The Capacity to Love

Not everyone is able to love freely. Life can do funny things to people, and sometimes the damage is deep. This applies to all people, whether they’re family, friends, or romantic interests. When someone can’t or doesn’t love us the way we want them to, it’s very painful, but it’s part of life. If it’s a family member, a parent or a child or sibling, it can be brutal. It’s so hard to separate out what belongs to us, and what belongs to other people, to recognize that a person’s capacity to love is not a reflection on you. If your mom or dad couldn’t love you well due to their own limitations, the timing of your birth into their still-forming lives, or their own history with neglect, that’s a wound that will need some serious healing. As a kid, it’s impossible not to take that personally, not to take it to heart. I hear from people every day who were abandoned by one parent or the other, sometimes both. Who were told they were worthless, an accident, a burden. Any parent who can say that to their child is very damaged, indeed.

If you grew up in an environment where you doubted whether you were loved, where you didn’t feel secure or valued or protected, it’s very likely you’ll be drawn to interactions with the same dynamic as you go out into the world. Most people will choose what they know over what they don’t but there are times when learning something completely different would serve a person well. When you find yourself working too hard, bending over backwards to be enough for someone, that’s a burning red flag because real love doesn’t feel that way. It doesn’t diminish you, it emboldens you to be more of yourself, to open more and share more and learn more as you evolve. True love is the most liberating thing there is. Conditional love is not love. It’s control. If you do X, then I’ll love you. If you show up the way I want you to, and you give me what I want, then I’ll love you. Hmmm, really?

When you love from your heart, you give. Not because you want to get, although receiving love is lovely, but because giving comes naturally. When we love someone we want to see them happy. I see so many people enter into relationships projecting all over the place. Jumping in head first, swimming in hormones, having decided this is it!! Attributing all kinds of things to their partners that may or may not be there, instead of allowing the person they’re just getting to know to  reveal what’s there. When we’re attached to an idea, like the idea of being in love, or the idea of a particular person being in love with us, it’s blinding. There’s no way to see what’s real, what’s right in front of you because you’re already ahead of yourself. That isn’t loving someone.

When we love and it’s real, we’re seeing the other person clearly, and we’re saying yes. Yes I see you, and I love what I see. Or we’re seeing clearly, and we’re saying no. No, this doesn’t work for me, after all. I see you, and I accept you as you are, but I know myself well enough to recognize this won’t work, and I respect you enough to tell you. Love is the foundation of freedom and acceptance. It’s not a choke-collar and you won’t have to chase it down like an overly excited puppy. Sometimes we get so attached to the idea of being loved by someone, we lose touch with what is. If a person is feeling what you’re feeling, you’ll know it. It won’t be a mystery. If someone wants to be with you, they”ll find a way. You’ll hurt your heart more if you lie to yourself about that. You won’t be waiting for the phone to ring and you won’t have to sell yourself, or obsess about every little thing you said or did. True love gives you permission to relax. It’s an embrace. If someone can’t embrace you, you may need to take your beautiful heart and move in another direction. If it’s a family member, you may have to love them from afar but your heart is precious. Don’t give it away lightly, and don’t ever sell it. If a person can’t see your beauty, walk in the other direction. If your heart wasn’t protected as a kid, you get to protect it now, as an adult and that’s a privilege, don’t you think? Wishing you the strength to walk away from anything that makes you feel diminished and the intuition to walk toward the people who see you.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful you can find my books here <3

The Story is Pretty Good

If-you-want-a-happyIt’s totally unsurprising that we think in terms of happy endings. Many children’s books start with the words, “Once upon a time…” and end with the line (that screws us all), “And they lived happily ever after.” We’re taught and trained to think this way, and it’s reinforced in every romantic comedy and dumb sitcom, too. But happiness is not a place. You can’t take some “right” train and end up there. Happiness is a process, it stems from work you do within yourself, and most of the time (not all of the time, though), it’s a choice.

