Archive for February, 2012

HOURGLASS FIGURES How much time do we spend thinking about having the perfect bod?

“I’m too fat.”

“My biceps aren’t big enough!”

“I need to drop a pants size.”

Chronic dieters and body-checkers, as well as fitness addicts whose drive to obtain the perfect body is often questionable—what’s the real motive?—can probably relate to some of those phrases. Sure, gay men may not be the only souls who think such thoughts, but let’s face it, the pressure to look a certain way; to create the body beautiful, is overtly prevalent in gay culture.

For self-checkers, no part of the body is left un-examined. So determined are we to be something other than we are—at the present moment—that we tend to engage in a sort of guerilla warfare, stopping at nothing until we reach our perceived ideal weight, size, fit. You name it.

We may be men, but sometimes we act like babies, violently shaking the rattle of our psyches in our futile quests to obtain the “perfect” bod. Ultimately, we morph into ruthless people, lost in a trance. We don’t realize our true worth. We forget who we really are. We can’t be happy unless we …

Have

That

Look!!!

As in his. Somebody other than you.

But we don’t have to forget who we are. We don’t have to stop appreciating ourselves or our body—whatever size it is.

What would happen if we spent an entire day practicing the art of just listening to what we’re saying to ourselves? As in, consciously taking a mental step back and just noticing our thoughts?

Imagine that. Try it right now. Listen to yourself. What are you telling yourself … about you?

Henry David Thoreau once said: “Thought is the sculptor who can create the person you want to be.”

I like this one by Deepak Chopra: “In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you.”

For professional mood swingers out there—I’ve been known to make a career out of that, too, you’re not alone—that last quote may provoke a chuckle. Keep stillness inside of you? How the heck …?

Just listen—to you.

That’s the first step. You don’t need to do anything more. You don’t even need to judge what you are thinking. (Although, most of us will be tempted.) But if you can just practice listening, serenity is not that far behind. Because the more you listen to yourself from a detached point of view, you eventually come to realize that the severe critical thinking you may be engaging in, cannot possibly be a reflection of the real you.

Ultimately, we must come to realize that any equation where the sum equals “I’m Not Good Enough” simply cannot be true. How can it?  Still, it takes time to integrate this. It takes practice.

But we’re strong. Stronger than we realize. If we could survive our childhood, dates gone wrong, horrible breakups, bad hair days … surely, we can survive our unmanaged thoughts. But first we have to pay attention to them. (If we’re willing to work our bodies like banshees for that ideal “look,” then surely, we have the willpower to notice our thoughts.)

I’m willing to shut up and give it a try. How about you?

I once had a Life Coach who suggested, for effectiveness, to jot down a Daily Top Six. In an effort to stay organized, the Top Six would list the things that were important to accomplish on that day. After a while, I began to include a Top Six of things I was grateful for. I did this every morning. The list soon grew to 11—my favorite number. Nevertheless, it helped fuel my brain with the type of spiritual protein I needed. What you focus on grows, after all,  so why not begin the day with focusing on the things you’re grateful for? (Especially when you find yourself believing you must change your body to fit a certain ideal.)

When we’re locked into to thinking we’re not perfect; when we crave so deeply to be something other than we are right now; when we insist that there is something wrong with our bodies—many gay men are lost in this endless cycle—we lose sight of how valuable our lives actually are, and more importantly, how they can be.

 Take note of six things to be gratitude for today. 
Your Friends: Club pals are fun, but who are your real friends? Who “gets” you? Your gym partner … or somebody able to see your deeper self? Take stock of those people you really connect with. We live in a world where so much “non connection” exists, and is encouraged—don’t fool yourself with Facebook and Twitter because, over time, our use of those Social Media bitches, can actually distract us, rather than bring us closer together.

Your Family: Many gay men relish their extended families; those close friends and associates that may not be part of their genetic family. However “family” has played itself out in our lives, we all know who are “family” is. Relish their presence in your life today. 

Your Partnerships: Who do you love? Who loves you? How do you express your love? How do you receive it? Check in with yourself and consider all  the relationships in your life—from personal to professional. Give thanks that they are there. Give thanks that you are on the receiving end of goodwill. 

 Your Health: No brainer, right? But think about it: how often do we really give thanks for our good health? Or, our ability to use our arms and legs; our eyes to see; our nose to smell; our tongue to taste? We can take these things for granted. Our bodies are so perfectly designed. When we spend time criticizing it, believing that it MUST look a certain way, we’re dishonoring ourselves. Be grateful for the body you have—today. Right now. Not when the six-pack abs arrive. (Be grateful for that, too, if you must, but stay in the “now.”)

Abs-solutely Fabulous? Sure. Why not?

Your Connection To Something Good: It’s a spiritual smorgasbord out there. Chances are, if you’re committed to doing the inner work, and evolving spiritually, you inherently believe in something good, something bigger than, well, you … and just having the perfect glutes. (They’re nice, but I’m not sure how much they’re giving back to the world—well … on second thought …)

That You’re Alive—Relish It: Go the mirror and take a look at your fine self. Really—do it. Stand there for about three to five minutes, take a deep breath and actually look at yourself. (In the eyes, mister!) Now, think about it: the YOU that you are … the YOU that got you up this morning … the YOU that got you through your day … the YOU that has been breathing and operating in the world—all that you’ve seen, said, felt and more—on this very day is unique. The YOU that you are is not an accident. There is NOTHING wrong with you. You’re life is not spinning out of control because you’re biceps aren’t “big enough.” So, express some gratitude for your life—not just your muscles. If you need a little push, take note: a report published in UNAIDS, WHO and UNICEF in November 2011, and that refers to the end of 2010, notes the following: There are an estimated 34 million people living with AIDS; 3.4 million children live with AIDS; there were 1.8 million deaths related to AIDS in 2010. Being fit and healthy is one thing, but really … we need to be reminded to keep in perspective.

(For fun, play the Gratitude Experiment—video above—and express gratitude to somebody else in your life. See if they are able to “receive” your praise.)