The interwebs is alive with discussion regarding obesity and the nature of it being a taboo topic within pagan circles. Peter Dybing recently posted an article on his blog Pagan in Paradise regarding this oh-so-taboo of topics. I applaud Peter for taking a step in creating space to have a discussion regarding health within out spiritual communities.
To start off, Obesity is not a “body image issue”, it is a health issue. Many have lashed out with the thought that this is going to create polarization within the community, that judgment will occur due to body size, etc. Rather than taking this as an opportunity to discuss creating positive change for health within our pagan circles, we have taken it as an opportunity to attack and tear down each other… see anything hypocritical about this?
Obesity is a global issue, to think that we as magical culture are exempt from the issues that plague society is a narrowing viewpoint. What I do feel however is that we as a magical community have the power to effect change globally by taking a deeper acceptance of where we are in our pursuit of health.
Before the attacks begin, let me give you a bit of my back story:
I have been on a yo-yo existence with my weight ever since childhood. I was healthy, but I did not feel satisfied with the extra weight. Weight even now, is a struggle. I’ve also had the opportunity to see this issue from multiple perspectives. I am a certified personal trainer, nutritionist, and yoga instructor. I am vegan. I’ve worked for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), and have worked in gyms and studios across the east coast. It was also my responsibility while in the Navy to be a fitness instructor for the Special Warfare candidates. I have competed in bodybuilding competitions and I have also suffered through struggles with being overweight.
There is a reason why the fitness industry makes over 8 billion dollars a year, and an its the same reason that the pharmaceutical industry makes even more… we surrender our power away to others rather than taking responsibility for where we are.
If we look at the body as a temple. The soul as the energy that moves through us, it is important for us to improve that temple by whatever means necessary.
Now, lets step this away from a body image issue. This is not about body image… again, let me stay… this is NOT about body image.
The problem that I have seem as a fitness professional that is also a member of greater spiritual community is surrender to non-health. I think that we should absolutely love ourselves no matter what size we are… big, small, and everything in between… However I do not agree with surrendering to poor states of health, poor habits, and poor lifestyle choices.
As members of spiritual community we have a responsibility to our divine work to be part of this experience for as long as possible. We cannot use our spirituality as a shield to the reality we face as a community. Obesity as a health issue is an epidemic. We can pull facts, stats, etc and we can argue both directions. We begin feeding into a greater illusion that being overweight does not have a damaging effect on the body. Carrying excess weight not only puts excess stress on the joints, spine, and hormonal system, but it may limit how we engage the world around us. I agree, greater society does at time make this more about body image than health… why are we feeding into this same illusion? Are we, as spiritual individuals not able to see through this to the core of what we are supposed to be engaging?
Each of us holds weight differently. Each of us has a unique beauty.
This is an opportunity for us to have dialogue to create opportunities to engage health in a new and fun way. Locally we have monthly Pagan Centered Fitness gatherings.
Having these discussions are moments for us to engage in expansion instead of limitation. We are a spiritual family, and it our responsibility to reach out with compassion and acceptance. Size is not always an indicator of health, but by the same token, size does add some restriction especially when it is coupled with poor eating, lifestyle, and fitness habits.
Where are you within your body now?
What changes would you like to make to improve overall health and well-being?
How do you feel in this moment?
Where are you giving power away in regards to food?
***This last question is one way we can bring the spiritual aspects into how we relate to food. Food is a powerful way for us to connect as community. It brings us together. Does our spread reflect healthy connections to food? Do we surrender to certain foods because of emotional attachments?
I am going to do a series of posts on this topic, as I feel this needs to be an ongoing discussion. Perhaps we can even facilitate an open discussion on conference call to bring actual voices to this issue.
If we don’t talk about issues of health, how are we supposed to engage our communities towards positive evolution?
Michael Brazell, CFT CSN MAT PAT