We have some crazy idea that at some point we’ll be done. Depending on how old you are, that “done” point will keep shifting to a time out ahead of you. When you’re a kid, you might think you’ll be done at thirty–with that right job and that right partner, in that right house driving that right car, feeling….right. Life will make sense at that point, you’ll know what you’re doing, and everything will fall into place. When you’re thirty, you might think, well…I’ve got some of it figured out, there are just a few pieces of the puzzle I need to figure out. Maybe I’ve got a great person in my life, but professionally there’s a strain. Or vice versa. Once I solve the missing piece, I’ll be done and happy. You can keep having some variation of that conversation with yourself for your entire life. When I retire, I can take trips and relax and life will be good. When this happens or that happens, and before you know it, thirty years have gone by and you haven’t been enjoying the story, you’ve been waiting. As if this isn’t it. Then you can allow yourself to be startled when you catch a glimpse of your seventy-five year old reflection in a mirror, still not “done”. We are always in process, and the story is always unfolding. I think when we look back on our lives, we’ll realize they’ve been shaped by whatever life has put in our paths, and defined by our choices and our actions. That as the story is unfolding, we are also unfolding, shifting, growing, responding and evolving. There’s not going to be an end until we exhale for the final time, and it’s my belief that’s not going to be the end, either. It’s going to be the beginning of something else. Because energy doesn’t die, it just changes form.

The point is, living intentionally is the thing. Being awake and understanding this is the story, this is your life, and where you are right now is just a point in time. If you’re not embracing the journey, you’re missing the plot. When I say we’re all screwed by the line, “And they lived happily ever after”, it’s because the end of one chapter is the beginning of another. If you meet someone and fall in love and one day you decide to get married, for example, the story doesn’t end as you drive off into the sunset with your family and friends waving you off. That’s the beginning of the next phase. Because you’re always changing, and other people are as well, you can never expect to settle in and take for granted that your “happy ending” is a given.

Every story has its sunshine and its storms, its demons, its quests, its confusion, its beauty, its joy. Any good story has all of that. People who are motivated by different feelings and desires, plot twists, bumps and forks in the road. What you do with all that goes a long way toward determining what the experience of it will be for you. If you can open to the ride, to the not knowing of the thing, if you can accept that the ground beneath you will keep shifting, and that you’ll never know exactly what’s around the bend, you’ll probably have a pretty good time. If you keep choosing love, you’ll find it’s there for you when times get tough. And they will. If you take the time to truly know yourself, and know the people closest to you, and if you follow your heart, you’re probably not going to get too lost along the way. When I say happiness is a choice most of the time, I say that because horrendous things happen to extraordinarily beautiful people, and sometimes it’s just not possible to choose happiness. Sometimes you will have to accept that you’re in a chapter of despair, of un-rooting, of pain. But hopefully your foundation of love is strong enough that you’ll pick up the plot again when you’re able. That there will be some hands there to help you up, to hold you, to cry with you. And to remind you that it still is not the end of the story.

Life has everything. It’s a mystery, it has some science fiction, some adventure, some action, some tragedy, some romance, and a lot of comedy. But if you’re looking for a happy ending, think again. That will always be out ahead of you somewhere, because there’s no such thing. Don’t miss the story, I think it’s pretty good. Sending you love. Ally

Live Under the Roof of Your Hope

I think most people simply want to be happy, to live a life that feels good to them, to love and be loved, to find a purpose, to feel passionate about what they’re contributing, to feel that life has meaning. It took me a long time to understand that seeking happiness for myself was bound to make me miserable. Thinking of the world and of your life in particular with the mindset of, “How can I be happy? Why aren’t I happy? What do I need to do to get happy?” is like having blinders on. Seeking happiness for other people is a shortcut to all kinds of amazing stuff, like the feeling of being fulfilled, fired up, and full of gratitude. I think we all experience this to some degree. I’ve always been more excited to give someone a gift than I am to receive one. There’s something so awesome about creating or finding the perfect something to give someone and it’s even better if you get to be there when they open it. It’s a way of saying, “I see you. Your particular spark has not gone unnoticed. I know you. I know what will make you laugh or feel understood.” It’s beautiful to give that to someone. You could give a version of that to any stranger you encounter today just by being present. You could say hello, and how are you, and you could care, and you might just turn someone’s day around. Maybe more than that.

What I didn’t realize until I started teaching yoga, was that there’s no end to that. The more you focus your energy on uplifting other people with anything you’ve got, the better you feel, but that’s the reverse of what we’re taught and lots of people end up in despair, feeling hopeless because the “me formula” doesn’t work. Of course you have to take care of yourself, practice compassion for yourself, and learn to love yourself if you aren’t already, but it is absolutely the case that the more time and attention you place on how and what you might contribute, and the more you act on those feelings, the happier you’ll be. If you doubt that, make today about eliciting as many smiles as you can from other people. Extra points for strangers. I guarantee if you do that, by the end of the day you’re going to feel at least a glimmer of hope, if not an avalanche because people are good, they really are. And yes, this world can break your heart, and there are things we need to fix for the sake of our kids and their kids, the planet, and all the creatures who live on it, but directing your attention to how you might contribute to the well-being of others is definitely a huge step in that direction. Good for others, good for the planet, good for you — there’s no downside. Also, you’re wired for that. We have something called mirror neurons; compassion and empathy are natural to us. If you’ve hardened yourself against that, it’s time to allow your heart to break open to the world again. It won’t kill you, it will free you.

