Pluto, the 2006 demoted and subsequently dubbed dwarf planet has not gone down without a fight; (where are we now?: Lost one; looks like 8 planets left in our solar system?) The surprises keep coming: Scientists found a fourth moon—calling it “mini-moon”—orbiting the plutoid today.
It was 1992. We would hop the train to the Hayden Planetarium on Central Park West. Six year old me—always insecure about my large size comparative to my classmates—adored our trips to the Natural History Museum. In nature, I could go somewhere else—far from my body (I thought).
While Earth (rocks, plants, animals) would fascinate me, Space would captivate me; I even had a wall-length poster of the post-Star Gazer constellation map hanging directly beside my bed at which I would stare mid-afternoons or late mornings.
Sitting with my class trip buddy—the kid with whom you were commanded to hold hands in fear of being snatched and plastered on a milk carton—I would lean and gaze upward—aided by the special reclining seats at the Space Theater, this dome in my sky, wondering what it would feel like to be up there.
I was a pudgy youth. My schoolmates made this clear to me. Outside to the left of the Space Theater, after a riveting projection of the Big Bang or, I think, colliding galaxies, I saw scale convertors where you got to see how much you weighed on various celestial bodies. (Click this link to get your calculation: http://www.exploratorium.edu/ronh/weight/)
Brought my class trip buddy along, who thankfully was considered a nobody-weirdo like me, and did not draw much attention when we dipped from the line to see what our lot would be in the heavens.
Jupiter’s was humongous; Venus’, less but about the same number [as Earth]; Mars’—wow, now we are talking; Eureka! I found the Moon. There on the Moon, I was something like one-fifth of my weight. "This is where I need to be--somewhere I was “normal,” I thought. (I look back wondering how did, at such a young age, I learn to live so adversarial in relationship to by body, to refer to it as this expendable other, to live outside of it.)
Clearly, this six year old picture of myself is distorted—hinged upon escaping and leaving behind this burdensome vessel—my body. Somehow by casting myself into space, I imagined I would escape not only my physical form but the other taxing elements in my early life.
To think that we can isolate or put into a vacuum, for example, eating-related pathologies or excessive weight gain from the emotional, psychological, spiritual, etc—literally by removing ourselves from Earth—from what we all over experience is misguided and also, believe it or not, mass produced.
A first grader did not in an isolated chamber develop these injurious and cancerous self-images. What signals were she receiving? From where?
This age group transitions from primarily home children to full-time school children; and, thus, they are developing new reference groups and standards and evaluation tools for learning about abilities and skills.
The effects of peers (positive/negative) and other societal forces (positive/negative) on self-composition as a child reverberate--sometimes even until adulthood where one finds herself no longer holding hands at the Hayden but a quarter of a century old, disembodied and still pulling the pieces together.
Interesting study on this very topic!
In terms of the media or societal influences, examples presented in the thesis:
(1) YMCA health and fitness initiatives are discussed regarding how potentially harmful presenting a one-size fits all (mainstream cultural) approach that favors thinness and not necessarily health could be on a child's self-image.
(2) The impact of toys (ex. Barbies) in fostering dissatisfaction with one's body image
“My Body, My Weight: Body Perception Among African-American and Caucasian First-Graders and Their Parents,”
by Dawnavan Scott Davis, Master of Science, Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, October 2, 2003
Here's the abstract:
"Research suggests that body dissatisfaction can develop by first-grade...There was no main effect for race on child body ideal. No main effect emerged for gender on child body ideal or body satisfaction.
Only a few significant correlations emerged between child body image and parental factors.
Other factors such as mass media and peer group may be more salient in influencing body image among young children."
With temperatures in the triple digits in some places over the last couple of days, running 11:00am under a summer Sunday overcast sky was an immense relief. Started stretching at 9:00am. Sounds like I must have been this nibble yogi bouncing gazelle-like gracefully down Rutland Road in Brooklyn? Yes, that is what I would have wished, too. Reality check: My four year old niece, excited Auntie Shayna came to visit, slowed down the pace of my normal work out/stretching routine starting at 7:00am when she walked into the room where I was sleeping and asked me to play stuffed animals with her. I said,
“Yes, but only if I get to work out in a half hour.”
She so sweetly agreed.
Two hours later, after a back and forth about whether “Moosey the Moose” would save “Pinky the Unicorn” from the “I Love You Bear Troll,” I just got up and started stretching around the house. My niece followed.
No, really, by following, I mean she actually started mimicking excercise routines in my circuit around our sixth floor apartment.
- I stretched my hamstrings on the stairs; she did leg lifts while lying on the floor (probably derived from her Riki Di creative movement dance classes).
- I went in for the triangle side pose; she bended forward touching her toes.
- I did an arm stretch, elbows locked; she bet me that I did not know how to do “this” [a beetle squat].
Most stark was when doing the downward-facing dog [a full-body triangle stretch], she crawled underneath me and like congruent triangles—or Russian nesting dolls—folded into me, under me, with her own four year old downward-facing dog.
While there felt something ancient about that moment with her, with her--without hesitation—contorting into the next asana (yoga pose) seamlessly—like we had done this somewhere together before—I am not one to immediately say that proves yoga is innately familiar to my niece.
Or it can be explained by the burgeoning discourse in publications like Yoga Journal that includes writings that occasionally claim toddlers’ ability to achieve inner peace and calm by doing yoga.
For me, most poignantly is what power leading by example and genuine engagement holds.
Playing with my niece, honoring her desires, allowed her to without friction transition into what I chose to do. This genuine engagement reinforces trust channels between us that allowed her to follow me with remarkable confidence. This following will be remembered in her mind and body—opening up the stage for future introduction to daily wellness practices.
For a great article on whether yoga has the same reported effects on children as adults from one family’s story, click on the following link:
Downward-facing Dog for the Diaper Set
“While the children didn’t seem noticeably more chilled out in the end, yoga did amuse them and introduce them to a practice they can use to de-stress when they’re older. ”
After my run around the track at Betsy Head Memorial Playground in Brownsville, I cooled down and headed on the Fort Hamilton Parkway to my new fav eatery: Cebu Brooklyn.
Sat outside to what felt like a Parisian or European styled bistro. The people were beautiful and the overcast created a slow motion effect as folks meandered along South Brooklyn as not to exert any unnecessary energies during a heat wave.
In an exercise in being present, I let my eyes roam to everything blowing: The veranda, the napkin, the summer dresses, the pieces of trash. This added to the slow moving bodies, I felt like I was in some artsy, black and white, silent film. I had a blast under overcast.
@ Cebu Brooklyn (83rd & 3rd Av):
● Lunch - Warm Spinich Salad: pancetta, onions, mushrooms, crumbled Goat cheese, walnuts, herb vinaigrette
● Cocktail - St. German Elderflower Liqueur, fresh lemon juice and gin (Martin Miller's)
● Water with lemon
This Wellness blog is to share the author's trials and triumphs in becoming more present and centering her daily routines around health practices that build from the inside out.
It is her hope to spark dialogue and resource sharing as well as encouragement for those newly embarking on their journey toward healing all over.
(This is a personal blog with resources for educational purposes only.)