LOVE YOURSELF: A BODY WORSHIP RITUAL

Learn how worship your body with the same reverence you show when entering a sacred space of prayer, says Kitty Cavalier.  Artwork: Pedro Sacadura

As a little girl, I loved volunteering to clean my church after mass on Sundays. My family and a few other parish members would polish the pews, switch out the flowers on the altar, sweep the long processional aisle of dust bunnies and organize the hymnals. As a very devoted little Catholic girl, I felt like I was being given a backstage pass to my favorite concert. Tending and caring for what I considered God’s house was a huge honor and made me feel quite elite.

As time (read: puberty) went by, my beliefs about religion began to shift tremendously. As Mae West once said: “I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” The church no longer felt even remotely like home – and as for many of us, my spiritual path since has followed more of a curve than a straight line. But there’s been one constant throughout: my body.

“My body is my temple” – it sounds so cliché. But let’s really think about it for a second. A temple is defined as “a space devoted to religious reverence,” and I can think of no greater house of worship than the cathedral of my very own heart. There is no holier a song than the sweet hum of my inhale and exhale. The light in my eyes mirrors the warmth of a candle’s flame. My skin houses and protects me like the smooth, lavish marble of the Taj Mahal, and the flush of my cheeks after an orgasm can put the ceiling of Sistine chapel to shame.

Yes, my body IS my temple. So today I’d like to share with you one of my personal favorite rituals to start 2016 off right: body worship. There is no way to do this ritual wrong. Just like learning a prayer or a hymn, a little heart, a sprinkling of soul, and practice is all it takes.

Suggested supplies for this body worship ritual:

  • Body Oil (such as coconut oil)
  • A mirror propped against a wall
  • A body scrub (like some sea salt mixed with body oil), or a loofah
  • A towel
  • Candlelight, incense, flowers, or anything else that helps you set sacred space
  • Music: click here for a free, hand-curated Body Worship Ritual playlist

1. Set Sacred Space
Imagine you are setting space for the high holy days of your inner temple. You can light candles, burn incense, place rose petals on your bath mat, fold your towel as you would for a guest, play music, or anything else that evokes the spirit of the sacred for you.

2. Tending The Temple Grounds
Step into the shower or bath. As you wash and scrub your skin, do so with the same care, attention and tenderness that you would show to the house of the Divine. Scrub and loofah your elbows and knees with the same softness and reverence you would show when walking into a sacred temple. Imagine that as you caress your body with soap suds, every bubble of soap is like a flower laid down in offering at the altar of YOU. When you rinse your body, feel the water wash away that which no longer serves you, and it’s healing power to make space for something new to enter.

3. The Sacrament of Body Worship
Now you have prepared the temple, you are ready for ceremony and worship! Place a soft blanket or towel on the floor in front of your mirror. Position yourself naked by candlelight seated on the floor and bow to the beauty of your reflection. Take the body oil and warm it between your holy hands, using your breath to blow a prayer of gratitude into the oil. Then, allow your hands to be both pilgrim and priestess, as they slowly, reverently massage prayers into your skin. Approach each curve and corner of your body as a different room in the temple waiting to be explored.

4. Encountering Eternity
When you feel complete with your body worship, get very close to the mirror. Stare deep into your own eyes and see if you can glimpse the part of you that is eternal, that never ages, and transcends time. Just like that sense of divinity we feel when we walk on sacred ground, that spirit is right there, woven into the fibers of your DNA. All that’s required to encounter it, is the courage to really look.

TARYN TOOMEY: MOVE YOUR BODY TO HEAL YOUR SOUL

Taryn Toomey has built a cult following for her Shamanic-inspired workout, the class. She explains how it’s all been part of her own healing journey. Video and portrait: Jennifer Medina

You have to have the courage to let it all go.

THE FEAR.

I have had a very long, sticky road these past few years. Hell, let’s call it like it is – the past 36 years. From the outside it could look all rosy but, like our lives on social media, there’s always something deeper, truer.

I grew up in a very complicated family (didn’t we all in some way?) but as a child, I absorbed a lot of those unsupportive patterns and continued to think: “it always has to be this way.” I called myself names, believed them, hated myself, was embarrassed to live in my body. I didn’t trust those around me; I questioned everything; it seemed like everyone was “out to get me.”

I didn’t want it to feel that way, but I was so fearful of letting it go, because it was what I knew.

These past few years have been about breaking that cycle. For my children, for the forward of my family, and, once and for all, for me. I decided that the history I lived doesn’t need to be part of the future I continue to create. It happened. Let’s move on. Right? I wish! It wasn’t that EASY.

Over the years I worked with psychologists, analysts, plant medicines, shamans, Eastern doctors, invested in good old fashioned friendships and more. But, in the end, I realized I didn’t need to talk about it anymore; I had TO MOVE IT. But I also had to keep it simple and do it BEAT BY BEAT.

And so came ‘the class.’ I knew I would need fire, heart and soul to get this story up and out of my DNA. I needed shaking, contraction, sound, release,intention, forgiveness and stillness. And music, to help me take it beat by beat, breath by breath.

In the world of fitness I have heard way too many things pushed into people’s psyches that are FEAR based, stemming from the “guru’s” own fears, ego, and the need to make others live in fear with them.

“Don’t do THIS it will bulk you, don’t do THAT you’ll ruin your body!”

But we aren’t all made the same, and these “theories” don’t apply to us as a whole.

How about…

Move how you NEED TO.
Move so you can FEEL GOOD.
Move to CREATE NEW SPACE for YOU TO LIVE IN.
Move to wake up, be alive, present, engaged, and to come UNSTUCK from the past.
Move to get out of the EGO – the one that makes you stare at yourself and size up every last centimeter of your body, gripping the mirror with your eyes, criticizing, loving and over dramatizing the things that don’t matter.

At the end of the day, if you don’t work on the parts of you that no one can see, you can change the shape of your body all you want, but living inside of it wont be pretty. It’s time to close your eyes and go INSIDE. The body you’re looking for is not out there. IT’S IN YOU.

Set’s move, people. Not in the “right” way, not in the “pretty” way, but in the way that you need to release the fear. Let’s gather the courage to let it all go. Moving this way is what’s saved my life, the future lives of my children, their children, and hopefully a whole lot of others.

When you move, summon the courage to let it all go. And take it beat, by beat, by beat…

ONWARD.

Follow the link to book and experience the class with Taryn Toomey for yourself.

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