Today I don’t hope to be happy, because I am happy. Not everything in my life is perfect, but I have two beautiful, healthy children and tons of love in my life, and I get to spend time doing what I love. What I hope for is the strength to face reality as it is. To accept the truth. To see clearly, and by that I mean, to see myself clearly, to see others clearly, to see the world clearly. I’m hungry for the truth, not happiness. It’s not all going to be happy. Some of it is going to break your heart right down the middle. If you’re attached to being happy all the time, you’re going to suffer even more when those storms come because you’ll have the pain of the circumstances, but also the pain of your resistance to them. If you hope to open to things as they unfold, and if you hope for the grace to accept both the beautiful and the heart-wrenching, you’re probably going to do quite well.

Sending you love, and the hope that you recognize your potential to give and receive love. Pretty sure that’s why we’re here!

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

Don’t Sleep Through the Dream

Human beings are social creatures, and we all want to feel a sense of connection. We come into this world needing someone to hold us, to feed us, to wrap us in something warm, to talk to us, nurture us and let us know we are not alone. (Not everyone gets those things, but we all arrive needing them.) The other night as I was tucking my six-year old into bed he said, “Is this a dream?” And I said, “Is what a dream, buddy?” He said, “This life, this whole thing, is it a dream?” And I thought about it for a second, because, really, what a question and I said, “If it is, it’s a great dream, because I get to be your mom,” and he laughed.

Sometimes we’re so hungry for connection, we accept just about anything. A warm body, someone to share some space with. This is especially true for people who were not received with love when they came into this world. Years ago I used to volunteer at a hospital where they needed people to come in and hold babies who were born to mothers addicted to crack and other narcotics. Most of them were very tiny, and extremely uncomfortable. They’d just writhe and cry, and it was enough to break your heart if you let it, but every so often they’d settle and sigh, and fall asleep for a bit and I’d always whisper stories of all the things they were going to do, all the beautiful places they’d see one day, all the adventures they’d have because we all need hope. Without hope, I think life gets pretty dark.

If you were born to people who didn’t know how to love you well, or couldn’t for whatever reason, if you grew up in an abusive household, or were told you were unwanted, if you somehow received the message that you didn’t matter and no one cared if you were here or you weren’t, you have your work cut out for you because you’re going to have to unlearn those lies, and eventually you’re going to have to understand that it had, and has, nothing to do with you. Not everyone understands how to love well. Some people have very little frame of reference for that. It doesn’t reflect on you, but it will affect you, and you will have to seek out the tools to heal yourself.

The world is not a cold place. There are so many people who care and who do know how to love, but if you believe you’re worthless, you’re probably not going to seek those people out until you get right with yourself. It’s much more likely you’ll go after more people who can’t love you well, or won’t love you, so you can set up the dynamic that’s familiar to you, and try to wrangle yourself a different outcome. You are better off alone, taking stock of where you are, and where you want to be, learning how to feed a loving voice and choose one thought over another, than you are giving yourself to people who will continue to make you feel you are somehow easy to reject or discard. And by the way, if you enter a relationship trying to get something (your happy ending, validation from the other person, loyalty, love, stability), you set yourself up and you set them up, too. If you’re coming from a place of neediness, you’re likely to sell yourself, to bend over backwards showing the person how awesome you are, how much they need you. That’s not the same as giving with a free heart.

It’s a cycle and it’s a dangerous one because if you repeat it enough it will start to drain you of hope. Hurt people hurt people as the saying goes. Your parents may not have been able to love you, and the people you’ve been picking to get close to might not, either. Some people are terrified of real intimacy. They may have grown up with the lie that if you get close to people they’ll hurt you. They may be playing out their own past as well. It’s a big mess when two people come together who have no idea what’s motivating them, what they want, what they need, what lights them up, or what they need to do to heal individually. Everybody’s dragons come out to play, and everyone gets burned.

