Cultivating Body Acceptance

Self-love is a critical step in achieving long-term wellness and vitality.

Regardless of physical condition and overall health, cultivating body acceptance is a critical step in achieving long-term wellness and vitality.

This may seem like a catch-22 if we’re obese or fighting a chronic illness. Being unhappy with our current physical state is often viewed as a productive catalyst for making the lifestyle changes needed to reach our health goals.

But here’s the real catch: If our actions aren’t coming from a place of compassion and love for ourselves, then our inner critic will always be there to tell us that we’re still not good enough, thin enough, beautiful enough, healthy enough, etc.

If we allow this critical voice to control us, then that calm center of inner peace and love--the essential core of long-term health--will always elude us.

Still, practicing self-love and compassion isn’t easy in today’s media-saturated landscapes. An excellent way to cultivate this source of inner strength is with mindful meditation, as well as other mind-body practices like yoga, tai chi, and qi gong. These practices help us to open and expand our hearts, while finding peace and a sense of calm amid the circumstances that surround us.

With regular practice, they help to increase our feelings of love and compassion for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around us. Studies show that mind-body practices and even the expression of gratitude work on a biochemical level to reduce blood pressure, inflammation and stress hormones, and boost immunity, genetic health, happiness, and quality of life.

So while mindful meditation and other mind-body practices help us cultivate inner peace, love, and compassion--regardless of our circumstances--these exercises also measurably enhance numerous areas of health to support us on our healing journey.

About Dr. Eliaz

Isaac Eliaz, MD, LAc, is medical director of the integrative health center Amitabha Medical Clinic in California.