The truth about your body

Weight

One day I received a message that could only have come from God.

The question I’d asked on that particular day was: How can I prevent myself from getting cancer?

A month earlier I’d had an ultrasound which turned up something the radiologist felt was suspicious: ”a conspicuous lobule not previously visualized.” I then had to have an MRI with gadolinium, a radioactive dye,  which couldn’t be scheduled for over two weeks. It was a stressful waiting period. My friends were very supportive. Nonetheless, I was afraid. I wrote a prayer for myself, and every day I prayed to Jesus and to Archangel Raphael requesting that this thing inside me be removed by Spirit, be simply “pulled out” of my body and dematerialized.

A few days before the MRI, a red, scaly patch the size of a dime appeared on my skin right about where the conspicuousness was located by the ultrasound. I called the dermatologist for an appointment the following week, thinking it was an odd coincidence.

The MRI was terrifying to me. It shouldn’t have been, but it was. The nurse gave me a valium, which my fiance later admitted made me “way less Type A and more fun to be around.” I lay in the machine as it clanged away, face down, following instructions not to breathe, not to move at all. I kept thinking about the radioactive dye, which freaked me out. I started hyperventilating, and then the speaker in the machine would loudly announce that I was moving and needed to be still. But I could not calm down. The radiologist gave up and sent me home, saying he’d have to work with the images he’d been able to get.

My doctor called me when the report was returned. It said: “There is no suspicious enhancement. Specifically, no abnormality is visualized to correlate with the prior finding on ultrasound.”

Did I ever give thanks!! But the story doesn’t end there.

I went to the dermatologist. She decided she should biopsy the red scaly patch.  And, unexpectedly, it turned out to be precancerous.

A coincidence? Maybe, to some. But I’d actually call it testimony. I spent 2-3 weeks praying for God to “pull it out of my body,” visualizing this thing moving out of me and dissipating, and I ended up with a superficial skin problem where there may have been a deeper tissue problem. To me, it hinted at a miracle.

So this is how I ended up having a conversation out loud one day, asking God, the One, the Absolute Good, for guidance on what to do to prevent cancer in the future. I was expecting some kind of dietary suggestion, I suppose, or maybe an admonishment to vacation more. 

The answer that came was not at all what I expected. I heard:

Picture yourself as Flawless.”

I can say with certainty that in my entire life, I’ve never used that particular “F” word to describe anything about my body.

I’d never seen my physical self as anything but a work in progress, with a list of things to fix, improve, or hide. And I was surprised by the calm clarity of this simple message, which I contemplated for a while: What did it mean? What could I picture as Flawless when I was so physically imperfect?  Or was my thinking about my body as a problem the problem within itself?

Upon examination, I could see that my day-to-day behavior revealed an underlying fear-based belief about my health: “something is wrong, all is not right with me, I need to fix my body.” And this internal “story” went hand in hand with another narrative that had been playing in my head for decades: the one that critiqued and rejected my body’s appearance, that verbally flogged me day in and day out for every aspect of my physical self which looked “wrong” to me: “This is bad, misshapen, I’m too big here and too small there, I need to fix my body.” 

Almost 30 years ago a very beautiful friend of mine listened to my story. She suggested I try self-acceptance. I will never forget her hurt and disappointment at my derision.  I could never love myself as I am, I told her; I’ll use these hateful feelings to punish myself until I improve. At the time, self-acceptance seemed the easy way out, the self-help equivalent to lazing around on the couch eating cake instead of going for that extra run. I surely owe her an apology. I owe it to myself as well.

So let’s hear it for unexpected wake-up calls, in any form, which cause us to re-evaluate how we allow our thoughts about our bodies to undermine everything we think we’re accomplishing with our healthy choices and our diets. Our thoughts about our bodies are much more powerful. They’re generated within the body, and there’s no way the body can’t hear them. The mind is the body’s ultimate Influencer. Negative thoughts will break us down and create dis-ease. But thinking the best possible thoughts about our bodies can help us…with everything from weight management to miracles of self-healing. 

A few years ago, a beloved spiritual mentor, Gerard Thomas of Stillpoint Retreats,  introduced me to this poem:

Christ has no body but yours.

No hands, no feet on earth but yours.

Yours are the eyes with which He looks

Compassion on His world,

Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,

Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.

Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,

Yours are the eyes, you are His body.

Christ has no body but yours.

— St. Teresa of Ávila 

What would happen in our lives if we thought of our bodies this way? How well would we care for ourselves, and for those around us? What incredible things would we choose to do if we believed we were capable of anything?

Picture yourself as Flawless. It could change your life.  And whether or not you’ve ever known it, it’s the truth about your body. 

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photography by Kelly Heck Photography 

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