Solitude and the deep work of healing are where you want to head if you have lies to unlearn. Remember that what you know, and what you’ve known, is not all there is. I learned that the first time I went scuba diving. I was astonished to discover there was a whole, unbelievably gorgeous world right underneath the world I’d been living in. Our emotional life is like that, too. There are whole worlds that can open up to you and blow you away. It may, indeed, be lonely for awhile, but if you want connection in this world, you have to be willing to move through the fire of your pain to get there. If it’s all a dream, it isn’t the kind you want to sleep through.

Sending you love and a hug,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

Live Out of Your Imagination

A few months ago I received an email from a guy who was ending a relationship with the woman he’d been hoping to meet his entire life. They had a great thing going, looked at the world in a similar way, had no shortage of laughter, great times, passion, real conversations and the ability to relax with each other. They’d taken trips and met each other’s families (he met her entire family, she met his mom and sister, but he doesn’t speak to his dad), and everyone felt they were a great match.

However, this man had grown up watching his dad abuse his mom verbally, emotionally and physically, and he couldn’t get past the fear that eventually this great thing he had would turn into that painful thing he knew; that one day he’d find himself throwing a pan at the head of this woman he adored as their kid stood there watching, or saying things to her that he wouldn’t be able to live with, or doing things that would make him feel terrible about himself. He remembered feeling helpless and enraged as a child, and throwing himself between his mom and his dad as he got bigger. He said he did have a temper, and had managed to keep it in check for the two years he’d been with his girlfriend, but he didn’t think he’d be able to do that for 60 years. So he was going to say goodbye to her to save her from a life of pain. (I could say a lot about how we get ourselves into trouble when we try to manage other people’s paths, but that can wait for now).

The other day someone asked me to address the difference between sitting with your pain (non-reactivity), and processing it (liberation). I think this is a huge and important distinction. Sitting with your pain means you don’t run or numb out  when uncomfortable and intense feelings arise, such as rage, grief, fear, shame, loneliness or despair. You don’t race out the door, pop a pill, have a drink, play a video game, go shopping, take a hit, open the refrigerator, pick up the phone in anger, or shoot off a fiery email. You just allow the feelings to arise and you observe them. You notice sensations in your body, like maybe shallow breathing, or that your shoulders are up around your ears, or there’s tension between your eyebrows, or a literal ache around your heart or deep in your belly. You let the feelings wash over you without acting, and with the understanding that they aren’t permanent and they aren’t facts. They won’t kill you, and you don’t have to act on them. They’re just feelings, and they will arise, peak and subside. By sitting with them you open to the possibility of learning something essential about yourself — the why of your rage, fear or shame — and by facing those feelings you own them, they don’t own you; they don’t run your show, you run it. You choose how you respond, you don’t allow yourself to lash out in a state of reactivity and end up with a mess you have to clean up. Working on becoming less reactive and more responsive is huge, it’s a life-changer.

If you want to process your feelings — if, for example, you find rage is coming up for you all the time, then I would recommend that you find yourself a great therapist or coach, someone you trust and feel safe with, so you can dive into the source of what’s causing you so much pain. That’s as subjective an undertaking as finding a great yoga teacher, someone who resonates with you, and with whom you feel comfortable. I know so many people who say they tried therapy once (or yoga) and it “wasn’t for them.” You may have to call a number of people to figure out the right person to work with. Having someone who can kindly hold up a mirror for you so you can see your pain clearly, but also your light, also your power, can be so helpful. Combining that with a consistent yoga practice so you can work on feeding a loving voice while you’re on your mat is really powerful. The other thing I’d highly recommend is seated meditation. When you sit, and there’s nothing coming in, and nothing going out, you start processing what’s inside you. It’s kind of like emotional fasting, not that there’s an absence of emotion, just that the emotion is arising from deep within you. Eventually, if you stick with a seated meditation practice, you become more interested in the fact that you’re thinking, and not in the thoughts themselves. Eventually you find some peace in the space between your thoughts, which will increase if you stick with it. I’ve been practicing Vipassana (insight) meditation for almost two decades, you can check it out at if you’re interested.

The thing is, there’s no easy way around this stuff. Whatever your pain, you’ll have to go through it, but there are so many tools and healing modalities that help. You just have to explore and figure out what’s going to be helpful to you on your path toward healing. For me, yoga, seated meditation and therapy are a great mix, along with reading and writing. For you, it may something else, but there’s no reason your particular frame of reference has to rule your life. You can only know what you know, right? Whatever you’ve been through makes up your frame — the lens through which you look at the world and process data. Sometimes that lens is bent, or cracked, or covered over with a thick layer of despair. You work with your lens so you can see clearly. That’s the liberation I mentioned above. It’s not the that pain goes away, it’s simply that you recognize it when it comes up, and the force of it has been so diminished by your work, it doesn’t rule your life anymore. You don’t assume that what you’ve known is all there is. You have the freedom to imagine something else for yourself, to create something that maybe you’ve never known or seen, but you know in your heart is possible. You have the power to forge a different path.

