your individual body, but in fact society’s objectification of the human body, can, in fact, help you along the path to ultimate freedom. The very media messages that many blame for objectifying women, the very images that are responsible for provoking and contributing to eating disorders and self-hatred in young girls and boys, can be used to help you discover your inherent beauty and value.

Before you say I am complete insane, please take a short journey with me. Join me on a journey as we explore our relationship with our bodies. Watch as our bodies, and indeed ourselves, move from being a subject to an object to a subject to an object to a subject, to the final and ultimate realization that you are both and neither. Your body is both the object and the subject, and yet beyond both. Okay – here we go:

When you are a young child, the relationship with your body is that of subject. For most young children, there is no separation between the body and the body. The mind doesn’t think of the body as separate some how – it doesn’t objectify it. The mind-body organism operates as one, unbroken entity. Imagine a new born, even, before there is the cognitive ability to differentiate between self and other, much less between mind and body.

There comes a point, however, when the mind separates itself from the body and begins to treat the body as an object. This is especially true when there is a struggle with body image and or weight. The exact age that this occurs varies, although it appears to be happening at increasingly young ages.

The mind identifies with the body, meaning that one’s sense of identity becomes dependent and contingent on the existence of the body. The mind also begins to use it as a barometer of self-worth. Consider the recent story my assistant shared about her young daughter:

          Recently, I was having a conversation with a neighbor of mine who I think is attractive, and super nice! My daughter came up just as our conversation about eyelashes was ending. What she heard was my neighbor expressing her desire for eyelash extensions and how they are very expensive etc. I quickly tried to end the conversation and not draw attention to the subject. I even repeated to my neighbor in my daughter’s presence something I learned from your website, " Thank you God for making me just the way that I am"! This is a daily mantra in our house as my daughter is getting closer to the teenage years and has already had some questions about body image. Two hours later, out of the clear blue, my daughter says, " Mommy, do I have short or long eyelashes?" I was noticeably taken aback but quickly replied that everyone is born with the eyelashes that God wants them to have and that hers were just perfect and I did not believe in  too long or too short! She was satisfied with my answer but I was sad for her that she spent the last two hours dwelling on eyelashes which are really meant to protect our eyes right?

Just as this example illustrates, the mind learns to discriminate and judge the body as an object to be analyzed and critiqued. This initial split, this objectification of the body, the mind creating the body as an object to be evaluated, can create an immense amount of pain and suffering.

This first-phase objectification of the body can lead to a whole host of maladies and problems, both physical and mental. As an object, the body is seen as something separate from the mind, something that can either be controlled or cannot be controlled, depending on the particular situation. For example, in conditions such as anorexia, there is the initial belief and experience that the body can be controlled. When this turns to compulsive eating, there is the opposite experience – the body is completely out of control. The body may develop a host of maladies and illnesses. This phase is marked by an underlying pain and agony due to the initial split. The body is seen as an object and as such diminishes the underlying value of the person who is believed to inhabit this body-object.

The first stage of healing, then, is in reclaiming the body as the subject. This is done by recognizing that the body is an expression of the beauty of the universe and that you, whatever your body’s shape, size, health, etc. are inherently beautiful, lovable, and valuable. There is a reclaiming, if you will, a pulling back of the body into the Self. It is a realization that the body was created from the limitless perfection that creates worlds. As such, your body is inherently perfect and beautiful. Your body is not some foreign object to be controlled; rather it is an expression of the underlying cosmos of which you are a most magnificent part. Thus the initial split between the mind and the body begins to heal.

Yet this is only the beginning. As one delves deeper, it is discovered that perhaps the body is an object, but not in the painful and negative sense of the previous phase. As one hones the ability to witness life’s events with detachment, there is the realization that life simply happens – life is a continued series of happenings. According to Advaita philosophy, there is no “doer”, rather all is being done. When the mind remains unattached and uninvolved, the body carries on about its business with amazing finesse and perfection. Food is digested, the immune system protects, the nervous system interprets, all happens effortlessly, easily, without the least bit of intervention on the part of the mind.

