Feeling at home in your own skin

Written by Lou Coles

Our home is meant to be our sanctuary. A good home is a place that we can relax and feel safe and comfortable to be our self. When we have a stable place that we can recess from the world and recharge we also have strong foundation from which we can confidently step out into the world.

Some would consider that our most primary home is this body that we inhabit. It provides the structure and engineering that accommodates us and allows us to move around and produce actions. This body even has all of the intricate systems that consume, digest and metabolise energy and sense and perceive the world around us. It even has the ability to interact with our environment and other people that are also existing within, and doing their best to operate, their own similar, but
infinitely unique and varied, bodies.

I quite like the concept that our body is our first home. The phrase ‘feeling at home in your own skin’ alludes to that peace and comfort that can be found when one feels content and confident in their own body and I like to think that if you are at home in your own body then you will be able to feel at home no matter where you go in the world.

There are many ways that we can relate to our bodies and our homes in similar ways. We can treat them with love and care and tend to their maintenance and longevity, or we can be less careful about doing things that will cause damage and not really pay attention to the wear and tear that happens over time and quite often as things stop working we put up with it or find a work-around, instead of fixing the actual problem.

Similarly, how we feel about our home will affect how we treat it and how we make decisions about its use and care. When we are proud of it and value everything that it provides us with we tend to take better care of it and tend to its needs as they come up; on the other hand, if we don’t like our home and take for granted the value and function that it provides we are less likely to take good care of it.

One tried and true method for improving our relationship with our body is the mindfulness practice of the body scan. This simple practice provides an opportunity to tune-in and pay attention to every part of our body. When we get into a comfortable position and rest our attention on each part of our body, starting at our toes and working bit by bit up to our head, we can observe any sensations we feel on the inner or outer parts of the body. If there is any tightness, pain or pressure we can
breathe into that area and imagine breathing out any discomfort, stress or emotion being held in that part of the body on the out breath. This practice is known for deepening self-awareness and inner peace.

If you wanted to take the body scan practice one step further you could even imagine breathing a feeling or intention into that part of the body that it might need you could breathe in love, acceptance, kindness, ease, grace or support – the possibilities here are endless and the art comes from tuning in and listening to your body’s needs. This is something that you will get better and better at the more you do.