Washing My Dead Body
When I die I want someone who loves me to wash my dead body. I don’t know much about it, but I know this is a tradition of some religions. Ok, I don’t really care if someone washes my dead body or not because I’ll be dead (I know my Mom is loving this article already). But I feel like this ritual would be a beautiful act of love and healing for those who are left behind. Instead we cake our dead bodies with makeup and our best outfits and allow people to come look at us. Such a sign of our culture, right? Instead of being faced with the reality of death, we try to make the dead look like they’re about to go to a dinner party. But I digress.
My body is the beautiful home my soul resides in. So is yours. We deny its sacredness and treat it mechanically. I think much of this relationship to the body is a result of a culture that teaches us we need x servings of grains and x servings of fruit to live a balanced and healthy life. This is a flawed topic in and of itself. But again, I digress. I remember thinking at a young age that I could eat anything and survive. Nourishment wasn’t a part of my cousciousness. And so on top of a lack of understanding how to truly nourish our bodies we’re also taught to measure our bodies against the select few the media has chosen to call beautiful after they’ve photoshopped them into unnatural forms.
So yes, we’re all critical of our bodies in some way or another. When we look in the mirror we’re constantly evaluating ourselves. Do I approve of my appearance? We find small red bumps and quickly cover them with foundation to hide the truth that our body is communicating with us. We’re incapable of recognizing our cells transformations in each moment, but we suddenly notice a line that we don’t remember from before. Our hearts might sink in recognition that we are indeed aging. But isn’t it interesting that we feel despair rather than joy?
I, for one, do not hope to go backward. Aging comes with so many benefits, but we focus on the side effect: the deterioration of our bodies. And it consumes us, and it becomes a part of the way we judge ourselves. And this is not just about aging, it’s about accepting. It’s the, “I need to lose 10 pounds.” Because what you’re really saying is, “I’m not good enough.” And you believe it. Because once you’ve lost those 10 pounds you’re going to say, “I need to lose 5 pounds.” or “Ugh, I have dark circles under my eyes.”
So back to washing my dead body. We’ve all heard, “My body is my temple.” Our bodies are sacred, and so we wash our bodies to keep them sacred, clean, honored, pure. We do this on a daily basis, only our cleansing rituals have become habitual and unconscious. We furiously scrub our scalps with fruity chemicals and let our minds wonder off to tend to our to-do lists.
I have gotten into the habit of blessing my body while I shower. I hug myself and appreciate every inch of the body I am cleansing. I feel gratitude for the health of my body. If I notice blemishes on my skin I thank my body for telling me it’s off balance. I know I am aging, and I give thanks for the privelage to be able to do so. This is the body I was born with. It’s the one I will have until it perishes. I choose to love and accept it for exactly what it is in this moment.
So the next time you notice yourself being critical of your body choose to stop and thank your body instead. Did your body wake up this morning? Thank you. Your body is a living vessle. It’s not here for you to contort and abuse. It’s here to serve you, and just like anyone who is of service, your body deserves to be loved and respected.