Photo: Matthew Rolston
After spending the past 10 weeks in class with Eckhart Tolle, studying his book A New Earth , I know for sure that I am not my body. I feel more connected to consciousness, or soul, or inner spirit—whatever you choose to name the formless being that is the essence of who we are. I think of all the years I've wasted hating myself fat, wanting myself thin. Feeling guilty about every croissant, then giving up carbs, then fasting, then dieting, then worrying when I wasn't dieting, then eating everything I wanted until the next diet (on Monday or after the holidays or the next big event). Wasted time, abhorring the thought of trying on clothes, wondering what was going to fit, what number the scale would say. All that energy I could have spent loving what is.
Sixteen years ago, when spiritual teacher Marianne Williamson was first on my show to talk about her book A Return to Love , I asked her why she thought I was having such struggles with my weight. She wrote me a letter saying this: "Until you accept the magnitude of your function, your unconscious mind will sabotage any attempt to show your full magnificence. In fact, if you diet and lose weight, your mind will either put the weight back on or trip up in some other area. In order to lose weight on a permanent basis, you want a shift in your belief about who and what you are. This is the miracle you seek."
I used to carry that letter around in my purse and pull it out when I felt like overeating. I had the words printed on a card and framed on my desk. And yet I still didn't get it until recently. Who I am, who you are…we're not our bodies or the image we hold of them. But because what you give your attention to looms larger—in this case literally—all my focus on weight actually made me fatter. Wasted time.
I can look at a picture from any period of my life, and the first thing that comes to mind is not the event or experience, but my weight and size, because that is how I've viewed (and judged) myself—through the prism of numbers.
But I've given up scale-watching—letting a number determine how I see myself and whether I'm worthy of a good day. Part of my awakening through the New Earth classes has been to recognize how shallow and small that made me. Aha! So that's what Marianne meant when she wrote 16 years ago about "the magnitude of your function." She was right: It is indeed a miracle when you realize the fullness of who you are. You're not your body, and for sure you're not your body image.
That's a free at last kind of recognition. No more wasted time.
From the June 2008 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine
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