Megan and her Inner Voice
[referred to in the script as “Megan”]
The scene: a dimly lit yoga studio, approximately ¾ full. Soft and soothing music is playing. A yoga class is being conducted throughout, albeit in the background. [lights come up]
NARRATOR: So, Megan was in yoga, lying down at the start of her practice, when the instructor began class.
YOGA TEACHER: You have already gotten through the hardest part of class— showing up.
NARRATOR: What she neglected to mention is the (what feels like) 10 minutes she will spend in 3-legged Down Dog at the end of class. That really is worse. Anyway, that isn’t the actual point. What she says next leads to the actual point.
YOGA TEACHER: I would like you to find a mantra to use to guide you in your practice today. Something peaceful. Something supportive. Allow it to arise from your inner knowing.
NARRATOR: And in less than lightning speed, the thought very clearly came into Megan’s mind…
MEGAN: I hate this body.
NARRATOR: “I HATE THIS BODY?” Seriously??? This is what surfaced from her subconscious when asked to think of a supportive mantra?
YOGA TEACHER: Now that you have found your mantra, gently make your way to the top of your mat.
NARRATOR: As she moved to the top of her mat [Mountain Pose] it occurred to her that it may, in fact, be possible that the mantra, “I HATE THIS BODY” was at the top of the list: Mantras Never to be Used in Yoga. To be honest, it likely is in the Top 10 of the list: Mantras to Never Ever Use, EVER!
MEGAN: I can’t believe I just thought that! What is wrong with me??? I haven’t made any progress at all! [move into Forward Fold]
NARRATOR: You may be wondering, at this point, why she is so offended by her own negative thought. Some character background is probably in order. For the past several months, Megan had been working on (and crying and swearing and beating herself up over) 34 years of disordered eating and seriously messed up body image. And on this particular day, at this particular moment, she was actually feeling fairly good about herself and “this” body.
YOGA TEACHER: As you begin to flow, remember that there is no wrong way. Listen to your body. Trust your body.
NARRATOR: So there she was, thinking, “Gee, good-body day!” and the thought that surfaced is, “I HATE THIS BODY.” You can see the problem.
MEGAN: I should be ASHAMED of myself! I have so much and here I am being upset because I’m not SKINNY enough. I am pathetic… [eyes well up with tears]
YOGA TEACHER: Step back to High Plank and remember to always return to your breath.
MEGAN: My breath. I have breath. I have a BODY that WORKS. Why am I so obsessed with being thin?
NARRATOR: So she spiraled into shame at that point. [move to Warrior One] She knew that she was complaining about a body (her body) that is FULLY FUNCTIONAL. She felt ashamed. She can see. She can hear. She can smell and taste. She can walk, dance, yoga, run, whatever she wants (although she doesn’t actually like to run, it’s just an added example). She has no physical limitations. She has no disease. She is generally in good health. But she HATES it (this body). Has HATED it (her body). Why? Because it’s not thin enough. Sad stuff.
YOGA TEACHER: Transition through Up Dog into Down Dog then reach your right leg up and back.
NARRATOR: The inner berating continued. It lasted all the way through the (what felt like) 10 minutes of 3-legged Down Dog.
MEGAN: How many people in the world don’t have a fully functioning, healthy body to work with? How many people people are ill? How many people can’t walk or see or hear? [transition to Warrior Two] How many of those people have gratitude for the body they have? So what’s WRONG with me? How can I be so shallow and ungrateful?
NARRATOR: Shame spirals are no good. They never help. [move to Triangle Pose] Here’s another problem with the mantra, “I HATE THIS BODY.” This body (her body) has kept on GOING and GOING and GOING in a fairly healthy style despite what she has done to it. She has starved it, stuffed it, over-exercised it, belittled it, shamed it, drugged it, and HATED it. All of this in the pursuit of thin. Sad, sad stuff.
MEGAN: Come on, Megan. Don’t do this. It doesn’t matter how thin or not you are. Why do you make it such a big deal? It’s not. No one who cares about you cares about how you look. Stop doing this to yourself!
NARRATOR:As you can see, another problem with the mantra is that it just makes a bad situation worse. She started by feeling bad about how her body looked and ended up feeling even worse about the fact that she felt bad about how her body looked. A healthy dose shame followed by a hefty serving of guilt.
YOGA TEACHER: As we close our practice, let your body guide you to your final pose.
MEGAN: I need to stop hating my body. I don’t want to do this to myself anymore. I want to NOT HATE this body. I want to LOVE this… my body. [move to Final Resting Pose]
NARRATOR: Megan was able to turn her thoughts around, to re-ground. Her months of work on believing she is enough, no matter what size, has paid off in this moment.
YOGA TEACHER: Thank you for your presence here today. The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
MEGAN: YES. Yes. I LOVE that. The light in me. There is light in this body. My body. There is light in me. [eyes well up with tears]
NARRATOR & MEGAN [together]: Namaste.
[The main lights dim. In Shakespearian style, the narrator comes into a spotlight to address the audience.]
NARRATOR: While this was “sad stuff”, the real tragedy of it all is that it isn’t how Megan feels about her BODY. It’s how she feels about herself. She really worries that she isn’t good enough. And that’s the tragedy. That she thinks she’s not good enough. That she thinks her worth is based on her weight, her shape, her size.
It’s not. And everyone who loves her and cares about her will tell her, “Of course it’s not.” But she won’t hear it. She won’t believe it. Because, for reasons bigger and more vast than she ever before realized, she has come to the belief that her weight, her shape, and her size are proof of her soul’s worth. And that, my friends, is truly sad, sad, sad stuff. [all goes dark]
A note from the author: Hey all, it’s Megan. I know. It’s a tad dark. But it is also true— an autobiographical account, if you will. I share it here (with some poetic license) because I know many of you will RELATE. Many of you also have your own version of the Mantra to Never Ever Use, EVER. I’m here to ask you to silence it. Banish it from your beautiful self. There is no room for that kind of negativity in the life I know you (and I) want.
I found a new mantra, by the way. I’m pretty sure it is at the top of the list: Mantras to Always Use, ALWAYS!
You are enough. You are so enough, it is unbelievable how enough you are.