Wishing that for you, and sending you love, as always,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here, and my yoga classes and courses here. If you’d like to sign up for one-on-one online coaching with me, please email me at for more information.

It Takes Courage to Surrender

Rejection is one of the worst feelings known to humans. It starts when we’re little — the first time you weren’t invited to a party or a sleepover, the first time your best friend decided she wanted lots of friends and not just you. The first time you were left out of a game, or were the last person picked for dodgeball. Maybe you grew up being bullied or teased or excluded or you’ve always had a tough time making friends. We’ve all had our hearts broken at least once, badly. You could have experienced feelings of rejection from your own parents or siblings.

There’s research that suggests the same part of the brain that responds to physical pain is also triggered when we feel rejected (the anterior cingulate cortex, or ACC if you’re interested in these things); that we are as distressed by feelings of being excluded as we are to a physical injury. That could explain the level of panic and desperation many people feel when they’ve been left, and of course there’s always personal history that can compound the situation. Many people experience heartbreak as an actual sensation or mix of sensations in the body — a heaviness, an emptiness, the lack of appetite or motivation to get out of bed, the exhaustion, and physical pain deep in the belly or around the heart.

Have you ever been rejected by someone you didn’t even like that much? Even in that case it doesn’t feel good. If you have any deep-seated doubts about whether you are truly lovable, it’s highly likely you’re going to feel the desire to run toward people who reflect those doubts back to you because if you can convince them, maybe you can convince yourself and heal an old wound. If you’ve tried that, you know it doesn’t work.

Here’s the thing. If someone wants to walk out the door or throw in the towel, or if a person expresses doubt in word or in action about their feelings for you early in a relationship, the only truly loving thing you can do is let them go. Trying to sell yourself is damaging to your soul, it’s going to make you feel sick. Running or chasing after people also makes you sick, like you’re hooked, and can be yanked in any direction. Like you’ve lost your power.

Love with your heart, your mind, and your hands open. People may change or leave, they may disappoint you in many ways. In order to love yourself, you cannot allow yourself to be abused. When you feel like your light is being crushed, and when you participate in the crushing, you really can’t nurture anyone else. If a person doesn’t see you or understand you or get you or celebrate you, let them go and do your best to wish them well. Do that for yourself and the other person, because love does not force or manipulate or control. It doesn’t run people down. I know we all have our visions or ideas of “how things should be,” but you have to meet people where they are. Too many people get caught up in the potential. “I’m so in love with the way I know this person could be, if only…” That’s not the same as, ” I’m so in love with this person.”

Your story may not unfold the way you’ve written it in your mind. You cannot control what other people will do or say or want, but you can heal yourself and if you do that, you will happily walk to the door anyone who doesn’t seem fully psyched to be with you. You’ll do that for you, and you’ll also do that for them. Thich Nhat Hanh on this, “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.” Not every lid is meant to fit your pot. No point forcing it.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.

Does This Society Make My A$$ Look Fat?

Does-this-society-makeYour body is your home, it’s where you’re going to live for your entire life. If you hate your body (and I hear some variation of this from people all the time), there’s a war raging within your home.

There are all kinds of things we could say about the culture that’s breeding this kind of self-hatred. If you want to sell products, you have to make a person feel that they need what you’re selling and a lot of what’s being sold doesn’t even exist. Most of the time what people buy is the promise of how things could be if only (you’d lose ten pounds or live in a bigger house or drink this beer and have these kind of friends and always do and say the cool thing), but there’s no diet that’s going to make you happy. There’s no house, car, or hairspray that’s going to satisfy the beast of your despair if you’re in pain. You cannot buy your way to happiness. You can’t starve your way there, either. And you can do as many reps as you want to, but big biceps aren’t the key to your inner peace.

