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Appearances can be very deceptive. For most of my life, I looked at my body without realising that my vision had been infected by a kind of psychological virus. When it came to my physical form, I had lost the ability to see clearly. I could only see it through the filter of arbitrary rules about how bodies should look. It was only possible for me to see my body through the distorting lens of these judgments. By unconsciously taking on beliefs about how bodies should look from the world around me, I had unwittingly subjugated my eyesight to a poisonous and hateful ideology. 

This ideology rates and categorises bodies according to certain attributes. It also fabricates associations between these assessments and the value of the person inhabiting the body, where no such associations exist. 

If you feel upset about the way any part of your body looks, your sight has been contaminated by this ideology. You may think you are an independent thinker, but in this area, you are not. Your mind has been hijacked, and your eyesight is compromised. It all happens so fast. You look at your body, compare it to a societal ideal, and have an emotional experience which reflects the perceived rating. It’s all over in the blink of an eye. We’re simply not aware of the dense layer of thought that is behind the feelings. We just feel disgusted or despondent, or if the comparison is favourable, relieved or, even excited. 

And the filter doesn’t magically disappear when we look at other people either. We might not experience the same intensity of emotional reaction when we look at other bodies, but that’s simply because we don’t consider our own wellbeing to be threatened if someone else’s body doesn’t measure up. We may pity or envy them though, depending on where we envisage they sit on the appearance hierarchy. And if they are someone we care about, we may fear for them, and worry about their ability to be happy and successful given their apparent aesthetic deficits. 

Viewing the entire human race through a toxic lens severely impairs our judgment, saps our energy, and gets in the way of healthy, productive functioning. And it also serves to reinforce the same distortions in the vision of the people we come into contact with. 

So, what to do? How do we reclaim our sight? 

I think the first step must surely be in recognising just how brainwashed we are. We can’t believe our own eyes. Think about that for a moment. When it comes to your body, your vision is no longer reliable. If you want to see your body clearly, for what it actually is – a unique and miraculous home for your soul, an essential vehicle through which you experience life – you have to recognise that your eyesight has been contaminated by unhealthy thoughts. 

And if you accept the premise that you can’t believe your eyes, the second step must surely be in finding something more reliable to invest your trust in. 

This is where our feelings come in. They can guide us in the direction of healing. When we feel hopeful, peaceful, secure, tender, loving, relaxed and free, we can trust our thoughts, and believe our eyes. But when we contract in fear, hatred, disgust, jealousy and insecurity, we can be sure that our thoughts are clouding our vision. If we feel smug and superior about our bodies in a way that separates us from others, we can also be confident that we’re being duped by our thoughts again. Our feelings are a reliable barometer for our level of clarity about our bodies at any particular time. They are our steady companion guiding us home to truth and love. 

To regain our sight, ironically we must learn to look within. By heeding the wisdom of our inner experience, we will start to see the outer world with greater clarity. The filter of judgment will fall away until all that remains is love. And when we begin to see our bodies through loving eyes, then we know that our vision has been restored. And we can once again marvel at what we see, just as we did as young children. And what a joy that is!

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