Excerpt from Your Heart Knows the Answer

Chapter Nine:
Accepting and Honoring Your Body

I’ve got a stomach now as well as a behind. And … you can’t pull it in both ways … [so] I’ve made it a rule to pull in my stomach and let my behind look after itself.—Agatha Christie

The time that I remember using all my energy to wish I was someone else, I was twenty-two years old riding the subway in Manhattan. A gorgeous, slim woman walked into the subway car. She was thin and angular, with firm little breasts. She didn’t need a bra—and she wasn’t wearing one.My eyes immediately became glued to her, as her protruding hipbones, like the tips of opened angel’s wings, seemed to whisper in my direction, “Bow down and pray to me, for I am the Thin Goddess. I alone, can lead you to redemption.”
Sucking in my stomach and re-adjusting my bra so that my own breasts wouldn’t get out of hand, I stood there and prayed, “God, please let me be her.” And that was that. I decided then that, come hell or high water, I was going to be thin. But not just thin—so thin that people would bow down to me as well. I’d shrink my breasts, flatten my tummy, narrow my hips, and tuck in my thighs. As an over-achiever, I would find this easy. So, summoning my perfectionist ego self, I set out to complete the task at hand. After a few months of running every day and eating less, I lost the weight
I had wanted to lose.

I was thin and I loved it—even buying a bathing suit was enjoyable! I felt like a million bucks. But on a deeper level, I knew that I was really in the poorhouse, because I was seeking the approval of others as a sign of my worthiness. I was running from myself.
I had become a slave to the Thin Goddess. What could be a bigger rejection of oneself than the rejection of one’s body? I could cry a thousand years for the heinous crimes I’ve committed against my body over the years, crimes that so many women have committed. But have you ever thought about why we’ve been blessed with bodies in the first place? Perhaps, we can come to view our bodies as gifts that provide us with an opportunity to learn about our souls.

After years of looking inward, I’ve learned that I’m a beautiful, loving, powerful woman exactly as I am—a divine being of God’s. I choose to accept and nurture my body and the spirit that inhabits it, a choice I must make anew every day.

The ancient Celts have a beautiful metaphor for the human body. They believe that the body is made out of clay and that it comes up out of the earth. So having your feet on the ground connects you to the Earth; you are placing “your private clay on the ancient mother clay from which it has emerged”. In his poignant tape series on Celtic wisdom, Anam Cara, the scholar and poet John O’Donohue explains that the Celts also believe that because we are made of clay, we come from the underworld or world of Spirit. For an individual to be in harmony with the world, she must accept her own body as a unique form that has never been found before, one which has a memory and spirit all its own.

Taking the clay metaphor one step further, the life force within each of us brings to our clay what the potter brings to her pot. In other words, we mold and shape the raw clay with which we were born—our bodies—to reflect our inner selves and our life’s journey. Just as each clay form the potter creates has its own unique potential (such as to hold flowers or food), our bodies, too, have a unique, divine potential.

Me, I’ve discovered that I’m a soup tureen, filled with goodness and wholeness, made from clay that was found where the earth’s greatest treasures have been excavated—the kind of soup tureen you’d be proud to place on your table. Once I finally accepted myself as a soup tureen, I discovered that people love my soup. That’s when I started serving others what was truly mine—and nourishing myself as well.

It is through our bodies that we can come to know our souls. Have you ever caught a glimpse of your soul? Have you ever had the experience where your body “drops away” and you experience yourself (and possibly someone else) as pure spirit? Perhaps you have had this kind of experience when you were making love with someone or at another equally intimate time…

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Gail Harris Author