How We Occupy The Body

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By. Rashina Gajjar

How do we occupy the body? 

Which words do we whisper to ourselves in the dark of the night?

Do we close our arms around ourselves in love or berate our clumsy human forms

The body is its very own universe. 

We are the tenants.

So, how do we nourish our inner atmosphere?

In my case, I have had an unrelenting relationship with my body for years. 

Years of moving to different countries and having a different stamp branded on me by someone else. Accepting that stamp. Feeling the shame of it. 

Feeling the shame of being me, in an environment that didn’t accept it. Being me in a body that I couldn’t leverage for love.

I would pluck throwaway comments from the world around me and believe them. 

“You should do more exercise”

“At least I’m prettier than you”

“You’re fat”

Like many of us, I spent years getting angry at my body for not doing the things I wanted it to do, not being the things I wanted it to be. Things I had seen would gain me acceptance.

My first breaking point was when a relative asked me if I was ‘slimming’ on the eve of my grandmother’s funeral, because I said I didn’t want rice with my meal.

Next, it was stretch marks at 15, body hair at sixteen, wobbles at 20.

I disliked the way my body sat, in front of the mirror. 

I disliked that whenever I exercised to a point where that changed, the world responded differently to me. Liked me better. 

You couldn’t tell by the passing comments I made - upbeat - about feminism and body positivity. About self love. I wasn’t feeling that love, though I desperately wanted it. The love was on hold, pending approval from the outside. Pending agreement. Pending attention. 

This went on for a number of years. I yo-yo’d from one form to another, each matching the kindness (or lack thereof) in my thinking.

And then one day, I came full circle.

I realized that I couldn’t berate my body for feeling fear about the prospect of a gym class, because years ago, I had felt those fears and anxieties, created that response, and left the triggers hanging in the air unaddressed. The wound was still wide open. 

I was unwilling to repeat my life all over again with the same ‘shoulds’, anxieties, and feelings of hidden ugliness.

So, I started talking to myself differently. 

Living differently, within my body. 

I realized I couldn’t hate my body for not feeling comfortable and proud when surrounded by people that brought up insecurities. I had talked my shoulders down myself.

I told my body I would mend our relationship. 

I said: it’s okay if we take it slow, I will not hold you to ideals that are filled with dread and anxiety. I will not give up on you. I will be kind to you. Give me time, you will learn to trust me.

My body, tired of living with the quiet ache of unworthiness, agreed.

We have started. 

We are far from perfect, as we walk the streets together and fuse our cells with kindness. 

We are proud, though, of our imperfections and our journey. 

There are difficult moments, but I have tried to take the time and respond differently. 

Go for a walk. Read a book. Close your eyes. Feel the beauty of that perfect little soul scintillating within, lighting up the world with every movement. 

If you feel unease within your body, think of yourselves as two beings fused into one. 

How have you treated each other? What have you told your body, in the mirror, disgust seeping through your voice and into your every pore? How can that be changed? How can you love yourself more wildly and fiercely, with patience and no end goal or reason? Is there a path, there, hidden amongst the trees, that you may walk along together? 

Re-defining how we occupy the body means carving out a new beginning.

The main ingredient is love. 

Rashina Gajjar is a London-based writer, strategist, and self-development enthusiast. After living in 6 countries and witnessing the many facets of human expression, she believes that our true potential can only be reached in liberating our deepest, quietest, most powerful voice. Website: / Instagram: @rashinagajjar/ Email: