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Shouldn’t we focus more on our soul than our bodies?

Shouldn’t we be celebrating our inner beauty?

Aren’t we more than just our bodies?

Isn’t it more important to be a good person inside than to celebrate our outer body/beauty?

These are questions or comments I get every once in a while on a photo or blog post, that focusing so much on our bodies doesn’t seem right (to them) and shouldn’t we focus more on the amazing spirit inside that body?

The answer I have is Yes. And No.

Yes inner beauty and our spiritual path (as in exploring our relationship to that which is beyond ourselves) are so vital.  Yet I don’t see them as disconnected from the path of learning to love our bodies. 

The journey to finding self-love for me and to being my own beloved has been both an internal and external one. Of befriending myself, filling up my own well, sitting with my loneliness, untangling stories of self-hate.  It has indeed been about finding my own inner beauty. It has about becoming a person who is in tune with kindness as a core value both towards myself and others.

Yet these things are happening within a body. About a body.  To disconnect the self-love journey from my body is to discount a whole deep well of potential healing.

Here is the truth I see around me and with so many folks who have come to join me for Be Your Own Beloved.  They tell me that they’ve been on a self-love path for a long time but had been avoiding with dealing with that remaining piece of self-hate that hand been lurking in the shadows or in the way they saw themselves in photos.  We are looking everywhere else for peace within without thinking of the possibility that external body-love could help us.

Because it’s supposed to be egocentric or vain to want to love our external body, right?

Learning to love your body isn’t vain or egocentric, especially when so many of us are coming from the opposite of ego.

You have the right to choose to love yourself. 

Our internal and external selves are connected and if we love our personality, our drive, our mind, but still hate our bodies, we are living in hate. If we are focusing so much on our inner selves but still have hate towards our outer selves, that is yet another spiritual door awaiting us.

While the process of taking selfies is indeed about how we relate to our body in a photo, the photo is the tool for us to learn to love our bodies in our everyday lives too.  It isn’t just about getting a new Facebook photo (though that is always a plus).  It is about using the camera as a doorway to a more peaceful, compassionate relationship to ourselves and our self-image.

Which includes how we see our bodies from the outside be it a sideways glance in a store window and the reaction we have about seeing ourselves, or how we see our bodies each morning when we look in the mirror. Or, of course, how we see ourselves in a photo. Our relationship to self-image is a place where many of us have the potential to shift our relationship from a place of critique to kindness.

It often feels that using selfies as a tool for healing our body image isn’t as much about the photo we get itself as the journey we go on to get it and the way we choose to relate to the photo itself.  It has felt like a deeply spiritual journey, far more connected to purpose than vanity.  

But to me it is inherently related to our bodies.

To say we aren’t our bodies or we want to focus on our inner beauty leaves our body shame waiting for us, still hanging out waiting to be heard.

So to answer those questions of inner vs external beauty I wonder if we could reframe it:

What if our bodies and that our inner beauty can be strengthened by healing our relationship with our outer beauty.  We have this deep & rich potential place of self-learning that feels deeply spiritual, with our body as our guide.

What if re-learning to love your external body when you have lived in a place of self-critique or dare I say self-hate could be a doorway to deep love, the same kind you might be looking for in meditation or as you create your altars.

What if we do indeed focus on exploring our inner beauty but stay open to seeing it as not disconnected or more important than the potential for compassionate and unconditional love for the body you are in.

I know it’s a scary process for a lot of us to step into.  But what if selfies could be that unexpected tool that brings you to a greater place of peace with our self both internally & externally?

I know this isn’t the standard perception of what ‘selfie’ is but I know when we’ve tried everything else on our path of healing, sometimes we need to seek out tools in unexpected places.  And if you aren’t sure where to begin on that path, you might want to come join me for the November Session of Be Your Own Beloved and I’ll help you take those first steps to heal that rift between your inner relationship to self & your external perceptions of your body.

Nextbyobeloved

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  • Yes! Absolutely! Seeing ourselves with kindness and being our own beloved is a spiritual path – and not an easy one, LOL.

    I went on retreat this summer and gave a presentation about using selfies as a spiritual practice. Of course, you were my inspiration to begin to see self-portraiture this way. The talk was so well-received and I delighted in seeing so many selfies that were taken that week.

    You are doing important work, Vivienne. I am grateful.
    xo,
    SheilaReplyCancel

  • Love this response. So much of my healing and self-love journey began with changing how I saw myself when I looked in the mirror and correcting the negative thoughts with positive ones when seeing a picture of myself.

    It would be impossible to love myself fully without seeing my body as beautiful.ReplyCancel

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Earlier this month I was out in the SF Bay Area (aka one of my favourite places ever).  After doing the Photo Walk in Portland earlier this year, I thought it might be fun to put out an invite to come join me in one of my favourite places in San Francisco, the Mission. It’s so full of gorgeous murals, colour and gorgeous light and I thought it might be fun adventure for Bay Area folks to feel the permission to get touristy in their own city and take selfies!

