My Workshop on the Huffington Post!

I woke up today and, against my best judgment, grabbed my phone.

Usually, it’s not such a great idea because it’s much better to start my day with some intentionality. With some ritual that centers me, aligns me, connects me to myself and my desires for the day.

But, today was different.

It’s not every day that you wake up to your Self-Appreciation workshop being mentioned in the Huffington Post!

 

When asked about her favorite activity, Lee answered the Self-Appreciation Workshop.

“It was beautiful to see people appreciate certain aspects of their body and then we all went around and commented on each person to let them know what we saw and liked about their body. In a world where we are constantly held to impossible beauty standards and photoshopping and have this culture of body shame, it was a beautiful thing to see women and men only speak lovingly and highly of bodies.”

Perhaps most important, adults felt free and safe to express their emotions without fear of guilt or judgment. “There were a great percentage of men at camp and it was beautiful to witness so many men showing their vulnerability,” Lee added.

 

I taught this particular workshop a couple of weeks ago at Connection Camp, a sleepaway camp for adults that is all about boosting your connection with yourself, with others, with nature, and with your body.

While there were many different workshops, some were a bit more on the fun side and some more on the transformational side.

Mine fell firmly into this last category, as it centered around focused appreciation exercises that eventually led to each person courageously stepping up to share what they appreciate about their body, and then receiving what each person in the group appreciated about their body as well.

Pretty simple, eh?

Yes, but so very powerful!

[I often find the most powerful practices are actually the ones without much hullabaloo].

We are so used to and conditioned to think of and share with others about the parts of our bodies we don’t like, the parts we are so critical about. To speak out loud the parts you do like is a revolutionary act, and actually quite vulnerable.

At some point, the desire to hide comes up, the thought that everyone will think you’re full of yourself or the fear that they won’t like you because of one reason or another.

It’s a very visceral experience.

But then the magic happens when the group gets to share what they appreciate in your body.

It’s not about ‘I love your butt!’

There’s so much more than that. There’s a developing about appreciation for subtler dips, valleys, swells, textures, colors, angularity or curves.

I’m so grateful to everyone that showed up so fully and powerfully for the workshop. It was a pleasure, an honor and a joy to witness each of the participants shine brighter and brighter as they got acknowledged for their already ever-present radiance and inner/outer beauty.

Thanks to Jen Lee for your wonderful words. I’m so happy the workshop had such a positive impact!

Thanks to Taylor Butch for writing the article.

And thanks to Amy Silverman and Jen JJ Kovacevich for putting together such an amazing experience at Connection Camp.

Yay for self-love and connection!

 

 


If you feel you could use a healthier connection to your body, check out my offerings or one of my live weekly classes in NYC (find them in the ‘Upcoming Events’ section of the sidebar).

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On Being Selfish

  

  

For the artist, the best work comes through unfiltered expression. Trying to compromise to be liked, to entertain, to make bank, will always result in diluted work and also dissatisfaction.
It’s rare to find instances where selfishness is named as something good, but in this instance, selfishness is actually what benefits both the artist and the audience.

In our lives, it often happens also, that we compromise and shortchange ourselves to please others. Out of fear of looking bad, losing friends, losing respect, not being liked.

But what if we were convinced of our worth and value, so much so that we weren’t stopped by the thought of how it will be received? What if our confidence and comfort with our full range of emotions (including loneliness) was so unshakeable that we didn’t feel the need to shrink to please others or fit in? What if we put ourselves first, fill ourselves up, so that we can be of service to others?

I bet that courage and self-expression would be a huge inspiration, and a huge contribution to everyone around us.

Sometimes what feels selfish can be the thing that’s necessary, the thing that makes way for whatever is wanting to be given through us (sometimes without our knowing), to come through.

So the question is… Who are we NOT to be selfish

 People might be missing out on gifts because we are so fucking busy trying to be liked.

The Most Perfect Valentine’s Day Gift is NOT Self-Love

Hi Lovers!

It’s been a rollercoaster ride the last couple years, but I had a pretty huge epiphany recently that the reason I haven’t been s clear and powerful as I had in the past (or that’s how I see it anyway) is that I haven’t been being honest with myself.

I’ve been scared of my own self-judgment, and that has made me so sensitive and reactive to that of others. Even when it’s not judgment but loving constructive criticism, I haven’t been able to receive it because it requires me to look at the stuff that I don’t want to see.

All the stuff I’m not liking about myself.

