I've got a perfect body.
What comes to your mind when you hear this statement? It's actually a lyric from a Regina Spektor song (Folding Chair) that goes like this:
I've got a perfect body, though sometimes I forget
Eyelash functionality is probably not what you thought of when you heard perfect body :). We're used to thinking of perfect bodies in terms of largely unattainable goals related to weight, height, facial features, and skin type. Lots of time and money is spent convincing us that we can and should reach for these unattainable goals... that our bodies need to be different than they are in order to be beautiful... that if we could just change our bodies, we would find the love that we long for.
But wow, have you ever noticed how your eyelashes catch your sweat? I never had until I heard this song. Eyelashes are downright amazing. They shield the eye from irritation and infection, alert the eye to close when a foreign object is too close, filter out sunlight, and reduce evaporation of moisture in the eye by diverting air flow. They provide a home for tiny mites that clean follicles and prevent stys. Eyelashes regenerate themselves within two months when they fall out, and they are connected with numerous other systems in the body that keep our bodies healthy and functional. Eyelashes are amazing.
I don't know all of those eyelash facts by heart, and I had to ask for help from my friend Google to find them. When I googled "how eyelashes work," the first page of search results included two sites about how eyelashes work and eight sites telling me how to change my eyelashes. In case you're interested, options include growing them longer (eyelid massage anyone?), adding extensions (for up to $500), dying them (with a possible side-effect of blindness), or perming them. (Perming eyelashes?!)
This is the world we live in. There is nothing about our bodies that is safe from critique and suggestion -- we are bombarded with tips about how to change so that we can be more beautiful and lovable. Sadly, there are not a lot of articles out there that recommend admiring your body as it is because it's already beautiful and amazing. There are not a lot of photo shoots highlighting the miraculous functionality of your body, but plenty offering up aspirational images of what your body "should" look like to be worth having around.
So let me be one voice proclaiming the truth about this temple that God created for His Spirit to dwell in (1 Cor. 6:19). YOUR BODY IS AMAZING. Your body is perfect. Just as it is. For a taste of what this glorious reality feels like, I recommend some mindfulness practice. Do a body scan meditation that gets you in touch with the sensations of your body, one area at a time -- noticing "what sensations are present for you in the toes, on the bottom of the foot, inside of the foot..." Do a sitting practice that allows you to observe the amazing phenomenon of your body breathing itself, moment by moment, without any instruction whatsoever from your conscious brain. Do a lovingkindness practice in which you train your mind to turn toward yourself (body and all) and others with kindness and compassion. Get curious, be open, embrace your body as it is in each moment. The eyelash is not the only amazing feature that your body has -- who knows what else you might discover with a little mindfulness practice? And when you discover that amazing thing, don't forget to be open to any simple appreciation that might arise in that moment for the amazing body that God has given you.
I am Irene Kraegel. I work as a clinical psychologist and teach mindfulness on a faith-based university campus. I practice mindfulness because it opens me up to God (a.k.a. brings joy). I am writing here in hopes of sharing some of my experiences and thoughts related to the practice of mindfulness in the life of a Christian. Thanks for reading!
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