Finding Peace and Possibility

BAW blog heading v2
Melanie Klein Headshot

Melanie C. Klein, M.A.

Editor’s Note: This blog post is part of a collaborative media series organized and curated by NEDA and the Yoga & Body Image Coalition for Body Acceptance Week.

There is so much space and possibility within stillness.

Stillness requires me to slow down and listen. It asks me to become present and access what is true right now… and what’s possible on the other side. Stillness gently invites me to sit with discomfort, resistance and outdated mental scripts and just be. I can unhook from the past and shut out the messages and images vying for my attention with every swipe and every glance. Being right here, right now opens doors to new realms of possibility.

This is the space and place where I can expand, get bigger, and take up room without shaming or second guessing myself. There tends to be a sense of expansion that we can feel when we just simply allow ourselves to exist without fighting ourselves, without being at war with ourselves. It’s been true for me personally for over 25 years and I’ve seen the same hold true for many of my students and clients that I’ve worked with over that time.

When I become still, I get to deeply listen. I am able to access a more authentic and honest version of myself. In the noise, it’s easy to get lost in someone else’s version of what I should look like, feel like, be like. I’ve found that profoundly exhausting, if not debilitating over the years. I feel most myself when I am in complete acceptance of where I’m at and who I am. Right here. Right now. It requires me to accept all the nuances and vacillations of my body and her moods. My physical body continues to teach me that it has moods of its own and that I need to honor and respect those moods if I am to honor and respect my whole self. In listening to my body and practicing accordingly, I have gained profound wisdom that I utilize as a resource and inspiration for happiness and work in the world. I just need to continue to practice becoming present and listening deeply.

Body acceptance empowers me. I feel it in my bones and my breath, steady and grounded. I hear it as my mind changes and I’m able to move from some potentially harmful thought, one meant to shame and punish me, to one that nourishes and celebrates me. I see it in the way I carry myself through the world and the standards I set for myself. Body acceptance is a deep peace that expands my notion of what is possible. This moment and the next isn’t defined by what happened yesterday, last week or 10 years ago. I can choose fresh and anew in each moment.

I don’t have to accept things that constrain, shrink and rob me of my own agency or authority. Whether it’s challenging and resisting commodified, objected or hypersexualized images that have Photoshopped the life and experiences out of the women featured, to the decisions I make about my body… body peace empowers and emboldens me. There’s energy, drive and passion being diverted and redirected from self-loathing and self-punishment to the creation, action and dynamism of living fully, unapologetically and in the spirit of collective liberation.

Body acceptance has relieved me of the tyranny that a distorted and negative body image had on my life for many years. From this grounded, peaceful and still place my life opens up dramatically. Body acceptance creates more time, space and energy for me to focus on the bigger picture and contribute to society in a fuller, more meaningful way. Making over my body and conforming to a narrow and unrealistic standard of beauty is no longer one of my biggest aspirations. It no longer determines my capacity for joy. That’s liberating and empowering.

Melanie C. Klein, M.A., is an empowerment coach, thought leader and influencer in the areas of radical self-acceptance, authentic empowerment, and supercharged confidence. She is also a successful writer, speaker, and professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her areas of interest and specialty include media literacy education, body image, and the intersectional analysis of systems of power and privilege. She is the co-editor of Yoga and Body Image: 25 Personal Stories About Beauty, Bravery + Loving Your Body (Llewellyn, 2014) with Anna Guest-Jelley, a contributor in 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics and Practice (Horton & Harvey, 2012), is featured in Conversations with Modern Yogis (Shroff, 2014), a featured writer in Llewellyn’s Complete Book of Mindful Living (Llewellyn, 2016), co-editor of Yoga, the Body and Embodied Social Change: An Intersectional Feminist Analysis with Dr. Beth Berila and Dr. Chelsea Jackson Roberts (Rowman and Littlefield, 2016), Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body (Llewellyn, 2018) and the co-editor of the new anthology, Embodied Resilience through Yoga (Llewellyn, 2020). She co-founded the Yoga and Body Image Coalition in 2014 and lives in California.