We are all inundated with images of photo-shopped people on covers of “health” magazines, and as far as I can tell, beauty magazines are designed to make women feel ugly. Like they’re not nearly enough. Men aren’t let off the hook, either. There are pills and creams for baldness and erectile dysfunction, and if the side effects happen to be death, at least you’ll look good in the coffin, although the casket might have to be closed if that blue pill works too well. I don’t buy those magazines, and I don’t watch television, but I drive around and see billboards all over the place. It’s like a constant mantra of “You suck!” and unless you do a lot of work on it, it’s very likely you’re going to internalize those messages. Did you know that Brown University conducted a study and found that 74.4% of normal-weight women said they thought about their weight or appearance “all the time” or “frequently”? And 46% of normal-weight men reported the same. When I give the cue in yoga class, “Your hands are shoulders-distance apart,” I notice almost all the men in my classes have their hands too close together because we’ve got all the men convinced they’re smaller than they are and when I say, “Separate your feet hip-distance apart,” almost all the women take their feet close to the edges of their mats. We’ve got all the women convinced they’re bigger than they are. What is more disempowering to people than the feeling that we all just can’t get it right? Can’t measure up? What drives the desire to distract people so they’re focused on how they look instead of what’s happening in the world?

The language we commonly use when talking about our bodies is aggressive, as in “battle of the bulge,” and “no pain, no gain.” I see people on their mats forcing themselves into poses their bodies aren’t ready to do because it’s so second-nature to think of the body as something we own that needs to bend to our will. I get it, because I struggled for years with body-image issues. I grew up taking ballet and learned early, the thinner the better. In fact, why eat at all? I think I started restricting calories when I was thirteen. I stopped dancing when I was sixteen, but my relationship with my body didn’t get any better. I’d over-exercise and under-eat, and still never be happy, never feel satisfied. Of course there are personality traits that lend themselves to this kind of thinking as well. If I can’t control what’s happening in my life, at least I can control what I put in my body. And so it goes.

The amount of time and energy I spent worrying about my appearance blows my mind when I think about it now. What a waste, and think of all the places that energy could have gone. It truly didn’t change until I started doing yoga. It wasn’t instantaneous, but after I’d been practicing consistently for awhile, I started to tune into my body in a different way. I’d grown up drinking diet soda and eating processed food, with no real awareness that your body doesn’t function well if you feed it a steady diet of chemicals. If something has seventeen syllables, your body really doesn’t know what to do with it. Yoga woke me up and stopped me in my tracks and made me think about things I’d never considered before, like what made me happy. What lit me up. It made me wonder what I was doing here, and what I was offering up to the world around me. Because honestly, when I started doing yoga I had blinders on. I lived in the small world of what’s happening for me? What’s not happening for me? Why isn’t it happening, and what can I do to make it happen faster? And if I wasn’t in that frame of mind, I was depressed and not getting much of anything done at all except dating older men and feeling any sense of myself moving further and further away from me.

Yoga brought me back to myself, in a way I hadn’t been since…I don’t know. I started to have a visceral experience of feeling good in my own skin, of listening and responding with the intent to heal. Of breathing in and breathing out. Little by little I started to know myself. In some ways it was amazing and in others, it was incredibly painful because not everything was pretty and light. When you’ve been hating your body for years, or exerting control over it like it’s something separate from you that needs to be feared lest it betray you, you’re also living in a house of shame.

Your body is an incredible gift. Your beating heart and your legs that get you from point A to point B (if you’re lucky to have two working legs). Your arms that can reach for people and hug them. Your smile, the light in your eyes. It’s all pretty amazing, but you rarely hear anyone say, “I love my body. My body is such a gift.” As I continued practicing, I discovered that when I fed my body well, it performed better and I felt clear in my thinking and full of energy. This was like a revelation to me. I started to educate myself about organic food. Eventually I went the vegan route. I’m not trying to convince you of a thing. What you put in your body is one of the most personal things in the world, and it’s up to you to figure out what feels right, but there’s no way to separate the way you feel about your body from the way you’re feeding it and treating it, or the way you feel about the planet. It’s all connected.

Sometimes people tell me they love food too much to make big changes. I love food. I have a completely different relationship to my body than I did twenty years ago when I started practicing. I’ve also grown two people in my body since then, and if that doesn’t make you realize your body is miraculous, nothing will. If you start to feed a loving voice, if you start to care about yourself, you’re going to want to take care of yourself in a different way, and I can tell you it feels very good. Throw out your scale and get off your diet if you need to. Unroll a yoga mat and get to know your body. Think before you eat. Close your eyes and see if you can really tune into what your body wants. It isn’t diet soda, I can promise you that. This culture of less-than will rob you of the chance to be at peace with yourself if you let it.

Sending you love,

Ally Hamilton

If the posts are helpful, you can find my books here and my yoga classes and courses here.