You as the witness observe the body operating with this effortless perfection. So in a sense the body once again becomes an object. As the witness you are detached and aloof from both the body and the mind, observing them operate but not becoming involved. In this phase, however, there is no pain based on a sense of objectification because there is no artificial split between Self and body. There is an underlying sense of appreciation and affection for all that is observed, whatever be its nature.

Continuing along on this journey, the body seems to once again appear as a subject. It is discovered that everything is consciousness. The body is consciousness; the mind is consciousness; thoughts are consciousness; the environment is consciousness. Every thing is consciousness. And you are this consciousness. You at your essence are this consciousness. In the words of the ancient rishis – You are That, I am That, This is That, and That is all there is.

Ultimately there is the realization that the body is both subject and object, and yet neither. Everything that you can perceive, anything that you can taste, touch, smell, hear, or see, it is not real – it is an imagining. You are beyond all experience; you are beyond all imagining. You are the unlimited, unbounded potential that gives rise to all experience, to the world of form and phenomenon. Yet you are not this world; you are beyond. In the words of one teacher, there is consciousness-in-movement and consciousness-at-rest. It is all consciousness. That which can be perceived and experienced is consciousness-in-movement and by its very nature is transient and impermanent. There is consciousness-at-rest, which cannot be experienced, but is the potential of all that was, is, and is to come.

Therefore, you realize that you are the ultimate subject and the ultimate object. You are the artist and the artwork. You are the potential that creates the body-mind and everything else in the phenomenal world. Yet you are beyond all experience. Where this ultimately leads is to the infinite unfolding of love for all, for you realize that all is yourself.
   

Ready to begin your journey? Post your intent on how you plan on loving your body and loving your life today.

Just joined the series? Read Sarah Maria’s first blog post of this two-week series here

About the Author

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today! To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her websites at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com

 

 

Allow Your Beauty to Emerge


You do not become beautiful by trying to be beautiful, but by finding the beauty that is already within you and allowing it to emerge.

 In my experience, almost everyone wants to feel attractive. In modern culture, feelings of self-worth, achievement, and success are often inextricably woven into our physical appearance. This is particularly true for women, but men are hardly immune from the pressure for physical perfection. We live in a culture where so-called physical faults, socially determined imperfections, are considered a sign of failure. Not being physically fit, trim, healthy, and beautiful is not only about the body, it is often tied to our very sense of self-worth as people.

So the desire to be beautiful, the desire to be attractive, is inextricably woven with the desire to be successful, to win approval, and to be loved.  The desire for beauty, the desire for the perfect body then, is the desire to experience ourselves as the glorious, wonderful, lovable beings that we are. Yet there is the gnawing realization that if we seek perfection in the physical world alone, we are doomed to frustration and unhappiness.

Mainstream culture tells us that we can become beautiful if we just try hard enough. If we exercise enough, diet enough, take the right supplements, avoid toxic chemicals, get enough sleep, buy the right products, purchase the right clothes, then we will be attractive.

We can spend our lives running around, literally and figuratively, attempting to become, maintain, or achieve physical beauty, and yet the deeper part of us knows that it is inherently fleeting, temporary and insubstantial. We can stave off the effects of gravity and aging through healthy lifestyle choices, such a proper nutrition and regular exercises. If we want to be more drastic, we can nip, tuck, slice, and dice our bodies into temporary submission. Yet the fact remains that these bodies are inherently temporary, will age of their own accord, and will eventually die. 

But here is the magnificent part – your longing for physical beauty, your longing for love, approval, success – all of it is a longing to experience your true Self. It is your Self calling you home, to your true Source. Inherent in the desire itself is a yearning for something more, for something lasting, for something authentic, and, dare I say, even eternal. Inherent in the desire to be beautiful is a desire for unity, a desire to live with freedom from the incessant divisions that characterize the world of duality. It is a desire to know and experience yourself as that which you truly are, beyond characterizations, beyond judgment, beyond right and wrong, as immutable, unchanging, and ever-present.

So the question remains: how do I become truly beautiful? How do I experience the love, affection, and adoration that we all crave? The answer is not in eating less and exercising more, nor in buying the latest lotions or make-up or hair sprays, not that there is anything wrong with this per se. They simply won’t give you the beauty that you long for – the beauty of your true Self experiencing Itself.

