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Healthy Thinking: Using Your Mind To Help Heal Body, Heart & Soul

Healthy ThinkingYou probably know what it takes to live a healthy life, right?  Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise regularly, take vitamins – maybe add in some fish oil for cardiovascular health.  Make sure you get enough protein, carbohydrates, and lean fats.  Fortunately for many, healthy eating and exercise have become more and more a way of life.  You know the list of do’s and don’ts to keep your body strong and fit.

What is less well known is how your thoughts influence your physical, emotional, and even spiritual health.  Your mind is an extremely powerful instrument that can be either a friend or foe.  For most, left to its own devices, the mind is a foe, and can lead to pain, difficulty, and suffering.  With a little bit of effort and awareness, however, the mind can become a friend.  As a friend, your mind can be used as a powerful asset to help promote your health and well-being on all levels.

Understanding Your Mind – Friend or Foe

Is your mind your friend or your foe?  If you are like most, your mind bombards you with concerns, worry, anxiety, negative self-talk and a barrage of other nonsense.

Your mind may harass you about being good enough or healthy enough.  It might critique you for making “poor” decisions.  Are you being a good enough mother to your children?  Are you a loving enough partner?  Are you taking good enough care of your physical body?

And then let’s not forget gnawing concerns about physical appearance.  The mind may lament: “I have too many wrinkles.”  “How did my butt get so big?”  “What should I do about these sun spots?”

Does this list sound at all familiar?  You can probably write your own – your unique “flavor” of negative mental messages.  These messages range from annoying to downright tyrannical.  They are tyrannical because they control your life.

What kind of life can you live when your mind harasses you constantly with these types of concerns and worries?

It is my contention that true health is impossible when you live with a tyrannical mind.  And most people do.  You can eat all the right foods, do all the right exercises, take all the best supplements, and have a wonderful mix of alternative and conventional medical care.  Yet if you are a slave to your thoughts, believing every mental message that the mind produces, how can you be truly healthy?

The mind-body connection is by now well-known and documented throughout the scientific literature.  If your mind is producing stress, anxiety, and insecurity, whether that is through making you believe that you are not quite good enough the way you are, or that something is wrong with you, or making you worry and stress about situations over which you have no control, this mental turbulence has a very real impact on your physical health and well-being.

The tragedy is that most people live enslaved by their minds – their thoughts, beliefs, mental patterns and emotions.  The triumph is that with a little awareness and effort, you can begin to free yourself from the tyranny of your mind and move toward true health and well-being.

Freeing the Mind – Breaking Free from the Thoughts and Beliefs that Confine You

So, how do you break free from this ceaseless and controlling mind-chatter?

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take that will help you find freedom from a controlling, and even debilitating mind.

Step #1: Become aware of the thoughts that you think

Before you can break free from your negative thoughts, ideas, and beliefs about yourself, your body, and your life, you must first become aware of the thoughts that you think on a regular basis.

What thoughts and beliefs are being generated in your mind?  Everyone has thoughts, messages, “tapes” if you will, that run through the mind.  Without awareness, these thoughts control you and dictate your life.  Yet as you become aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis, you can gradually begin to loosen the control they have over your life.

There is no practice more important or more impactful in breaking free from the thoughts that control you than the practice of meditation.  Over time, a regular meditation practice makes you more aware of the thoughts that are being generated by your mind.  With meditation, you discover that you are not the thoughts you think.  You are not the messages and voices inside your head.  Over time, meditation will gradually help lessen the grip and hold that your thoughts have over your life.  The amazing thing about meditation is that simply by practicing meditation, you will become more aware of the thoughts you think on a regular basis.

Step #2: Recognize that they are false

Before you become aware of your thoughts, they control you absolutely.  As you become aware of them, you can begin to notice that they control you.  You can begin to notice how they control you.  The next step in breaking free from them is recognizing that they are false.  You have to realize that they are simply messages, usually learned in early childhood, and they are false.  They are not about you and should not be allowed to control your life.

Step#3: Refuse to believe them

The next step is refusing to believe them.  As you begin to see more clearly that these false messages run through your mind, you can make a decision to not believe them.  You can recognize that they are false – false messages running through your mind.  As such, they should not be listened to and should be ignored.

