Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “You know, a lot of people don’t love themselves. And they go through life with deep and haunting emotional conflicts. So the length of life means that you must love yourself. And you know what loving yourself also means? It means that you’ve got to accept yourself.”
As much as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about spirituality, freedom, equality, justice, evolution, and courage, he also delivered powerful statements about love. Love is reflected in deep understanding and unconditional, non-judgmental acceptance.
I can recall when Anna presented to my office suffering from large uterine fibroids.
She had been diagnosed ten years prior and was told she needed surgery. It was her only option. After being admitted to the hospital on two prior occasions, several emergency room visits, and three blood transfusions later due to severe anemia, she finally decided to make an appointment. A friend of hers that I had cared for referred her. She described her fears that had kept her suffering and discussed how a visit to a gynecologist triggered shame due to her weight. At three hundred and thirty pounds and average height I reassured her surgical options for treatment could be performed safely and scheduled her for a robotic procedure. I was realistic in educating her about the risks of surgery in the setting of her weight. Her fibroids had grown too large over this time period. Most of the visit, she focused on feelings of embarrassment and humiliation about her body. In order to facilitate her feeling at ease to partake in a surgical procedure she needed, we first had to tackle her negative thinking about her body. Her disease, obesity, was due to multiple factors; genetics, life-style, emotional eating, lack of exercise, and a prior knee injury. Exploring each of these contributors empowered Anna to find areas where she could realistically take personal action versus seeking assistance from a trained professional.
Anna was so down on herself, disliking her physical appearance, it paralyzed her from seeking and receiving the treatment she needed. She had an uncomplicated minimally invasive hysterectomy. She went on to use the resources and referrals to a nutritionist and a knee specialist and lost 60 pounds.
Her presenting issue was her fibroid. But the part of her that needed true healing, care and attention was her mind. Sometimes in the midst of the appearance of illness, disease or challenges we forget the miraculous ways in which our bodies serve us and allow us to fully experience life. The more we focus on the discord we are experiencing or spending thought power on what is not working well or needs improvement, our mind becomes fueled and overshadowed by fear, disdain, and negativity instead of gratitude and awe. This toxic energy manifests in the body as disease, pain, and inflammation.
I offer an exercise in self-love. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of self-acceptance. This would be a great practice to implement while honoring him today. For the week, month, or through the entire 2019 let us each embrace this exercise in body gratitude.
-Sit quietly in your favorite space or place
-Close your eyes
-Visualize your body from head to toe
-Starting at the top of your head, visualize your brain, eyes, mouth, neck, throat, heart, abdomen, legs, and feet
-In gratitude, give your body thanks for each miracle it performs perfectly
During my gratitude exercise today I thanked my body for…
-My eyes that are privileged to see all of the beauty of the earth
-My tears for allowing me to release emotions of happiness and sadness
-My heart for not only bringing all of my organs oxygen but mostly for its ability to feel
-My legs that allow me to walk, dance, and navigate my day with ease and grace
-My hands for facilitating my work as a physician and surgeon, and for the warmth I feel when I hold my child’s hand
Honor Health Vow #1 I Pledge to Honor My Body with Acceptance