Ready to feel comfortable in your own skin? Stop placing your body on a pedestal, and just start living in it.
“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”
It’s one of my favorite quotes from the late, great Anthony Bourdain. Reflecting back on this quote and its actual meaning, there’s something about the whole concept of “your body is a temple” thing that doesn’t quite sit right.
Have you ever actually been to a temple? Often times, there are some pretty intense rituals involved to keep the temple pure. For example, when I visited one in Japan, I had to purify my hands and mouth with water before entering. I had to take my shoes off and not allow my socked feet touch the ground before entering in order to keep the floors clean. I was unable to go in if I was sick or had an open wound. The temples were immaculately cared for, as I watched people raking the leaves off the gravel walkway and they literally got every last leaf. It was pretty impressive.
That may work for a temple, but that seems like a pretty intense level of care for a body that’s designed to take some wear and tear.
What happens when the saying “your body is a temple” is used in the context of wellness? It can be used to justify some clean eating plan, detox, or intense yoga program. This can feel demoralizing and shaming if you don’t follow such strict regimens, and it doesn’t necessarily encourage a person to treat their bodies well. So what’s another way to look at our bodies?
Instead, think of your body as a home.
A home is a place to feel comfortable. It’s a place where you know every creaky wooden floorboard and where to place a towel when it rains really hard. You know the best place to sit to enjoy the morning sunlight streaming through the windows. A home is where you feel cozy, safe and secure, and a feeling we all deserve to have in our own bodies.
Just like our actual home, we are allowed to decorate our bodily home however we like – makeup, tattoos, hair coloring, comfy clothes, revealing clothes, trendy clothes – you name it. And while certain decorating choices might get you some looks (like parachute pants or painting your house hot pink), you still get to do what you want.
It’s always smart to take good care of our home, because you’re going to live in it for awhile.
But just like there are some dirty dishes in my sink, a garden that needs to be weeded, some drafts that need to be sealed, I know that I don’t have to keep my bodily home in immaculate condition either. But at the same time, if I let that small leak in our shower go on for too long, it might become a bigger issue that causes water damage. When there’s something off in my physical home, I don’t want to let it go on too long without addressing it.
Our homes deserve to be treated with respect, both by ourselves, and by others. It is our place, so we dictate the boundaries about how it should be treated. Do you want people to take their shoes off at the front door? Then they take their shoes off at the front door.
Sometimes our homes don’t do what we want, despite our interventions. Weeds that grow in places that you do not want them to, or the slight shift in the foundation that may be causing the door frames in your house to lean a bit to the right. We don’t always have complete control over our physical home, and the same goes for our bodily homes. Things break down over time, and sometimes there are just issues that have been there from the beginning.
But that’s OK, because a home is a place where you live. It’s where you play, relax, learn, grow and just be. It’s where you have memories that are happy, sad, mundane and sweet. You may not love everything about it, but it is yours.
It is part of you, but it is not all of you.
Adapted from the original article.
HEADER IMAGE: SARAH DORWEILER
Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE is a private practice dietitian, food enthusiast, and nutrition expert based in Columbia, SC. By guiding others to rediscover the joy of nourishment rather than deprivation, Rachael helps men and women alike improve their health and well-being through delicious whole food recipes and practical advice through intuitive eating.