All the stuff that’s lurking underneath, which I cannot see.

The stuff I’m ashamed of, but I don’t know it yet.

Whenever someone tries to help me and support me in my pursuit of happiness, I feel really stressed out and vulnerable and I want to push them away.

I get defensive because, to me, it’s as if they were saying “Hey! Look at this! Look at all the stuff that’s wrong with you that you’re trying really hard not to see!’

Ugh. And I really don’t want to see it… But I can’t keep going like this because I’m hurting myself by doing so. I’m shooting myself in the foot.

So, I’ve arrived at this place again, where I get to practice looking inwards paired with not making myself wrong in the deepest of ways.

As I say, just cuz I don’t like it, it doesn’t mean I cannot love it.

This means that self-love alone is not enough.

As powerful as positive affirmations can be, we’re not really loving ourselves if we’re glossing over the things we have a hard time looking at with an ‘I love myself.

No matter how sincere it is and how much we want to believe it, if the shame or criticism is deep enough, saying that will only trigger thoughts of how that’s not true.

No.

Really loving ourselves takes the courage to look at all our shit, and once we’re clear on what it is we are NOT loving, only then can we start developing our compassion for ourselves.

Start to soften our harshness and self-judgment and drop the self-criticism, even while we don’t make ourselves wrong for criticizing ourselves.

And only after THAT, can we begin to have the conversations we need to have with these parts of ourselves. Practice some deep listening to see what they are scared of, what it is that they serve.

There’s always some way in which these little voices of criticism are trying to protect us, or serve a deep need.

And by knowing what that need is, we can come up with a healthier way to fulfill it that doesn’t get in the way of our living a life that we really love.

Developing that business.
Meeting that life partner.
Creating our masterpiece.
Having deeply satisfying friendships.
Putting ourselves out in the world.

On this Valentine’s Day, make sure you practice some REAL self-love by making some time to get honest with yourself.

truth_or_consequences

So let’s be honest… What’s the thing you’re not wanting to look at? What’s the reason you don’t want to see it?

In the upcoming posts, I’ll be looking at all the ways we keep ourselves from being true to ourselves and why. And as I go through the process of untangling myself, I will also share what I’m doing to develop the courage to stop running away and look within.

Stay tuned.

Putting the Slow First

As I lay in the sauna with nothing to do except breathe and sweat, I heard it.

It sounded like a whisper at first, but as I noticed it became loud and clear:

You haven’t been paying attention  to me.

That’s what my body was saying.

I was quite surprised. I had been feeling out of alignment and was doing everything I knew to get back into it: eating healthy, exercising, even self-care practices like the sauna…

But it was rote.

I had been going through the motions of what I thought would get me back in touch, the things that had worked in the past.

But I wasn’t really listening.

There was always a barrage of things going through my mind at the same time I did all these things. All the things that I should be doing, that needed to get done.

All the while, my body had been screaming that I needed to slow down but I kept not paying attention because… well, shit needed to get done, bills paid, and slowing down was not an option.

I’d been operating from an ‘I know better’ capacity from my mind, totally immersed on trying to control my experience instead of listening to the wisdom within.

Even I, professing about the wisdom in the body and listening to it, even I fell into this hamster wheel of how things ‘should be’ so I can get the things I want.

I laugh because… Oh, the irony!

I used to teach that slowing down needed to come first and these were the exact things my clients used to tell me.

And I would say that slowing down is how we reconnect and recharge and get clear so all that action is focused instead of all over the place.

Slowing down makes our minds clearer and gets us in touch with another source of intelligence, our bodies. We get more creative and make better decisions which are more fulfilling; we feel more at peace and focused action comes from a place of inspiration instead of from anxiety, stress, and seeking approval.

And it’s still true, but I had forgotten.

Slow and steady wins the race

Slow and steady wins the race

I hadn’t been trusting that wisdom in my body, but when somehow I heard that faint whisper in the sauna… tears started streaming down my cheeks because I remembered.

Re-membered.

It’s not worth it to get the things you want, but not be able to enjoy them because your thoughts are telling you something is not perfect or to get on to the next thing that just appeared in your list.

There’s no enjoyment in that, and life will always feel like a never-ending list of tasks if lived that way.

I’m not bashing the mind; it’s an incredible tool. But it needs to be applied where appropriate and not where it’s not.

And I’ve not been doing a good job of distinguishing that.

Sometimes we need to buckle down and just get shit done even if it’s not what we feel like doing, but that’s not where the difference lies.

