Carrie Fisher, (writer, actor in the Star Wars movie Franchise and all around very funny person) has been critiqued lately in some articles for “aging badly”. Whatever that means.
In response, Ms Fisher posted this on twitter, “Youth & Beauty are not ACCOMPLISHMENTS, they are the TEMPORARY happy/BiProducts/of Time and or DNA/ Don’t Hold your Breath for either” . Read an article about it here later.
It made me think about body image , expectations and the bigger picture.
My friend Nancy (who is both wise and beautiful) and I once had a conversation about our body struggles (we all have them) and she told me her aspirations were modest, “like you – you have a normal body but it can do things”.
That is the goal for me! – I want to do things. Normal? I guess what is normal is the raw materials you are given. I have never looked like Christie Brinkley and god forbid I should try to compete now. Aging is the ‘happy byproduct” of not dying. I want to be able to move freely, feel confident in my own strength, and have a sense of wellbeing. I want to take care of myself – vanity, pride and style are important.
Yoga philosophy tells us that three of the terms of embodiment are Time, Place and Identity.
No one escapes time. Its one of those things that are not negotiable. No amount of intervention will make now into back then.
Place – have you ever wished you could be two places at once? Me too – wishing did not make it so. I am here not there.
Identity. No matter how much I want to be Beyonce sometimes (oh come on – you’ve had that fantasy too right?) it is not going to happen. I wake up me every time. I am this not that.
Yoga can teach us to take a wider perspective on these ‘things we can not change’.*
A wider perspective of time may involve the practice of contemplating eternity, or imagining all your ancestors and all your descendants. These concepts can help in your day to day life!
We are very good at short term thinking; satisfying cravings now, worrying about the consequences later. In the classic study called the marshmallow test (a famous test on delayed gratification) – the science seems to link all sorts of benefits to having this wider perspective of time. If we want to feel better in 3 months, we need to be practiced at holding that thought.
An example of holding a wider perspective of space may be understanding that what we do here effects what happens elsewhere. Like the effects of climate change.
Understanding the complexity of identity means knowing “I am nothing like you, I am something like you and I am nothing but you”, and holding all of them as true.
Yoga can teach us to make friends with the body we have and also to realize we have a new body every minute. The body changes with or without our participation. Yoga can also help us keep a close watch on our fantasies, and maybe even be a tool for us to hold up the mirror to the truth of who we really are.