True beauty comes from discovering who you truly are and then allowing it to express itself in action. True beauty comes from connecting with the Source within you and allowing it to emerge and radiate outward, transforming your lives and the lives around you.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj writes: “You are really in search of yourself without knowing it. You are love – longing for the love-worthy, the perfectly lovable. Due to your ignorance you are looking for it in the world of opposites and contradictions. When you find it within, your search will be over.”

The same can be said of beauty, for what is beauty other than that which we look upon with love and consider inherently lovable? Inherent in your desire for beauty is absolutely everything you need to become truly beautiful. For you are already beautiful, only you may not know it. Simply remind yourself that you already are that which you seek, that all beauty resides within you and not without, and you will discover the Ultimate Source that makes everything beautiful. Remain in this and you will discover that everything, both yourself and the world around you, becomes beautiful, lovable, magnificent, and auspicious.

As you discover the truth of who you are, there is no need to fear growing older or changing because you will know that true beauty can never diminish but only increase. When you stake your claim in the material world, the problems are never-ending. It can seem like a fight to keep the body healthy and vital. Yet when you shift your reference point from the physical to the spiritual, to the Source, you realize that everything is happening as it should, in perfect order and harmony. You discover that the only beauty worth having is the beauty of your true Being. 
   

Ready to begin your journey? Post your intent on how you plan on loving your body and loving your life today.

Just joined the series? Read Sarah Maria’s first blog post of this two-week series here

About the Author

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today! To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her websites at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com

 

 

What Makes a Gift is the Act of Giving and Receiving!

The holiday season is officially upon us.  The history of this special time of the year is one of gratitude and giving. ‘Tis the season to be Jolly, right? 

For many, the modern holiday season is often marked by stress and anxiety, strain and worry, apprehension and insecurity. Dreaming of the season rarely conjures up the overflowing peace, joy, and love that come from true thanks and true giving.

Here are a few common stressors that might be draining your joy this season:

  • Not enough money to buy the things you want for your friends and family. With the economy still reeling from the recent setback, are you concerned about not having enough cash this season?
  • Family dynamics that would cause even the most saintly to cringe – will Uncle Fred ever quit asking you why you are still single???
  • Concern about weight gain – how can you ever say “no” to Aunt Betty’s pumpkin pie?
  • Travel, snow storms, work deadlines – for many it is a busy and overwhelming time of year.

No matter the particular situation you find yourself in this season, you can effortlessly glide through the holidays with peace, joy, and love. There is just one secret to unwrap, one small shift in awareness that will transform your time from one of worry to one of peace, from one of constriction to one of freedom:

Realize that everything in your life is a gift. Recognize that every single experience that shows up in your life is a gift.

What makes a gift a gift is the act of giving, as well as the act of receiving. Gifts are freely given just as they can be effortlessly received. You can accept the gift, whatever it may be, beautiful or ugly, painful or pleasurable. Investigate it, admire it, cherish it, inquire into it, and when it has served its purpose you can let it go. Just as it freely came, it can freely go. And as you let one gift go, as you let it return from whence it came, another gift will come flowing into your life with astonishing speed. This is true gratitude – to experience everyone and everything as a gift to be cherished, loved, and ultimately let go.

Use this season as an opportunity to practice seeing and experiencing everything in your life as a gift. Are you wanting to experience joy and love? Give joy and love to everyone you meet. Are you longing to experience happiness?  Create happiness in the world around you. You will come to discover that giving and receiving are two sides of the same coin. Freely give; freely receive.

Ask yourself – what in your life is a blessing? Literally, count your blessings and make a list. Say them out loud with family and friends. This activates gratitude and releases those feel good feelings in the body.  Then counter it with introspection on current life challenges. Write or talk about ways to improve these challenges and find the positive aspects.  Focusing on what you have learned from the challenge will help. Discover the opportunity inherent in any setback. Recognize both blessings and challenges as gifts. Both bring their own insight; their own magic.

