I was sitting across the table from one of my spiritual mentors, she was seventy at the time. Petit, attractive, and on her second shot glass of sake.
She said, “No one told me about what it is like getting older. So I’m going to tell you.” She continued, “I felt my most powerful and most sexy from the ages of 47 to 59. I could have sex when I wanted and I didn’t have to worry about becoming pregnant. Then I turned 60, and decided that it was time for me to grow up and start giving back. You’re young yet. You’ll see.”
“Well,” I thought, “That’s something to look forward too.”
Post-modern culture has stolen our sense of easement and feeling good, comfortable, and sexually potent in our bodies at any age.
You know the drill, daily we are bombarded with images of how we should look, feel, and act. The “plus-size” model on the cover of the 2016 Sports Illustrated is both praised and reviled.
Unfortunately, both voices are two sides of the same body-dysmorphic coin. We are always being sold on an idea of sexy that is so far out of reach, that most of us are disconnected from the simple joy of being embodied.
Modern Dysfunction. Can You Relate?
Years ago a woman came to visit me who at the age of sixty would carry around a picture of herself at thirty.
Her body was round and soft with age and inactivity. During our visit, she took the picture out of her wallet and showed it to me with tears in her eyes.
She was completely tormented by the fact that she didn’t look like the woman in the picture, the woman she used to be.
She didn’t eat well, sleep well, or exercise, all things we know would help. But even if she did do all of those things, they wouldn’t have had a long lasting effect in her current state of mind. The problem was that her conscious and unconscious minds were deeply conflicted.
Her self-loathing for her aging body was in my opinion, “pathological” but not unusual. I had similar issues once-upon-a-time. In fact, many of us lament the good ol’ days when we were 14, 24, or even 34 when we looked our best. Everything since then is downhill.
I bring this up because sexiness is a powerful state to be in, and most of us are denying ourselves of the benefits of it. You can, and should feel sexy for as long as you desire it. Studies show that 21 percent of women 70 or older are still having sex regularly. That too is something to look forward too.
I’ll define sexy as feeling comfortable in your own skin. The feeling of just feeling good, energized, balanced, and vibrant. It’s a sense of sensual enjoyment. Enjoying the warmth of the sun as it caresses your skin, the feeling of a cold glass of water as it slips down the back of your throat, cooling you off from the inside, looking so deeply into a dear friend’s eyes that you feel “touched” by him or her, and of course, the feel of your lover’s lips pressed against yours and the smell of his or her skin. That’s all sexy.
For decades I did not feel comfortable in my skin. I felt heavy and awkward. I was filled with a secret self-loathing because my body didn’t conform to the lithe ideal.
In my early twenties I would binge and purge. I’d go through bouts of heavy exercise, hit my goal weight, then stop only to put back on the 20 pounds or I’d lost.
When I was in my early thirties, I started studying Dr. Andrew Weil’s work, read organic news, started shopping the farmer’s market, and got heavy into yoga. And yes, it helped. But like most women and men, I was still driven by a powerful unconscious drive to beat my body into a submission. Didn’t matter if it was through organic foods or not.
Spiritual Practice Heals
Meditation, prayer, taking long quiet walks, whatever comprises your spiritual and personal practice changes your spiritual, mental, and emotional chemistry bit by bit. Sure, you will have the big OMG moments, but mostly the changes are subtle and happen quietly over time.
I’ve been meditating and teaching spiritual principles for years and I still was at odds with my body until one day…
I was walking through Barnes and Noble and I saw a diet book on the display table. At the time I was crazy about buying new diet and exercise books. This one was from an exercise guru that I would sometimes watch on T.V.
The title was something like, “This is Why You’re Fat.” The title struck me as offensive. It occurred to me right then and there that the hyper focus on the diet was keeping me from feeling good and fit, and I decided to never buy a diet book again. I didn’t want to participate in the negative consciousness that there was something wrong with my body.
I decided that I’d rather feel “comfortable in my own skin” no matter what my size, weight, or age. My unconscious mind must have agreed because, slowly over time, I started to feel that way. Comfortable in my own skin.
I ate what I wanted, despite what the experts say, and I lost weight without thinking about it (let’ be clear, when you deeply listen to the needs of your body you will gravitate towards foods that are easily digestible for you.) My new body ideal is FEELING good and yes, that means feeling sexy.
I have grown to enjoy and appreciate all the miraculous things my body does. Sometimes I’m amazed that I can run, breath, digest my food. I tell my body how much I appreciate it, and when I overindulge I apologize for not taking good care of it.
This may sound a little kooky, but it works. Every cell of your body is LISTENING to you. When you say things like, “I’m too old, too fat, too stupid, too whatever” your body/mind hears you and it responds accordingly.
Most of the women I work with have deep confidence issues, that reflect in their body, self-image, their work, relationships, and especially in their language.
As a trainer of NLP, I am especially keen on the use of language with my clients, because it is the key to unlocking what’s causing the blocks. Their language will often point to the conflict between what they say they want and what they keep getting.
Photo Credit: Patrick Tomasso