The difference is in whether we’re taking action out of creativity or out of trying to compensate for a perceived lack.

The first one will feel great even if we don’t feel like doing the proverbial ass-in-chair method, the second one will always feel draining in the end because we’re chasing the dragon of approval, ours or someone else’s.

Practicing slowing down and putting everything that needs to ‘get done’ aside is an excellent way to fill ourselves up with that approval and self-acceptance that we don’t need to be anything other than what we are right now, so that our actions can come from a place of offering instead of taking.

And so what if progress is slower? It’s still progress and it will feel a hell of a lot better throughout the journey and when we get ‘there’.

It’s time to put the slow first.

Will you join me?


LovelinessFor more of my personal experiences navigating the full-on intensity of what it takes to have an exciting, scrumptious life that makes you want to lick your fingers, subscribe to my blog.
And if you’re ready to take the plunge, step out of your box, and commit to living your best life ever, go ahead: email me to melody@nakedwellness.com to set up your complimentary connection session. I might poke… but only out of love.

I would love to know what comes up for you when you’re asked to slow down.

For me, the fear is that I won’t get the things I want and I’ll have wasted my life doing nothing. Yet I’ve tried it both ways and seen that it’s not worth it when I get what I want but cannot appreciate it.

There is a precious integration that happens when we can get our ass-in-chair out of inspiration and commitment instead of a perceived sense that we lack something to be lovable or successful.

Your turn to share!

The fucking number on the scale (and how I stop myself from letting it rule my life)

161.

One-hundred-and-fucking-sixty-one.

That’s how much I weigh right now.

I had just stepped off the elliptical, where I was having a grand time enjoying myself as I danced/worked out to Sade and Sir-Mix-a-Lot, and then had the great idea of weighing myself.

throwing-away-the-weighing-scales-500

I knew I had gained some weight in the last couple of months due to some changes in my lifestyle, but I still felt sexy and attractive.

And seeing that number on the scale, even for me dear Lovers, was threatening to take all that goodness down.

I’m writing this post because you’ve often seen me write praise about my body parts and how much I love my body, but I don’t want to leave you with the impression that it’s always been like that.

I want to be very clear: I still have my insecurities. I am still at risk of being affected by this number.

I am not just blessed with natural confidence about my body image despite not matching the well-marketed version of beauty. I worked (and work) hard to earn it.

In moments like this, when my relationship to a number threatens my sense of self-esteem, I remind myself that just 5 seconds earlier I was enjoying the hell out of my body, feeling alive and sexy and having fun.

And my body weighed the same.

Why should a silly number make that difference?

And I simply don’t let it.

Instead, I think of how grateful I am for my body and how I was deriving so much pleasure from it seconds before. That is still possible; still available to me.

I consciously decouple my ability to enjoy life from how much I weigh, because they have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

It’s just how I relate to that number that threatens my pleasure and joy, not the number itself.

So I get compassionate about it.

I hear myself being upset about it and don’t make myself wrong for it.

I listen to the fears and insecurities of what that part of myself thinks it means that I gained this weight. That I’m less worthy in some way. Less lovable. Less successful.

And while I listen, I also don’t believe it.

Because none of those are true.

I credit my ability to both be self-compassionate with myself and not make myself wrong for having these insecurities while also keeping myself clear with the reality that they are unfounded for my body confidence.

No, it’s not that I don’t have insecurities. They still crop up now and again.

But I don’t let them rule me and I keep my attention on what’s really true.

Soon enough, by virtue of not giving them credibility, the insecurities pass… and as my attention goes back to what’s real and pleasurable in the moment, I remember how much I love this body.

And myself.

Jump in!
Did you find this useful? What’s it like for you when you see that number on the scale?
LovelinessFor more of my personal experiences navigating the full-on intensity of what it takes to have an exciting, scrumptious life that makes you want to lick your fingers, subscribe to my blog.
And if you’re ready to take the plunge, step out of your box, and commit to living your best life ever, go ahead: email me to melody@nakedwellness.com to set up your complimentary connection session. I might poke… but only out of love. 😉

NU Project | Baring It All

Hello, happy shiny people!

It’s been a while since I’ve written here. How have you been?

On my side, it’s been pretty hectic.

Between finalizing details for the upcoming retreat in Belize, and launching Velvet Butter, a new body care product line that focuses on self-appreciation… I haven’t had much time to write anything else.