It is like music running in the background.  You can carry about your business, go about your life, and ignore the negative thoughts and beliefs.  Disregard them, don’t listen to them – completely ignore them.  As you practice this, gradually over time they will lessen and recede more and more.    

In this way, you can use your awareness to free yourself from the negative thoughts that you think.

As the mind becomes free from these negative messages and beliefs, it can be used as an ally to promote health.  When you are listening to the negative thoughts and beliefs that run through your mind, it promotes dis-ease.  As you become free from these voices, the energy of your mind is elevated to help you move toward true wellbeing.

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.  Visit BreakFreeBeauty.com to learn more.

What Your Body Tells You: Objective Feedback vs. Critical Condemnation

Can you tell the difference between the objective feedback your body offers versus the critical condemnation of your mind?

Your body’s objective feedback can help you make lifestyle choices that promote your health and well-being, whereas the critical condemnation of your mind creates nothing but suffering.

What is your body telling you?Our bodies are incredible messengers, powerful gifts on the journey through life.  We can use the constant feedback that our bodies give us to help us make changes and adaptations to promote our health.  If we listen to the criticism of our minds, however, it will sabotage us.  The negative mental messages can eclipse the body’s natural intelligence and feedback, which will prevent us from making the healthy choices we want to make.

The mind opines, while the body illuminates.  The mind makes you mistakenly believe that your body means something about who you are as a person, your self-worth and your value.  It levels judgment and criticism.  It makes you believe that you are somehow not good enough, that something is wrong with you and your body.

Here are some examples to elucidate the point:

Objective Feedback vs. Critical Condemnation

  • "I am holding weight in my abdomen – I can tell I have been under a lot of stress."
    versus "My stomach is flabby and disgusting – I am out of shape and need to do more sit-ups."

  • "I haven’t been able to exercise recently and can tell that my legs are weak."
    versus "My cellulite is disgusting and I cringe when I look in the mirror."

  • "I notice that when I eat sugar regularly it leads to weight gain and is addictive."
    versus "Why can’t I control myself?  I am so weak."

  • "I can tell that my arms are becoming weak – it would be good for me to increase my upper-body strength."
    versus "My arms are flabby, weak, and I don’t even want to look at them."

  • "It has been too long without a haircut."
    versus "My hair is flat, dull, and disgusting."

The key is to use your body for valuable, useful feedback, and to disregard the worthless messages of criticism that come from mental conditioning.

Critical condemnation is when you use your body and appearance to:

  • Determine your self-worth

  • Use it as a reflection of your “success” or “failure”

  • Use it as a reflection of your “strength” or “weakness”

  • Use it as a reflection of being “good” or “bad”

Here are three helpful steps to help you use your body’s messages for objective feedback, while dropping the mind’s critical condemnation:

  1. Become increasingly aware of the difference between the body’s messages and the mind’s messages

  2. Separate the “wheat” from the “chaff” – use the objective feedback and drop the self-judgment, criticism, and condemnation

  3. Make lifestyle choices based on the feedback, not the condemnation

A key tool to help you learn to differentiate between your body’s messages and your mind’s messages is meditation.

A regular meditation practice is essential to help you break free from the critical mind-chatter that can sabotage your best intentions.

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.  Visit BreakFreeBeauty.com to learn more.

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.

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.


Book Review: “Love Your Body, Love Your Life” by Sarah Maria

I almost always take cover blurbs with a grain of salt, don’t you? But this endorsement from Ira M. Sacker, M.D. caused me to come to a full stop as I began to read Sarah Maria’s book Love Your Body, Love Your Life.
“Powerful, honest, and elegantly written. An amazing concept that goes beyond the idea of self-love and taps into the notion that one’s love equals one’s peace.”

Dr. Sacker is one of the world’s foremost authorities on eating disorders. Add that to his appealing words about peace and I was seriously hooked. Isn’t that the bottom line for just about everything? I think it is. What we can all agree upon—planet-wide—is that we all want to live in peace, and that no matter what seems to be standing in its way, it’s an aim worth the effort, whatever that effort may be. Furthermore, what I know for sure is that peace has to start at home—within each one of us.

