Several times each week, I work with clients who desire the benefits of massage, but are obviously anxious or even terrified about getting undressed. As a recovering shame-aholic, I understand this dilemma completely. When you dislike your body, you want to hide it. You don’t want anyone to know your secrets of imperfection for fear of being rejected or humiliated. I lived most of my adult life like this. It’s debilitating and isolating to experience the world through these lenses. As a compassionate person and professional therapist, I want everybody to be 100% comfortable during each session, so I take the time to explain that I will leave the room while clients undress as much or as little as they wish, and that they will be covered and their privacy protected. Yet I often still recognize that look of panic in their eyes while we are chatting before the session begins.
One day after working with a client like this, I was bicycling home and came across a hawk resting on a fence. I stopped to witness this creature’s majestic presence. I contemplated how regal this bird looked and felt a wave of inspiration. This hawk has never, not once, been ashamed of it’s body or feathers or beak. It has never thought, “Oh, if only I was sleeker or faster or more colorful.” It does not sit around criticizing itself or categorizing its faults. It just simply is. A hawk accepts itself exactly as it is, without a need to compare itself to another. (Or at least, so I imagine!) Can you visualize a beautiful bird like this hiding its head under its wing whimpering, “Don’t look at me! I’m not worthy. I’m just a hawk. I should have been an eagle.”??? NO!
So why do we humans treat ourselves this way? I believe it’s because we’ve forgotten who we truly are; that we are unique individuals with talents and passions that contribute to a better world; that we are worthy of being loved and accepted just the way we are. Not because of what we’ve done to prove this worth, but just simply for being ourselves. What a relief it is to drop the constant stream of self-criticism and to relax into the comfort of self-acceptance. I invite you to try an experiment and invoke the spirit of the magnificent hawk next time you feel doubts about your appearance, performance, or worthiness. It’s impossible to feel ashamed about anything when you’re in the flow of proud hawk energy.