It was SO awesome to get to meet and reconnect with all the lovely ladies there and I led the group through a few Be Your Own Beloved selfie activities.  It truly made for the perfect end to a really nourishing weekend.

Here are a few snaps of our photo adventuring (and the selfies I ended up taking during the walk)!

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Nextbyobeloved

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movement600

I put the camera down

Press the timer

And I move.

At first I had to invite myself to.  It was a way for me to shake off nervousness and get grounded in my body to take that photo.

These days it happens automatically.  I set the timer & the playfulness begins.

99% of the time when I go out on a photo walk, I don’t have a specific goal in mind. Sure I might have something in mind but truth be told, the photo walk seems to always have its own direction it wants to take me in, always embracing the unpredictable. That 1% of course is when I need a super specific photo for a class!

All of these photos you see on the website are taken as I’m living what I’m teaching here, as I’m trying out activities or just trying to shift my own energy of that day.

In so many of my photos, I’m dancing.

It’s been that way for years and I think from the outside I bet it looks playful, joyful and even like a woman who feels at home in her body.  While it wasn’t at first, it has led me there and I wanted to share a bit about why I dance in photos.

At times I have this voice in my head as I’m just about to press ‘Post’ on Instagram and share another movement photo that says “Is this really accessible for people, all these dancing photos?”  “Do you really want to post another one”.

But here’s the truth.

I don’t take or show them for any purpose of showing off.

I take & share them because this is where the deepest healing of my self-image has happened.

When I move.

Someday I’ll share my full story of the depths of where I began with my negative self-image (its spilling into my manuscript) but a big part of my journey before taking self-portraits had me feeling like I needed to contain myself.  To sit on my hands.  To stop moving.  To control how I existed in the world.  To be contained & still.

And for whatever reason it may have manifested in our lives, I have a feeling I’m not alone in having felt deeply disconnected from my own body for much of my life.  Is that familiar to you at all?

So when I realized that taking self-portraits was a place where I could relearn how to be in my own body, it was all about the movement.

It is the one sacred place where I’ve found I can reclaim that sense of autonomy of how I move in the world, where I have found a freedom that has allowed me to feel more at home in my body. It may look like fun, and indeed it is.  But it has a deeper purpose for me than one viewing the photo might think.  That can be such a powerful piece of taking selfies, the place where they can embody powerful stories of healing for us, even if the viewer sees something different.

Interestingly enough, photographs only capture that one second of the movement and package it into stillness again in a way, but somehow it doesn’t diminish the freedom that I felt in the moment. Because the experience of the freedom & healing that happens is in the lived experience of it, not just the outcome.  The photographs are an invitation to return back there.

To keep moving.

To revisit that place of healing we can create when we make space to move our own way.

So this….this is why I dance.

Have you explored moving as you take a selfie just for fun or even as a tool for healing disconnection from our bodies?

Nextbyobeloved

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beginnings600

From now until Friday if you sign up for Beloved Beginnings (which is already super affordable self-paced class) you can bring a friend for FREE! Yes…its a 2 for 1 sale.

Maybe there is someone you’d like to encourage to a Be Your Own Beloved class by doing it together?

Or you’d like to take it with someone in your family?

Or would like to gift the spot to a friend?

OR get an even better deal by splitting the cost!

I also wanted to do this offer right now in case you were pondering doing the November Session of Be Your Own Beloved but might be feeling a bit nervous to jump in and go for it!  This is a gentle 10 day version of the class that can be a great warm up for the November class and a way to ease yourself into seeing yourself with kindness through your camera.

Just let me know the email address of the person you’d like to join you when you sign up! Class starts right after I receive your registration.

The offer ends Friday and you can register here!

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Be Your Own Beloved (3)

I’m in the Bay Area this weekend and I wanted to invite you to join me for a Be Your Own Beloved Photo Walk!  We’ll be gathering at one of my favorite spots, Clarion Alley!  If you haven’t been there before, it is this amazing mural filled alley right near the 16th St. Mission BART Station, filled from end to end with vibrant, colorful art.

We’ll start in the Alley and then head over to some other incredible nearby!

While it isn’t a full workshop, it is a guided photo walk and I’ll be leading you  in a few Be Your Own Beloved activities as we explore taking selfies and seeing ourselves with kindness through our own camera!

I’m especially excited to gather together community & connect on a gorgeous October day.

Details:

We’ll meet at 2pm on the Valencia end of Clarion Alley between 17th & 18th.

What to Bring:

All you need is your lovely self and a camera!

A timer is also recommended.  If you are using an iPhone, I recommend getting the free Gorillacam App!

Register for the Photo Walk:

Grab a ticket to come join us!

SelfiePhotoshoot500If you’re not in the Bay Area, but would like that same kind of experience online…my new class How to Rock a Selfie Photo Shoot starts on Monday and in this class I’ll be bringing you all sorts of activities for capturing self-portraits that help you shine in your life, your blog or your business!

Class does start Monday but as soon as you register I also send out a pre-class activity for you to experiment with this weekend!

Register here!

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