Sarah Maria puts her fingers right on the pounding pulse of a truth in Western society. “Body hatred has become an epidemic of unfathomable proportions in this culture.” I believe that body hatred lies deep under a host of physical problems: infertility, cancer, diabetes, the lot. How can we possibly expect to be healthy if we reject our own primary residence?

With inerrant accuracy, Sarah Maria returns again and again to the simple, yet profound, truths that she’s learned. “The truth is that your sense of inadequacy is an illusion, or more a delusion. Yes, it’s true. Many Americans suffer from this grand delusion: If I am not thin/tall/toned/beautiful/ young enough, I can’t live my life fully or realize my dreams. Rather than truly loving our bodies, minds, and souls, we want to nip and tuck, slice and dice, starve and purge our way to being adequate. We think we need to change something about ourselves in order to be deserving of love, attention, and affection.”

Fearless, Ms. Maria calls it like it is. “This deluded sense of inadequacy has a name: Negative Body Obsession, or NBO. NBO is a condition marked by a near-constant critical rumination on one’s appearance.” Then she defines it more broadly, “NBO is any and every thought, feeling, and action that makes your sense of self-worth dependent on your physical appearance.”

I remember telling friends in my twenties that my body was perfect … from the knees down and from the breasts up. That left the entire core of me out of the equation. Hard to thrive without heart, tummy, womb and a whole host of other central operating systems, if you will. I’ve spent years working to recover a sense of the core within my own body. So has Sarah Maria. She knows whereof she writes, and that makes a huge difference to the quality of her book.

I thoroughly enjoyed the warning about change. “Let me address a potential point of confusion from the get-go. The problem with NBO is not that it makes you want to change, per se. There is nothing inherently wrong with wanting to get stronger; to become healthier; and to feel more radiant, beautiful, and alive. In fact, your desire for improvement can serve as an impetus for tremendous growth and development. NBO creeps in, however, when your desires for improvement are motivated by a gnawing sense of inadequacy, a subtle belief that you are not quite wonderful the way you are. When your desires come from this place of inadequacy, your attempts to fulfill them are often thwarted or require tremendous effort. When you learn to fully befriend, accept, and love yourself, on the other hand, improvement can happen with patience, ease, and grace.”

I cannot tell you the number of diets I went on in just the manner Ms. Maria describes. At core, the internal message was ‘there’s something very wrong with me.’ It took me till I was 25 to realize that I was letting a small metal box and three numbers tell me how to feel about myself every day. I threw my scale out my 11th story window in Manhattan—into an alley. Then I gave away every diet book I owned. In short, I embarked upon a journey of self-exploration, and I too discovered what Sarah Maria has. “At your essence you are beauty.” I was, but it took almost forever for me to figure it out.

She explains, “The root cause of NBO is not realizing that each and every one of us is intrinsically beautiful and inherently valuable exactly as we are, right now.” I began my own journey by noting how I could see beauty in others. Eventually, I noticed beauty residing in my own loo mirror as well.

Sarah Maria writes a delicious How-To in the rest of the book.

“1. NBO ties your self-worth to a specific outcome. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, to detach from the results.

2. NBO causes you to reject or deny your inherent beauty, goodness, and strength.

3. NBO affects the quality of your intention because it comes from a place of desperation rather than a place of love.

4. NBO highlights your fears instead of your trust and self-love.

5. NBO makes it difficult to accept the present (and love yourself as you are right now).”

She brings to bear all of the self and its tool for curing NBO: body, heart, mind and spirit. NBO is a syndrome that affects every single part of a person. It requires all the tools possible to reverse it, but reversing it is not only possible, it’s necessary. “Clearly, you’ve got a war raging inside you. How do you end the war? Broker a peace agreement between the different parts of yourself—mind, body, and spirit.”

Which returns us to the delectable wisdom of Dr. Sacker: loving yourself brings you peace. When you are at peace, you can give peace to others, and wow, do we need it.

