Body image issue, where it shouldn’t exist in the first place

In the areas where people are struggling everyday to attain the basic food and water resources to survive, to have a place to rest and be sheltered from harsh weather, to be free from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, discrimination, hatred, war and violence, there won’t be such body image issue existing.

Meanwhile, in the modern commercialized society with higher technology and comfortable or fancy lifestyle, where economy and spending power is stable and strong, where basic and higher education came with various subjects and interests is accessible for everyone, where people have the luxury to indulge in physical and mental enjoyments of the senses of sights/visuals, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts/ideas/creativity/imaginations, where food is easily and excessively available in various forms and tastes, where food has gone beyond being a basic necessity of life but becoming an enjoyment of taste, where water and electricity supply and various modern facilities are available easily, where clothing is no longer a basic material to keep warm and be protected from insects and cuts but plays as an important role for self-image and self-esteem, where people are being presented with different choices of lifestyle and leisure activities, where people are interested in promoting health, beauty and fitness, and put importance into personal and general hygiene, where people can travel easily from one place to another, where people can have dreams and ambitions to be fulfilled, where countless opportunities are available for everyone, but then ridiculously, many people are being troubled by body image issue, which is truly unnecessary.

It doesn’t matter people are being knowledgeable, or intelligent, or talented and skillful in certain subjects, or highly educated, or having a successful career, or having a high profile in the community or society, or having a generous income and an easy comfortable high technology living standard, many people are being troubled very much by body image issue, unwittingly.

People’s state of mind, the sense of meaningfulness, confidence, self-esteem, happiness and sense of self-worth and well-being are very much determined by the body image consists of facial features, skin condition, hair condition, physical appearance, body shape, body composition, physical condition, physical ability and achievement, that they like or dislike, satisfied or dissatisfied with, based on a particular standard that they set for themselves to comply to.

People get depressed when they think they have a body image issue, that they are dissatisfied with and dislike their facial features, skin condition, body hair, hair condition and style, physical appearance, body shape, physical condition and ability as it is, that they prefer or desire their body to be something different from what it is now, according to what they think is better, nicer, healthier, fitter, stronger, younger, prettier, or more attractive.

To counter this body image issue, most people will try to achieve the body image that they would like to have, that they think is the best body image, that would give them the sense of satisfaction and good feelings about their bodies and themselves.

Even many of the yoga classes in the world are emphasizing on promoting improvement in physical appearance, physical condition and ability, to boost people’s self-esteem, confidence, sense of self-worth and well-being. And the yoga teachers/instructors aspire to portray a body image of ‘good’ or ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘attractive’ or ‘high performance’ kind of physical appearance, condition and ability to inspire or motivate the yoga students to also achieve the similar form of body image (enhanced physical appearance, condition, ability and performance.) – “I can achieve this, so can you!” or “Yoga makes you look better and feel better!” But this is not the teaching and practice of yoga. This is empowering ignorance and egoism. It might give them momentary good feelings and confidence about their body and themselves (the ego) by achieving the kind of body image that they prefer, but it doesn’t help people to be free from the suffering of low self-esteem and depression derived from attachment and identification with the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability to be who they are. Once the quality of the body image that they like, that they attached onto and identified with, that makes them feel good and confident about themselves starts to change into something else or is no longer available due to impermanence, they will suffer from disappointment, dissatisfaction, self-hate, self-criticism, low self-esteem, depression, self-harm, and so on.

When people think they are disturbed by body image issue, that is mainly due to ignorance and egoism. There is great identification and attachment towards the physical body and all that is related to the physical body, to be ‘I’, or what they think is who they are.

Realize yoga or selflessness, be free from identification and attachment towards the physical body, and body image issues won’t be existing at all. One will take good care of the well-being of the physical body, out of compassion, without attachment towards the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability, without identification with the physical body as ‘I’, or ‘Who I am’. Be kind to the body, live a healthy lifestyle to benefit the physical body, and allowing the physical body to improve and change to be what it is, as it is, without any egoistic desire or intention or expectation to make or transform or change the physical body to be the way that ‘I’ would like it to be, so that ‘I’ will feel good, happy, satisfied and confident about ‘my’ body and ‘I’. This truly is loving our body, accepting the body as it is, while allowing all the changes to be there as they are, to be what they are.