However, I’ve been very fortunate to have been photographed by Matt Blum for the NU Project.

I’m super excited about it because it’s so aligned with Naked Wellness’ message of knowing how beautiful we are, no matter what we look like. And how when we drop pretenses (and the masks we wear, be it hiding how we really feel or plastering on cake-layers of make up, and using contraptions to hide what our body really looks like), our inner radiance shows up like a delicious explosion.

If you don’t believe me, head on over to their website and take a look at their galleries. These women are every shape, size and color and they are all stunning.

Why? Because they’re being open and vulnerable and REAL.

And, let me tell you, the photoshoot with Matt was sooooo much fun!

And yes, it definitely left me a little jittery from the adrenaline of feeling vulnerable afterwards. Let alone when the pictures went online!

The urge to pick my body apart was battling the powerful display of my beauty, and radiance and sheer freedom in those pictures.

So what if my cellulite shows, or my thighs look large when I’m sitting??

It’s all gorgeous!

Whew! What a rush!

That is the kind of juicy vulnerability that comes up when we are leaning on our edge.

When we are stepping out of our comfort zone to live a life that’s bigger than we’ve led so far.

And that’s why I said yes.

While my offerings focus around self-love and embracing every bit of ourselves (physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual), having nude pictures of myself online for everyone else to see add a whole other layer of nakedness, vulnerability and uncertainty.

What will people think? Would it be pushing the limits for my clients? What if a guy I’m dating googles me and finds these? What will the people at my synagogue think? And my parents???

I have no way of knowing what the consequences will be. Maybe it changes how people see me. Maybe in a good way… Maybe in a judgmental way.

Probably both.

Some people will admire me for it, and hopefully be inspired to get out of their comfort zone in some way. Others will judge me and think I’m exposing myself unnecessarily.

And my practice, as with any time we are revealing something we don’t usually let others see, is to be ok with that and stand strong in my principles and my view of myself.

Plus, asides from being a practice in walking my talk for myself, I hope my posing for the NU Project inspires other women (and people in general) to see the beauty in everyone exactly as they are.

Hiding nothing.

Naked.

In an effort to push the edge a bit further for myself (and teach by example), here I am, announcing it to all. (Ay!)

In addition, Naked Wellness is collaborating with the NU Project on their blog, where they’ve republished my Love Letter to My Body to share it with thousands of women who could benefit from writing a letter like this to their own beautiful vessel.

Go ahead, write your own!

For bonus points, you can leave an appreciation note for your own body in the comments. You have no idea how sharing your experience inspires others!

[Needless to say, I feel pretty vulnerable about posting this. Please be gentle when commenting.

More than anything, I want to know about your relationship with yourself and your body, what you think of Velvet Butter and/or the NU Project, or your reactions to the letter. Thanks!]

Tantra

I’ve decided I’m going to stop skirting around it and say it.

 

Tantra.

 

Yes, that’s a big part of what I teach.

 

I didn’t want to say the word because a lot of people have misconceptions about what Tantra actually is, but I’m tired of talking around the word.

 

All this talk about turning you on, making you horny…. Well, it comes from an understanding that we can harness our sexual energy, the energy that drives life, and utilize it for a purpose other than just stress relief (i.e. orgasmus vulgaricus…. Just made that one up).

 

Isn’t Tantra about just having really great, “spiritual” sex?

 

No. Yes. Sort of, but not exactly.

 

Tantra is about acceptance of the whole.

 

There’s not one iota of you that isn’t perfect in its imperfection, and Tantra aims at having a continuous experience of the knowledge of this.

 

Of full self-acceptance. Self-love that allows us to love others more fully as well.

 

It also aims at our two most important drives, namely, the drive towards life (sex) and the drive away from death.

 

We want to transcend both, in order to not feel like we’re either running towards or running away from something all the time.

 

This way, we can live in our center. We can be steadier in any situation.

 

So, on that side of the equation, Tantra isn’t so much concerned with sex itself as it is about sexual energy, how to increase it and what to do with it. How we can use it to improve our lives,…

 

And feel more whole.

 

Oof…. That was liberating!

The Pressure to Act Positive

Do we always want to be positive?

 

Probably.

 

There’s something to be said for keeping our hopes up and our hearts lifted and open.

 

But sometimes, despite our knowingness and trust that things will be perfectly great and as they should be, we just don’t feel like acting that way.

 

Some areas of our being haven’t caught up with that part of us that is still open.

