Sunday, March 4, 2012

Embody - Fall in Love with your Body

Hi, my name is Donna and I am a body-hater.  It has been 5 months since my last confession.

Recently, I attended a workshop with Angela Deutschmann called Embody where the intention is this :
 "At Embody, we will have a close look at your relationship with your body and uncover any shaming and blaming. You’ll engage powerfully with your past, habits, hates and the things you do when you think no-one else is watching. There will be no requirement to share or do anything unless you wish to but the opportunity will be there to release all your secret shames, pain and fears about your body...
We will be using unique, liberating processes, the splendour of the natural environment (outdoor pools, stone labyrinth) and the power of working in a small group to assist you to breakthrough that which prevents you from being in awe of your body. This is a workshop that will require vulnerability, courage and compassion. It is designed to make you uncomfortable or scared, if any fear or shame about your body exists in you. If you have it in you to play, you can finally surrender your shame and self-hatred and form an unconditionally loving partnership with your body for life.
Graduates have reported real and sustainable results including losing weight, creating long-term relationships, letting go of deep-seated habits and changing careers.
If you are brave enough to fully see and own your own body, compassionate enough to accept the bodies of others and wild enough to fall unconditionally in love with your body – forever - then I invite you to Embody." (Check out the link)

Sincerely, it was amazing!  I managed to go places in my pain and shame I have never been and I have been doing workshops for 9 years.  It was a very powerful experience.  I managed for the first time in my life to express the anger that resides in me like a tightly clamped fist.  With the help of the processes and the gentle and strong and safe place Angela created, I managed to locate my anger and uncurl the fist to release the rage and pain held there for years.  It was done in such a strong and sacred space, I felt safe enough, held enough to go there.  If I had sensed that they were not strong or capable or respectful enough, I could not have done it.  But they were, and I did.

This enabled me to realise that I have carried a belief for most of my conscious life that "Men are dangerous". This was huge.  Moving through life afraid of half the population on this planet! I didn't know this about myself and I have 3 sons.  This was facilitated bravely and sensitively and cleverly by Angela's husband Garrick who taught us the difference between sensuality and sexuality - another breakthrough.  This in itself has been life-changing for me.

So you can see how valuable this journey was for me.  I felt liberated enough to enjoy the feeling of being in my body and could feel how it felt to find pleasure in uncharged touch, whether from swimming in a river or massage.  And marvel at the pure strength of my body in doing handstands, cartwheels, climbing a small waterfall and doing sit-ups whilst hanging upside-down from a staircase that I had hooked my legs into.  Strength, power, sensuality, release of fear.  And dance: moving my body to moody music, whether angry, sad, joyful, powerful, loving or not, it was pleasure, using my body to express myself.  I am so used to using my mind and my voice but not my body.  This was a revelation : my body as an expressive tool.

But yesterday, I received the disc of the naked shots of the last labyrinth walk on Embody.  I am shocked and disappointed at my reaction.  I still can't believe that I did all those things on the course - particularly cavorting around naked in full sunlit view of everyone, male and female alike!

Photo by Celine Cruse (

I have translated a lot of the course into my everyday life - especially nakedness, as I now sleep naked, swim naked in our pool and really enjoy my sensuality much, MUCH more - which has in turn, made me more relaxed about my sexuality.

I am enjoying my body and feel its strength and power and there is pleasure in that: I use joy as my guide in exercise and do yoga. I swim and run around on the beach with our Labrador.  I started kick-boxing and LOVE the physical release of pent-up aggression and the amazing power that comes with the knowledge that I am strong enough to defend myself.  And my eating is much calmer and guided by pleasure and how it makes me feel.  It has been a real shift.

BUT, and its is a big but, when I saw the naked shots of myself 2 weeks later, I was somewhat horrified at the flabby, fat, aged, thickness of it all.  Repulsed, to be honest.  They are very honest photos - no touch-ups - and I can see what I have been hiding from for so long : intimately knowing myself, flab and all.  I have been living in denial by not looking at photos of my physical self for nearly 20 years now (I haven't done a photo album since our honeymoon 19 years ago).  When I did a painting of my body 2 years ago, I thought, "The light must be wrong.  I'm not that fat!"  But, sincerely, I am.

And this sense of repulsion and rejection make me feel like I passed Embody with a  D aggregate.  So, I sleep naked...but I don't LOVE my body when I see it.  When I feel it, yes.  When I see it, no.  I just don't picture myself being in a body that looks like that.  Simple.  I can accept all the freckles and odd body shape and short neck and generous butt, BUT it needs to be at least 10 - 20 kg's lighter.  End of story.  That's what I want.

Angela says its about feeling good, not being good...  Maybe this is just another step in the journey towards complete self-love and self-acceptance..."just another brick in the wall", as it were.  3 steps forward, 1 step back and so it goes.  I do feel that I am more fearless: trying out new things, going naked, less apologetic of my mere presence, able to feel like an equal to the men in my life, stand my ground, bolder, more joyful, having more fun. And maybe that's good enough for now.  After all, a D is better than an F.  Loving photos of myself may come later ... on the Re-Treat, a weekend workshop for graduates of Embody.

The single most powerful event on this journey is exposure.  It translates as truth, honesty and, in my mind, truth is the same as love.  So if telling the truth and exposing myself IS loving myself, then this blog is a love story to myself.  So I am back in the confessional box, exposing my shame and pain and fears and making myself vulnerable, so you can understand how this is sometimes overwhelmingly scary and hiding out seems like the only option: going back in my tortoise shell until I feel safe again to come out and live a little - on the edge of my comfort zone, sharing, caring, loving, braving the world again.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Donna,

    Thank you for sharing this. Your article is beautiful, vulnerable, honest and inspiring.

    I hope you don't mind, but it actually inspired me to write a response about my own Embody photo memories.

    Thank you for the inspiration!

    With love,

    PS. I love the photo you have posted here. It's beautiful.

    PPS. You I have posted my Embody photo memories here: