Before we are moving on from life in general, and look more closely at our sexual and relationship/love self, let us take a quick break and look at the body, your body. Survey after survey has shown that body image is a major problem for the modern man – of whatever sexual orientation. However, those that have looked particularly at gay men found that less than half are happy or fairly happy, and just a tiny fraction (less than 3%) are actually happy with their bodies. 81% have tried to change their body shape in a form or another, and almost 50% of gay men in one survey would die early to have a good body – and only 16% of gay men report feeling comfortable at a nudist beach. If you think about this, these numbers are truly shocking.

However, they are not really unexpected: from fashion to porn, from dating sites to going out – we are constantly being bombarded with some form of idealised body image. No wonder so few men feel uncomfortable (in varying degrees) with their bodies, or even want to change just that little bit here and there. But, as we have seen before, even small, seemingly ‘normal’ but definitely negative thoughts, tucked away in the corner of the mind, can become quite toxic.

Therefore today, the activity is to use mindfulness to caringly and with kindness look at your body and make friends with the body you have. I realise that looking at your own body is, in itself, often frowned upon or associated with vanity and narcissistic self-love. But self-delusion isn’t the aim of the activity. Instead, the focus is to reconnect with your body.

To start the activity make sure you have a bit of time to yourself. You’ll also need a small handheld mirror.

Now choose a pleasant environment: it could be your bathroom or bedroom for example. Make it a really pleasant space for this: use some candles to set the mood, or maybe some fragrant oil to make the atmosphere just like as if you would have a very hot and romantic date with someone incredibly hot whom you really want to seduce (hint: you do!).

When the scene is set, take the small mirror and start looking at yourself – first start by focusing on individual body parts. Put yourself in the mindset as if you are looking at the hot date you set everything up for. Slowly discover your body part by part through the mirror. Using mindfulness techniques, take a good look at your different body parts: admire and caress the different parts of your body. Be compassionate about each part you see and focus on the positive of this body part.

Once you have seen all parts of your body individually through the mirror, look at the whole you: see yourself glowing in the candle light. This is your hot date!

Be mindful during this activity that negative emotions or thoughts may appear. If they do, acknowledge the feelings and use mindfulness to shift your thoughts back gently to looking at yourself compassionately and with kindness. If the negative feelings persist take a short break, and use mindfulness techniques to examine your feelings.

Finally, once you have looked at yourself, and given yourself space to admire and caress yourself, thank yourself for the company.

I have tried this exercise with many people before. And many people find it very embarrassing or even strange. If this happens to you, stick with the exercise – don’t avoid looking at you. The vast majority of people who completed the exercise found it extremely empowering, even and especially if they hesitated at first. I hope you find this exercise equally empowering and it reconnects you with the most important person in your life. If it does, why not share your feelings? Use the comment function below – or tweet using #ug30bc … See you tomorrow, when we are going to get sexual!

Day 23: You are beautiful: Body Image
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