By Shana Johnstone
Before and after are realms for the mind. For the body, there is only now.
You don’t exist in the before. Yes, you were alive yesterday, and fifteen years ago, and every day from the day you were born, all of which are part of the past. But each of those moments had its own now, and your bodily experience of those moments happened as now moments. The mind can return to them in memory, but your body cannot. Your body is physically anchored here, today, now.
You also don’t exist in the after. How can you? It hasn’t happened yet. You might be striving for something, working towards a future state of physical being or competence, sure. It will be exciting to get there. But though your mind can imagine it and plan for it, execution happens in the now. Here today, you can’t do tomorrow’s training or next week’s recovery. Your mind can plot ahead, but your body remains here. Now.
Perhaps you have a moment in time that your mind holds close, a time when you thought/think your body was/will be optimal in some way. This time could be a few years ago, or in your future. You may think of this as your used-to-be body or your after-body. It may represent what you perceive to be a source of happiness.
I get it—this image of your body that your mind has latched onto may have been/may be the result of a lot of hard work (or youth, or genetics, or circumstance). But the problem with a used-to-be body or an after-body that you’ve put on a pedestal is any day that comes after that fixed moment. The problem is the near certainty of change, which is the hallmark of passing time.
When we hold on tight to a particular image of ourselves, one from our past, we create a hostile environment for our current body. In this environment, who we are now is no longer enough. And when we idolize a particular self-image that hasn’t yet come into being, anything short of that image—in other words, who we are now—isn’t yet worthy.
Since it’s not possible to live physically in the past or the future, the present moment is everything we have. We are always in it. Your body, even as it changes over time, will always be your now body.
So what would happen if we chose to appreciate our bodies today? If you see your body as a source of happiness, whether from how it looks or how it functions, appreciating your body now opens a path to that feeling that you can access every damn day.
Your now body is right here, right now, waiting for you.