Dr Mark Atkinson's Blog

25May 2011

Body Acceptance

I work a lot with people whose heads tell them that some part of themselves is ugly, not ok, hideous, awful or bad. It’s surprisingly common amongst women and increasingly common amongst men. In addition to the unhappiness, obsessive thinking and low self-esteem this can bring about, self-rejection – rejection of some aspect of ourselves, prevents us from experiencing the undercurrent of well-being and peacefulness that is available to us in any given moment.


If you know that you are less than at peace with the reality of how different parts of your body look – then I invite you to try the following suggestions which are designed to help bring about body acceptance. Body acceptance is simply about making peace with the reality that your body is as it is in this moment in time. It’s absolutely fine to want it to appear differently in the future, that’s great and not a problem, I’m just simply saying that if you want to be at peace now - acceptance is the key.


So how do we accept our body? In my 2-day self-acceptance workshop I take you through a process that is designed to help you shift your psychological and emotional relationship to your body. What I’ve provided below is a taste of the kinds of approaches that I have found to help – I hope they can be of assistance to you.   


Stop believing your heads stories


The head is a storyteller – that’s what it does. It creates stories about everything you, me, life and of course your body. ‘my breasts are too big’, ‘my bum is ugly’, ‘my nose is awful’ – all of these are just nothing more and nothing less than stories - whether they impact you at an emotional level or not depends on whether you choose to believe them. If you value your serenity and happiness then I invite you to stop believing them. There are a few ways to do this. One is simply every time you notice your head creating a story about your body, turn your attention to your breathing. Breath in for the count of 4, out to the count of 7 and repeat a couple of times more whilst saying silently to yourself ‘my head is creating a story about…..’ For example ‘my head is creating a story about how ugly my nose is’. As you say this keep it very light-hearted and say it deliberately with kindness. Notice how this reduces the power of the story. Another helpful tool involves saying the story slowly (in this case ‘my nose is ugly’) out loud or silently (if others are around) but leaving a couple of seconds gap into between each word. As you say the story slowly, focus on the space/gap in between each thought, repeat a couple of times and notice how this also reduced the power of the story on the way you feel.


Question your beliefs


Write a list of your beliefs about your different body parts, for example my bum is…., my breasts are, my tummy is….. Now go to the website www.thework.com and download the one-belief-at-a-time worksheet from the resources section. It will take you through a truly enlightening process that can help you to shift your relationship to your beliefs. Just be open to it working and you’ll hopefully be amazed at how powerful it is


Love your body


This is one of the most important meditations I teach and I invite you to use it once even twice a day. It’s called the self-love meditation. Here is how it works:


  • Sit still, close your eyes and take a couple of deep breaths in and out.
  • Bring to mind someone or something for whom/which you have a deep unconditional love.
  • If you can’t think of anyone, imagine what the feelings would be like if you did have someone for whom you felt unconditional love.
  • As you focus on that person or thing, notice what you are feeling in your body–mind and breathe in and out of those feelings, so that they start to expand.
  • Once you can feel that loving appreciation in your body, release the image and send the loving appreciation that you are feeling down to your feet.
  • Gradually move your attention up the entire length of your body, sending loving appreciation to every single cell. This might take a couple of seconds or minutes – do whatever feels comfortable or natural.
  • Once you reach the top of your head, take some time to enjoy the peace and stillness.
  • If you sense any blocks or resistance in any part of your body, simply regard that block as stuck energy/emotion, tell it silently to soften and flow and allow it to exit from your body. As long as you are patient – it always does. It doesn’t have too take long


For more information about my workshops click here

Author: Mark Atkinson