If you suffer from NBO a little or a lot, race to get a copy of Sarah Maria’s Love Your Body, Love Your Life. You will be so relieved you did.

For spiritual nourishment, visit Dr. Susan Corso’s website and blog, Seeds for Sanctuary. Follow her on Twitter @PeaceCorso and Friend her on Facebook. Decipher the divinity of your everyday language using God’s Dictionary.

Life Happens on a Need-to-know Basis

Life happens on a need-to-know basis.

At first, this can seem frustrating, but it is actually an incredible gift.  Life gives us exactly what we need in each moment throughout our day to lead us exactly where we need to go and, thus experience exactly what we need to experience.  This is much more than simply a "nice idea" in my opinion.  As you comprehend the profundity of this, it can help you navigate any challenges with greater wisdom, added grace, and more finesse.

The mind wants to know why things happen the way they do. This is especially true when there is pain and suffering involved:
“Why am I being subject to this torture?”
“Have I done something to deserve this?”
“Why did he have an affair on me?”
“Why did she leave me?”
“Why did I lose all my money?”
“Why do I have to suffer so much?”
“Why did he get that promotion and not me?”
“Why did she get all of the attention when we were growing up?”

The mind repeatedly asks “why” when the event is happening, and you probably won’t know the answer right away.  This is especially true when you are going through painful and tough times:  those times in life where everything seems to implode around you, leaving you feeling overwhelmed, lost, and utterly confused. 

During these times, it is helpful to trust in the process as much as possible.  Hold onto the idea that there is a reason – that the universe has a reason – and that you just may not know what it is in this moment.  The reason you think might not be the "ultimate reason."  Just keep trusting that the universe is leading you perfectly.  It has been leading you perfectly all along.

If you think you are suffering because "God hates you" or because you did something terribly wrong or because you are a bad person, or because you are somehow "unworthy" of greatness in life, entertain the idea that this interpretation may not be the final reason (even though it feels real).  The final explanation for the experience might, in fact, turn out to be something other than you initially suspected.

I recall a well-known poem from my childhood by a n anonymous author.  (As a personal aside, I remember this is actually where I learned what the word anonymous meant! I was very young, maybe seven years old or so.)  This poem involved a person asking God why God had abandoned her when she was at her lowest point, leaving her to fend for herself, when God had promised that he/she would be there with her always.  She said “Why was there only one set of foot prints during this tragic time in my life?”  God’s response to her was “When there is only one set of footprints, it is because I carried you.”

So during those times where you feel absolutely alone or abandoned, remind yourself that this tough and difficult time, too, shall pass.  And when it does, you might be absolutely amazed and astounded by the perfection of the process.  What you think is your worst hell might turn out in fact to be your most exquisite heaven.  Your worst suffering might turn out to be your greatest bliss.

The important factor is simply to "stay in the game" and remain open to the possibilities.  Life happens on a need-to-know basis.  When you need to know more, the universe will provide you with more input.  The mind may want to know why right now, but the universe has its own timing. 

Trust that when you need to know, you will know.  This trust will help you align your preferences and desires with the universe’s preferences and desires.  When this happens, everything that shows up in your life is a gift, and gratitude is the immediate and only response.

This article is the first in a two-part series on How Life Happens on a Need-to-know Basis.

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. 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.

