Have you ever felt as if you just don’t belong? I would assume that we have all felt that way at some point in our journeys. But, for some people, this is a pervading sense of always being an outsider.
I remember being at a convention several years ago and feeling super excited to be there. I loved the association and had been a part of it for years. I was excited to go be among other people who had similar passions. However, standing in a huge ballroom full of other people who also supported what I supported, I felt as if I just wasn’t one of them. I remember participating, but thinking to myself that I wasn’t like everyone else there. I had an overwhelming sense of pretending to fit and feeling all alone as an outsider.
As I have studied the ancient mind-body science of Ayurveda and have begun to teach others the daily habits of self-care for truly getting in touch with the body’s natural rhythms, I have begun to see that I felt like an outsider around others because I didn’t feel at home in my own body. Feeling that you don’t belong out there is inextricably tied to feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.
I have perfectionistic tendencies and extreme standards, especially for myself. For years, starting in high school, I hated my body. I was constantly criticizing myself, comparing myself to others, and wishing that I looked a different way. I believed that because my appearance wasn’t like the models on the covers of magazines that I was ‘less than’. I put tons of pressure on myself to prove my worth in other ways and had serious doubts that I was worth being around. I resented my body and felt as if I had no control over it at all. I judged myself as a failure for not being able to force my body into perfectionistic ideals that the media portrayed as the standard. These beliefs led to very unhealthy habits and disorders.
As I got into working out and learned more about nutrition, things got better, but I never really loved myself or accepted my body just as it was. I believed that I could beat my body into submission and I could accept it as good enough. I still didn’t feel great in my body or comfortably ‘at home’ in my own skin. I always felt as if I had something to prove to overcome this belief of lack.
Yoga made a big difference for me and for years, it was my mental and spiritual therapy. It still is. And then, I began learning about Ayurveda and this strange recommended daily habit of self-massage. At first, I read about it and cognitively learned the benefits and procedures, but still did not actually practice abhyanga or oil massage. And then I found a tribe of people who were also learning about Ayurveda and some of them expressed having the same doubts and experiences that I was having.
So, I tried it.
A post on chopra.com, tells us that “the Sanskrit word Sneha can be translated as both “oil” and “love.” It is believed that the effects of Abhyanga are similar to those received when one is saturated with love. Like the experience of being loved, Abhyanga can give a deep feeling of stability and warmth.”
The practice of self-massage can actually be done with or without oil depending on your level of comfort and it is supremely nourishing for not only the body, but also for the spirit. I have experienced the magical transformation that occurs when the hands really get in touch with the body. I have also seen clients who are suffering from a great deal of anxiety and self-doubt experience remarkable transformation through this practice of abhyanga.
This practice is recommended to enable healing from all manner of trauma as well as eating disorders, body image disorders, anxiety disorders… the list goes on and on. Tuning in to the body with gratitude and appreciation every day is a remarkable way to feel as if you belong in your own body and in the universe.
Sometimes we also need the reminder that we are not our bodies. We are the spirits living inside of our bodies for this journey. And we will have this body for the entire ride, so it is important to feel comfortable and at home there. Also, our appearance, experiences, and abilities do not define our worth. We have worth simply because we are here.
If you are interested in trying self-massage, but using oil seems like too much, start by massaging your skin with your hands when you first wake in the morning. Use long strokes on the long bones and circles at the joints. Start at your feet and make your way up to your head to draw energy up and get ready for the day ahead.
Or you can start with giving yourself a foot massage when you get into bed at night. I love using a little coconut oil (it soaks in quickly) and massaging my toes, feet, ankles, and calves to help settle energy get ready for sleep.
If you want to feel like you belong, you have to start within. You can use your own hands as a way to shift your beliefs about yourself and how it feels to show up in the world. Give it a try.
You know I will be right here trying along with you. Every day.
Talk again soon,
You can check out the article on chopra.com here for more details and directions for your own self-massage practice: https://chopra.com/articles/the-benefits-of-ayurveda-self-massage-%E2%80%9Cabhyanga%E2%80%9D