As you discover the answers to these questions, you will experience the peace, the joy, and the love that is the hallmark of the holiday season, and, in fact, the potential of every day of your life.

Remember that everything you experience is calling you home – calling you home to the reality of your true nature, the reality of your perfection, your beauty, and your grace. When you see this, life will no longer be a struggle.

So this holiday season, if you notice yourself feeling stressed, worried, or anxious, take a few moments to close your eyes and breathe.  Become mindful of your blessings whatever form they may take. Say thank you and move forward giving others gifts of love, affection, and appreciation, for as you give, so shall you receive. 

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here  to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today. To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her website at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com.

 

The Source of Beauty


At your essence, you are beauty. You impart beauty to whatever you perceive, not the other way around.

As already discussed, yours is the power of perception, not what you perceive. As such, you impart reality to whatever you perceive, not the other way around. Most people go through life believing that they receive meaning from the external world. This drives the desire to do and have because they believe that something outside of themselves is going to give them meaning, value, happiness, and abundance. So people end up looking for meaning in this world of form and phenomena, believing that if they meet the right person, if they buy the right house, if they wear the right clothes, if they have the right job, if they have the right body, then their life with be filled with meaning, with peace, with joy, and with satisfaction.

There is the chronic tendency to think that external accomplishments and accolades create meaning, when in fact the opposite is true. As human beings, we subjectively endow everything with meaning. There is no reality external to the reality we create. There is no meaning external to the meaning we create. We assign meaning or lack thereof to everything in our life, not the other way around. This one realization has the power to radically transform your life; it will radically change your relationship to everything and everyone in your life.

In the same way that we search for meaning, we search for beauty. We believe that somehow something external to ourselves is going to make us beautiful, that somehow it will endow us with the beauty, the elegance, the glamour that we desire. There is the wide-spread, dare I say almost ubiquitous belief that beauty is something that we can achieve by doing something, becoming something, and appearing a certain way. It usually involves changing something about who we are so that we can appear some other way. Here is what I mean:

The seemingly infinite supply of cosmetic companies, make-up lines, and rejuvenating lotions all send the same message: “buy this lotion, wear this make-up, wax this, or reduce that, and you will be considered beautiful. You and others will perceive that you are attractive.” Or consider the advertisements for gyms and fitness equipment: “Tone your abs, tighten your butt, strengthen your arms, lose the fat, and get the man or woman of your dreams.” The subtle belief is that there is some external standard of beauty that can and should be achieved.

Inherent in these messages about beauty is the concurrent belief that if you look a certain way, then someone else will perceive that you are beautiful. If you buy the cosmetics, go to the gym, get the new clothes, then other people will think you are attractive as well. Unfortunately, this is also a fallacy. You have no control over how other people perceive you – none whatsoever.

The key to understanding this is realizing that you do not exist as a separate, objective entity. When someone else looks at you – you are occurring in his or her mind, subject to the unique filters and conditions of his or her particular nervous system. In the same way that you assign beauty and meaning to everything you perceive, so the other person assigns meaning and beauty to what they perceive. Whether someone else perceives you or anyone or anything else as beautiful is completely outside of your control.

The truth is that you assign meaning; you create meaning. You determine what is beautiful and what is not. There is no beauty outside to be achieved; you alone have the power and the ability to recognize, determine, and experience beauty. You have this power no matter what you weigh, no matter how you look, no matter what anyone else says. You alone have the power to determine what is beautiful and what is not. You have the ultimate power to decide how you will feel about your body and yourself. Remember, you are the Source of all beauty. You need not become what you already are; you need not chase after that which is already within you. 

 

Ready to begin your journey? Post your intent on how you plan on loving your body and loving your life today.

Just joined the series? Read Sarah Maria’s first blog post of this two-week series here

About the Author

Sarah Maria is the author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life. The book outlines her 5-step process for helping you feel great in and about your body and yourself. Her work embraces the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual, so that true and lasting healing can occur. Click here to purchase your copy and begin to love your body today! To learn more about Sarah Maria and her work, you can visit her websites at www.sarahmaria.com and www.breakfreebeauty.com

 

 

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