6 Steps to Feel Sexy in Your Skin

When you look in the mirror, are you amazed by what you see?
Are you smitten with your sexy body?
Are you stunned by your own magnificence?
Or do you look in the mirror and lament the size of your thighs?
Grimace at the wrinkles appearing around your eyes?
Agonize over that roll of belly fat that refuses to retreat, despite endless crunches and trips to the gym?
If you are like the vast majority of women, and a growing number of men, you answer “yes” to the latter questions far too often.
Statistics confirm that many people have a critical and harsh relationship with their bodies. They suffer from Negative Body Obsession, a condition marked by the near-constant and critical rumination about one’s physical appearance.
Whether you are a woman going through menopause, an adolescent in the midst of puberty, or a man slowly losing his once thick head of hair, it seems that no one is immune from these negative body thoughts. 
Look at these startling numbers:  
  • Between 1997 and 2007, cosmetic surgery increased by 457 percent.
  • By 2015, 17 percent of U.S. residents will receive cosmetic surgery, totaling 55 million procedures – almost one procedure for every five Americans.
  • Approximately eight million Americans have an eating disorder.
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia.
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffer from bulimia.
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males.
  • Binge eating disorder is thought to affect 2-5% of the general population.
One study found that one in ten teenage girls either binge eats or purges at least once a week. Binge eating among boys was 3%.
Fortunately, you can choose not to be a number. You can learn to feel great in and about your body, and you can begin without changing a single thing. You don’t have to invest in expensive plastic surgery, spend countless hours in the gym, or engage in extreme dieting.
You can actually use the power of your mind to change how you feel about your body so that you finally delight in your physical form. And you can do it right now.
Here are 6 simple steps to help you feel sexy in your skin:
1. Become aware of what you are thinking. The first step is to become aware of the stories you are telling yourself about your body. Notice when you critique your body for being too much of this and not enough of that. You will discover that many of these thoughts are habitual, patterned responses that are not true reflections of reality. Explore the idea that you can start feeling beautiful immediately, in this moment, without changing a single thing.
2.  Set an intention to change how you look at your body.
Here are some examples:
When you grimace at your wrinkles in the mirror, set an intention to find beauty in your reflection.
When you want to suck in your stomach in a vain attempt to make it disappear, set an intention to appreciate the body that you have right now.
When you long to fit into a smaller clothing size, set an intention to unconditionally accept your body.
Make a conscious commitment to change the way you look at your body and yourself.
3.  Take time to connect within.
Are you waiting at the bus stop on your way to work? Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to focus on the present moment.
 Are you in the shower, getting ready to start your day? Turn your attention to the feeling of warm water cascading against you, gently caressing your body, and allow yourself to relax.
Practicing this present-moment awareness will help refine your ability to identify and detach from the negative dialogue about your body.
4.  Your Body is Your Best Friend
Your human body is your truest ally. Collaborate with it to create optimum health.
Make healthy eating a priority.
Remember to exercise, and make it enjoyable. If the gym makes you cringe, opt instead for yoga, Pilates, dance, or good old walking.
In our harried and hurried world, take time to relax and rejuvenate. 
Offer your body gratitude and appreciation for it unwavering support and devotion.
5.  Create Meaningful Moments
Every day is filled with countless tasks and errands.  Remember that you can imbue each moment with meaning. It can be as simple as smiling at everyone you meet, reacting with compassion and love instead of anger, or making sure to tell your friends and loved ones how much you care about them.
6.  You were born beautiful. So that is it – 6 Simple Steps to start feeling beautiful, right now, in this moment. You don’t have to go anywhere or do anything. There is nothing you can do, say, or buy that will make you any more perfect than you are in this very moment. Know this, and you will revel in your true beauty.
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.  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
Believing that you are unattractive is a learned habit. You can unlearn it and discover the Joy, Peace, and Love that are your natural sate and birthright.


Ayurveda Tips for Easing Seasonal Transition

According to the ancient system of Ayurveda, seasons reflect predominant doshas. There are three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Doshas are comprised of the five elements – ether, air, water, fire, and earth. Vata consists of ether and air. Pitta consists of water and fire. Kapha consists of water and earth. Vata is associate with movement, a reflection of the ether and air. Pitta with intensity, a reflection of the fire element. Kapha consists of stability because of the earth element.

These doshas are seen throughout everything in the created world. These doshas are present in human beings and in nature. The seasons are also associated with doshas. Fall is Vata season. Summer is Pit ta season. Winter and Spring are Kapha seasons. Vata is aggravated whenever the seasons change because Vata is the principle of movement and the changing of seasons reflects this movement. Since Fall is a Vata season, the sensation of movement or the sensation of lack of being grounded is most evident at this time. This can create a sense of loneliness and a general sense of feeling out of sorts.

If you find that this happens to you during the change in seasons, here are some quick Ayurvedic tips to help you regain your balance:

1.   Warm sesame oil massage

The tradition of Ayurveda teaches that warm sesame oil can help to balance Vata. Give yourself a gentle massage with warm sesame oil before your shower. This helps to calm the movement and bring a sense of calmness and stability.

