Have you heard of Love Your Body Day? It runs in October every year, and each year there’s a new theme and new artwork. I was delighted to hear from The Belly Queen, Lisa Sarasohn, that she’d not only entered the artwork competition, but won it!
You may remember Lisa from series 1 of The Body Image Revolution. She’s the author of “The Woman’s Belly Book- finding your true centre for more energy, confidence and pleasure’. And you know, when we talk about our bodies we’re usually saying we want smaller backsides, we want different breasts, smoother hips and very often we want flatter stomachs.
In our world of hundreds of diets that promote belly flattening as a really worthy and useful way to spend our time, Lisa doesn’t agree that it’s necessary or useful to flatten our bellies. Lisa is a body work therapist, yogini , an award-winning SAS poet, public speaker, and workshop leader on women’s health and body confidence. And now also, an artist!
Lisa agreed to answer some questions about the project, and give us an update on where she’s heading:
How long have you been involved in the movement to help women improve their body image?
Reading a book titled “Hara: The Vital Centre of Man” by Karlfried Graf von Durckheim sometime around 1986 fired up my passion. At that point I’d struggled with dieting for many years — since I’d been a teenager — and this book, as well as the yoga practice that I was developing at the time, pointed me to something different. They offered me practical ways to inhabit my body and find pleasure in being embodied. What really sparked me was discovering my body’s center, my belly, as sacred rather than shameful. Who knew?
The reading, writing, teaching, and research I did over the next twenty years culminated in the publication of The Woman’s Belly Book: Finding Your True Center for More Energy, Confidence and Pleasure. I’m continually delighted to hear how women around the world are using that book to make peace with their bodies and move into new levels of confidence, creativity, sense of purpose, and self-respect.
I didn’t know you were an artist, I thought you were a queen only 🙂 What made you decide to enter this competition?
Over the years, I’ve been so intrigued with the body’s center as home to our soul-power that I’ve wanted to express what I’ve been discovering in a variety of media. If I don’t know how to do a certain kind of artwork, I learn! Celebrating the body’s center shows up in what I write — poetry, short fiction, essays, stage plays, screenplays — as well as in dance, music and the visual arts.
For example: I present the sequence of belly energizing exercises I teach in several ways, including as a Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine. In the book by that title, I narrate each exercise as a gesture enacting a body prayer; I also illustrate each gesture with a colorful cut-paper collage. I’ve enjoyed seeing how strongly women respond to these images.
I entered the NOW Foundation’s Love Your Body poster contest because the theme is so central to everything I value. And I liked the challenge of communicating visually, through image and design.
Yes, indeed, that’s me and my very well-loved body. I learned how to put my camera on self-timer with multiple exposures, perched it on a shelf, and put myself in front of it.
How did you come up with that message?
As wonderful as the words “Love Your Body” are, they can still come across as a demand, with a tad of judgment attached. That’s one more thing we should be doing, one more way to measure our success or failure.
In The Woman’s Belly Book and in my workshops, I offer women fun ways to cultivate a loving relationship with our bellies and with our bodies as a whole. As we know, rewarding relationships require intimate two-way communication. So I morphed “Love Your Body” into a more personal statement of reciprocal relationship between mind and body: “I love my body; my body loves me.”
I like the way the image implies that we already love our bodies; our bodies already love us. And, given the culture in which we live, revealing that truth requires us to apply determination, courage, and creativity in our day-to-day lives.
We hear so much about manifesting our dreams. What, if anything, did you do to support your chances of winning the contest?
The Woman’s Belly Book and its Gutsy Women’s Workout speak to defining and actualizing our intentions. When we state a clear intention and support it by aligning the pro-creative power concentrated in our body’s center with our soul purpose, our heart’s desire and universal spirit, we’re putting ourselves in position to participate in the communication between heaven and earth.
Practically speaking, I put a copy of my poster design up on the wall in the room where I do my practice of belly-energizing exercises. That way, it served as a visual focus for my practice and reminded me of my intention — not just to win the contest but, more importantly, to inspire women (myself included!) to ever-greater degrees of self-respect and body confidence.
The sequence of belly-energizing exercises ends with a body prayer that invokes the alignment of spirit, purpose, desire, intention, pro-creative power, and actuality: May all my actions be effortless, playful; may my heart’s desires be manifest; may the universe accomplish her purpose through me. Blessed be!
What happens next for the poster? Where will we see it?
The poster is on the NOW Foundation’s website and people can send it as an e-card to their friends and relations from that page.
Also, in response to some comments on Facebook, I’ve adorned a variety of t-shirts with a variation on the poster design.
What’s next for you, your abdominal majesty?
I’ll be teaching a six-day retreat this summer, July 12-17, Sex & the Sacred Girl.
I’m hearing more and more that women are looking for ways to be and feel grounded. “Grounding” may seem to be a far cry from body image concerns. Yet I think body image anxieties arise exactly when we’re not feeling grounded. I’m understanding the need to “ground” as the desire to actually inhabit our bodies, to feel our material presence and our rootedness, our intimate relationship with Earth. A desire to shift from body image to embodied experience; to live from the inside out.
To this point, I’ve narrated the sequence of belly-energizing exercises as a ritual for healing as well as a Rite for Reconsecrating Our Womanhood and a Rite for Invoking the Sacred Feminine. A new narration might be making its way into form now, elaborating the theme “Deep Body, Deep Earth” — the resonance between our body’s center and the planet’s center, emanations of the Sacred Feminine.
We’re going to meet the Goddess. Always an adventure!
Thank you Lisa – it’s a delight to catch up with what you’re doing, and to see how your wonderful talents are continuing to change the world. To stay in touch with Lisa, you can sign up for updates from her at The Women’s Belly Book website.