Expecting the body to be the way that we like it to be, and constantly straining and forcing the physical body with intense physical training so that it will be able to do what we want it to do, and to look the way that we want it to look, to achieve the body image that we prefer/desire, is not loving our body, but it’s the ego loving what it likes and wants. “I want my body to be like this or to be able to do that.” Again, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their body, and how they want to treat their body.

Be free.

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Are we really practicing yoga?

We are not really practicing yoga, if we are being conditioned by what our mind believes what things are.

Anything that we believe and think is ‘not good’ or ‘not perfect’ is conditioned by subjective ‘standards’ coming from our own perception and recognition about what things are, but it is not coming from the objects themselves.

In different cultural beliefs, being “fat” can be ‘not good’ for some people, but can be ‘very good’ for some other people. What we think is ‘not perfect’ can be ‘perfectly as it is’ for some other people.

Things that might seem like “big problems” for us, might be “no problems at all” for some other people.

It is up to us, how we want to conditioned our mind, or free our mind from conditions.

We either limit ourselves by generate a lot of “standards” and “qualities” for ourselves to live up to, or limit ourselves by allowing other people’s “standards” and “qualities” to determine us.

We also apply our own type of “qualities” and “standards” onto everyone and everything, expecting everyone and everything should also comply to these “qualities” and “standards”, and be judged by these “qualities” and “standards”. We categorize everyone and everything into categories according to our own “standards” of what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’.

The point is, we are free, until the moment we start to apply ‘beliefs’, ‘ideas’, ‘standards’, and ‘qualities’ onto ourselves and towards other people and everything. Expect ourselves, other people and things have to be like this or like that. Making ourselves not free, and disturbing other people as well.

Just by doing some yoga asana exercises and poses, or pranayama, or studying, discussing, talking, reading and hearing the philosophy of yoga, or chanting and praying in Sanskrit everyday, but without practicing the true meanings of non-dualism in everyday life, constantly being disturbed, affected and determined by the good and bad qualities of names and forms, and generate craving and aversion towards what we like and dislike, agree and disagree with, being influenced by discrimination, anger, hatred, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear and worry, not knowing the practice of non-attachment and non-identification, then it is like performing lots of actions improving the function of the mind, the body, the hands, the feet, and the sense organs, having a good condition ‘vehicle’ with full tank of fuel, but we forgot to learn how to ‘drive’ this good condition ‘vehicle’ towards Freedom or Moksha.

Om shanti.

Intimidated by other people’s physical conditions and abilities in yoga (asana) practice?

If we have been putting in the same amount of time, discipline and effort into our daily yoga (asana) practice, just like those who have been spending lots of time, discipline and effort to keep the body and mind busy engaging in regular yoga (asana) practice, whether for spiritual growth, or for health and fitness reason, or for both;
we won’t have the free space in the mind, nor have the free time to be busy looking at other people’s ‘performance’ or result of a persistent and regular practice, and feel either envy, or intimidated by other people’s physical conditions and abilities, and spiritual improvement.

Although yoga, or unconditional love and peace is nothing to do with the levels of physical conditions and abilities, but naturally, there will be certain amount of improvement in physical conditions and abilities, as an ‘unavoidable’ side effect coming from regular yoga (asana) practice, whether we are aiming at it or not, or whether we like it or not.

We do not intent nor expect to gain any physical fitness, strength and flexibility while performing the yoga (asana) practice, as that is not the objective or goal of performing yoga (asana) practice, and our basic yoga practice is non-identification with the impermanent conditional physical body and the thinking mind. But the physical and mental effect coming from the regular yoga (asana) practice is still there.

The body will gain certain degrees of fitness, strength and flexibility, and the mind will gain certain degrees of calmness and peace. But that is not the end of our yoga practice. We need to use that physical condition and state of mind that is conducive for meditation, to contemplate upon the truth, to go beyond the body and mind, to remove ignorance, to be free from being conditioned by egoism, duality, qualities of names and forms.

We will never feel intimidated by anyone or anything, if we truly practice yoga and meditation.

Om shanti.

Give yourself 15 minutes, to get you going in daily yoga asana practice…

Before the start of yoga asana practice, it’s normal that our mind feels reluctant to move the physical body. We will give ourselves ‘reasonable’ excuses to escape a two hours of daily yoga asana practice.

The point is, even before we bring the body to perform daily yoga asana practice, to overcome that ‘laziness’ or ‘struggle’ is our real yoga practice.

To develop strong self-discipline in anything that we want to pursue is indeed our yoga practice. It’s not so much about how good we are in what we are doing. But to keep up the discipline is where the practice is.

It is only the first 15 minutes of physical movements that we feel ‘struggle’. After 15 minutes or so, it will turn into ‘enjoyable’ and ‘energizing’ that you don’t want to be disturbed until you finish your daily two hours routine.

That’s why I encourage anyone to do some yoga asana practice even just for 15 minutes (It’s a trick, but it works). Because that is what you need to get your body going. You will no longer need someone to ‘push’ you to ‘finish’ your daily 2 hours routine. As the energy fields in your body will tell you, “Yes! Keep going… 15 minutes is not enough.”

Om shanti.

Why being determined by life when we can make good use of life existence for benefiting ourselves and others?

Why being determined by life when we can make good use of life existence for benefiting ourselves and others?

It doesn’t matter our life condition is ‘good’ or ‘not so good’, or whether it is the way that we like it to be or not, we don’t have to be determined by it to be peaceful or not.

When our life is in ‘good’ condition, we take the advantage and opportunity to make good use of it for benefiting ourselves and others, without feeling proud and arrogant. Knowing that even this ‘comfortable’ condition will change and pass away.

When our life is in ‘not so good’ condition, we allow ourselves to accept the reality as it is, allow ourselves to be temporary excused from certain duty and responsibility, without feeling guilty, depressed or unhappy. Knowing that even this ‘difficult’ condition will change and pass away. We also allow other beings to show loving kindness and develop compassion towards those who are in ‘not so good’ conditions, and to be grateful and appreciate the ‘good’ condition that they have.

Appreciate this life existence, this body and this mind, and the time being, to do something beneficial and meaningful for ourselves and others. Such like, love ourselves and accepting ourselves as we are, stop criticizing ourselves and stop hurting ourselves with anger and hatred, fear and worry. And do the same towards other beings.

Time doesn’t really exist in reality. It is just the perception of the mind perceiving changes of the qualities of names and forms that is subject to impermanence. Time exists in the mind, but it doesn’t belong to the mind, or who we think we are. There’s no such thing as ‘my time’ or ‘wasting my time’. But then it seems like in this moment there is ‘time’ for us to spend freely to be doing something (performing beneficial actions that will promote harmony in ourselves and others) or doing nothing (refrain from performing harmful actions that will promote disharmony in ourselves and others).

Make good use of the thinking and reasoning power of the mind, the hands, the feet, the speech organ and the hearing organ, for ourselves and others.

When there are moments that we need to take a break from doing something, we enjoy doing nothing (such like when we don’t have any specific duty or responsibility to be carried out, or when our body experiences some illness or injuries, or any degeneration or malfunctions of the body and mind).

When we have the potential and opportunity to make use of this body and mind to do something good for ourselves and others, we perform all our actions with gratitude and joy, but without attachment or expectation towards the result of our actions. Be grateful that we are being given the opportunity to use the thinking mind, the creativity, the ideas, the hands, the feet and the speech organ for doing something good or nice for ourselves and others.

Do not let the life conditions, the body and the mind to determine us, or to ‘influence’ us to be peaceful or not, or to be ‘used’ by the ego to magnify its false existence as ‘I’. Instead, we make use of them to do something that is beyond our own belief, thinking or imagination of what we can do with this life opportunity.

When we perform actions with expectation, we are bound by our actions, and be determined by the result of the action. We are not free. This life existence is being used by the ego to accomplish its desires of craving and aversion.

If we know how to perform all actions whether it is for ourselves or for others, without attachment or expectation towards the result of the action, we are free. This life existence is being used for something beneficial for all beings.

When our mind starts to expand by cultivating compassion towards other beings and performing all our actions to benefit all beings, it will stop focusing on personal life problems. Personal life problems are still there, but it will become less and less important until it vanished from the mind. There’s no problem or unhappiness at all, even though there are ups and downs, and obstacles in life.

Om shanti.