2.   Cooked, warm, moist foods

Fall is the perfect time to eat less raw food and more warm, cooked, well-spiced foods. Traditional fall fare, such as sweet potatoes are a wonderful balancing food.

3.   Relaxation

Relaxation is incredibly healing and balancing for Vata. Take a walk outside, get a massage, treat yourself to a hot bath, curl up with a good book – whatever helps you relax and rejuvenate.

4.   Friends and family

Whenever you are feeling isolated or unstable, it is the perfect opportunity to connect with friends and loved ones and rejuvenate yourself with the warmth of loving relationships.

As always, please post any questions or comments, as I love to hear your opinion and thoughts!

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.  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.

Flickr Image courtesy of Hsuyo

Being Present

This week’s call for content on Intent.com is how to stay in the present moment. This is an important topic, and one that can create a great deal of unnecessary confusion. So let me begin by dispelling a myth or two.

You are always in the present moment. You cannot be anywhere other than the present moment. The present moment is all there ever is, so even the thought that you can somehow not be in the present moment is itself part of the problem. Let me explain:

What you are is presence. What you are is the presence that is always present, the timeless, boundless, changeless reality on which everything appears and disappears as in a dream. This presence has no beginning and no end. The concepts of space and time simply do not apply. Space and time are creations and projections of the mind, which is not you. 

Furthermore, there is no “you” to stay in the present moment. Who does the “you” refer to? Are you referring to the body? Or are you referring to the mind? As already explained above, you are neither the body, nor the mind, but the presence or space in which the mind and body occur. The body is always in the present moment. The mind only imagines that it is somehow not in the present moment. It imagines a past and it imagines a future, but all of this is happening in the present moment. The entire event or happening: the space or presence that you truly are, the body that is appearing and the mind that is imagining, all of this is always happening in the present moment. Always.

Okay – hopefully you now get the point that you are always and eternally in the now, whether you are aware of it or not.  

Now, if by staying in the present moment, you mean freeing yourself from the endless mental chatter that plagues you; if you want to live with greater peace, tranquility, and harmony, regardless of what happens in your life and circumstances, that is something that can be easily accomplished. Here are a few tips to help you navigate your life with ease and grace.

1. Observe – Become aware of what is happening

The greatest secret in mastering life is to become a keen observer; become a keen listener. The Buddha taught about mindfulness as the great tool to enlightenment. Consider this quote from Krishnamurti:

“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.”

Simply become aware of what is happening in any given moment. Are you feeling frantic and compulsive? Notice it. Are you feeling overwhelmed and anxious? Gently observe it. Are you feeling excited and joyful? Just watch it. Whatever is happening, whether good, bad, or indifferent, practice observing it without judging it. And notice when you judge it too. Observe yourself labeling certain things as good and certain things as bad. Racing mind – bad. Quiet mind – good. Just notice the whole entire process.

2. Accept it – Surrender completely to the Now

The greatest secret to living at peace is to practice surrender in every moment. In each and every moment, life is exactly what it is. What is, is. The problem occurs when we don’t want what the present moment is presenting, and thus fight against it. We want something else; we want something different; we want more of this and less of that. Then we realize that we are wanting something different and that we should not be wanting something different. Instead, we should be accepting the present moment. And this creates more mental chatter. Just observe this entire process – the whole thing, and surrender. Let go. Accept it completely. Total acceptance and surrender is the key to total freedom.

3.Make it a Habit – Make it Constant

Make the above two steps a habit in your life. Most of us have a lifelong habit of not observing and not accepting. Many of us have a habit of fighting or resisting practically everything that shows up in our life. An encouraging and liberating fact of life, however, is that we can change our habits. We can learn and implement new behaviors, attitudes, and actions. Start to cultivate a habit of observing whatever is happening, and then surrender to that moment. You can intend to change the future, but you must always accept the present. Fighting against the present causes nothing other than additional mental turbulence. Your peace of mind is directly proportional to the amount you are able to surrender to what is.

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.  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.  

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