 

Is it so wrong to allow ourselves to act the way we feel, instead of the way we feel we should act knowing that things will turn out exactly the way we need them to?

 

Is indulging in these feelings, gulp… wallowing?

 

Lately, I’ve been feeling this pressure to behave according to what I know in my heart will be (and already is) true in the future, as opposed to being authentic to what I feel in the moment.

 

The conundrum comes because both are true and authentic for me: I’m at once positive and allowing myself to feel everything that is coming up.

 

So how should I act around others?

 

Should I stick to the positiveness?

 

While this feels true, it also feels like a bit of a rejection towards my feelings of things not feeling so great at the moment.

 

Plus, in my experience this has always led to some sort of breakdown where I all of a sudden share what’s going on inside me and people are taken aback because they had no idea.

 

Perhaps because of the communities which I inhabit, I feel the extra pressure to stay upbeat and always look at the silver lining.

 

But this sometimes feels fake, and I just simply don’t feel like going there.

 

In fact, it feels like violence towards myself and I get mad at the people who are asking me to take that positive journey with them, because it feels like they are ignoring a part of myself.

 

I suppose some people would say…

 

“Oh.. That’s just your ego.”

 

While that might be true, guess what?

 

Whenever I ignore these feelings and don’t share them, I feel this huge lump in my throat which signals my fear of speaking up.

 

My body feels suffocated, and shrunk, and claustrophobic and it’s hard to breathe.

 

And I’m done with that because, while it’s not healthy to wallow, it’s also not healthy to keep things bottled up.

 

And it’s not healthy to always be on either, especially when we don’t feel on. We need downtime, and time to allow ourselves to feel the full range of our beautiful human emotions.

 

Plus, you’ll end up with some very confused friends.

 

So I’m experimenting and exploring the gray areas.

 

How do I achieve balance so that I am

 

1) expressing myself authentically

2) honoring myself and my feelings by acting in alignment with where I am at in the moment

3) making my whole self visible to others to give them a chance to appreciate my whole self and not just the part of me that always wears a smile on my face

4) respecting the people around me and their needs

 

without

 

1) slipping into the downward spiral of identifying with my uncomfortable feelings

2) creating a situation in which someone is compelled to give me an unsolicited pep talk

3) making my friends feel like running away because they are not used to me not being always on

 

So far, what I’ve come up with is to allow myself to feel whatever I’m feeling without running away from the vulnerability and the uncomfortable.

 

But while I’m indulging in my feelings, at the same time I stay connected to the knowingness that these feelings are both legitimate and not true.

 

I can feel them without believing them because I know most of the time they come and go as a result of shifts in perspective about my self-worth.

 

And, when I close my eyes, I can still connect to that part of me that is sure of my worthiness.

 

I can hang out in both places at the same time.

 

What to do about this whole expression thing?

 

This is the trickiest part for me.

 

Like I mentioned, I feel the pressure to act positive.

 

Especially since it feels like my job depends on it a lot of the time.*

 

*I try to stay grounded in the trust that you are smart enough to hire someone who is constantly learning and experimenting with their own stuff. I personally wouldn’t want to work with someone who isn’t in touch with what it feels like to be in the process. Plus, this diary is where I share my process in the hopes to spark some inspiration and hope in whoever  reads it.

 

What I’ve been working on is staying grounded in my truth and speaking from my heart, without wanting to get anything from the other person.

 

It feels good to speak up and stand up for myself, instead of caving under the pressure to hide or dismiss how I really feel.

 

When I share, I make it clear to the person that I don’t expect anything except their active listening.

 

And I definitely add that I’m not seeking advice or new ways to look at things. I just merely seek to share, and I’ve chosen them to share with because I appreciate their presence and support in my life.

 

And you know what?

 

Some people get it, and some people don’t.

 

Some will feel honored and understand, and others will have a hard time not taking things personally.

 

But we cannot worry about that because it’s not our stuff to deal with.

 

Plus, we’re respecting and honoring them when we respect and honor ourselves. By giving them a chance to see us fully we are providing them with more information to base their choices on.

 

This also works because we won’t be creating the expectation that we will always be on. So then people won’t be surprised when we’re not.

 

There is a fear that, when practicing this sort of communication everyone will run away screaming like their head is on fire.

 

Some people will. And we must remind ourselves not to take it personally. Not everyone has to be able to handle us, much less like us.

 

But there are people who will, and those are the ones we want to keep around.

 

What’s your take on this?