52 Ways To Love Your Body (New Harbinger, 2016), by Kimber Simpkins is a guide for embracing the body that you are in. Learning to love your body means no longer wasting your energy on body hatred and giving yourself back all that time to change the world instead. In her book, Simpkins shares with readers many of her favorite ways to treat her body with love and let go of the yearning for perfection, feeding her true hungers, and freeing herself of the mean girl voice she bullied herself with for years. And best of all, these practices not only have helped her, but also have been life changing for the many students in her workshops whose shift from body hating to body loving she's been lucky enough to witness. It may feel impossible to believe that peace can be made with your body and you can even learn to love it. Maybe you’ve spent your entire life until now wishing your body were different, and you’re thinking that one little book isn’t going to change that. But change is based on practice, and you have to begin somewhere. That’s what this book is offering you — practices that can change your life. Let the practices here inspire and support your quest to become the friend your body deserves. By coming this far, you’re already on your way.
When was the last time you felt grass tickling the spaces between your toes? When did you last swim in a natural pond, or skip rocks across a lake, or feel sand pulling under your feet as the waves poured over them? Sit among the roots of a tree, lean your body against its trunk, and feel the breath entering your lungs expand your back against its bark. Notice how your body feels sharing air with the branches and leaves. Remember that your body belongs to the earth every bit as much as the roots beneath you do.
Our bodies are nature, every bit as extraordinary as the most soulful range of mountains or the wildest waterfall. We forget that our bodies are as natural as rain when we spend more time with our devices than we do with tomatoes and moss and birds. Look at “the narrowest hinge” on your hand, that smallest knuckle on your pinky. Recall Walt Whitman’s words: that knuckle “puts to scorn all machinery.”24 Hold out your pinky and watch as you curl it open and closed. The Good Gray Poet had it right…that top knuckle of your little finger is a miracle of evolutionary engineering that we still only dream of inventing technology to imitate.
Your fingers unfurl just like the frond of a fern, like the curl of a wave on the ocean, like the cone of a shell formed grain by grain under the surf. Sitting in nature, my body remembers that it is at home, that it belongs here, that it is an inseparable part of this messy, lively world.
Here are some ways to remember your true nature and enjoy your body in the outdoors:
- At the beach: Use your feet to make messages in the wet sand. Bury your legs in the warm, dry sand. Play tag with the waves. Take a nap in the sun. Build a castle at the edge of the water and invite a friend to smush it with you when you’re done.
- At the park or meadow: Take off your shoes and let your feet explore the different textures of earth and green. Roll down a grassy hill. Do a cartwheel. Skip. Lie on your belly and watch the ants weave back and forth. Climb a tree. Make a chain of flowers and wear it.
- In the snow: Have a snowball fight. Build a fort. Lie down and make a snow angel. When your toes and fingers get cold, run inside and drink something hot to warm yourself up from the inside out.
- In the garden: Taste different herbs and flowers. Mix some of them together and see how they change each other’s scent. Dip your nose into flowers and sniff deeply. Water the plants with a can instead of a hose and feel the weight of the water as it pours into the earth. Dig your fingers deep into the soil and feel all the temperatures and textures. Cup a handful to your nose and inhale.
- In the forest: Lie down and look up at all the giant trees and the sky beyond. Feel your back on the earth and let your eyes explore the canopy above. Find a tree and rub your back against it like a bear. Lean against the tree and stretch and arch your body. See if you can find a tree to hide behind and imagine you’re an animal waiting to see who wanders by. Let yourself listen to the sound of leaves brushing against one another in the wind.
- Anywhere: Make time to watch the sunset. You only get a finite number of sunsets in your life, so try to enjoy the changing colors and light whenever you can. Enjoying it with someone you love makes it extra awesome. If you’re a morning person, pause and welcome the sun each morning, too!
See if connecting to nature helps you relate to your body with more patience and love.