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This is a post written by Dr. Mark Atkinson, head of The Bulletproof Training Institute, an Elephant partner
—we’re honored to work with anyone this dedicated to helping us discover and embrace our true nature.
~ Ed.


Imagine you took all your clothes off, stood in front of a full-length mirror, looked at your naked body from head to toe, and breathed deeply—what do you think would happen?

Even better, actually do this and find out for yourself…

Most of us—and by that I mean nearly every single one of us—either can’t or don’t want to do it, and those of us who can face the challenge will feel any combination of shame, embarrassment, judgment, criticism, fear, anger, anxiety, tension, discomfort, contraction, disgust, heaviness, or inability to truly focus on our reflection.

Why is it so many of us can’t look at our own body with ease and appreciation? And what is the antidote to this epidemic of self-rejection?

looking for self-love? enrol to be unlimited, starting March 17th

From Immature Ego to Mature Ego

The negativity we feel toward our body arises from the immature ego. Our inability to experience deep peace and ease with our body (and the unfolding moment) is the inevitable consequence of perceiving our body (and reality) through the lens of the immature ego.

The ego is the sense of being a separate self. It’s who we think we are. It’s a programmed mental construct operating within all of us. We start life with an immature version of ego and through a willingness to face reality, be courageous, feel deeply, reflect, receive support, and engage in self-knowledge focused practices, the ego progressively evolves into a healthier, more functional, mature version.

But the actions and decisions of most of us “adults” are directed by an ego that is still psychologically immature. In other words, most biological adults are still children, psychologically. That’s a problem for the individual (it leads to suffering, dissatisfaction, addictions, and bad decisions), a problem for the community (because these grown children regurgitate their unconsciousness onto those around them), and a problem for society (because society needs psychologically mature people to responsibly steer the functioning and evolution of community and culture).

If we are honest with ourselves, we can quickly work out which level of development our ego is at:

The immature version of ego resists the bodily experience of reality: think, do I distract myself or attempt to avoid what I am experiencing? The mature version welcomes the bodily experience of reality (bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts).

The immature ego is tense, fearful, blaming, agitated, judgmental, avoidant, dramatic, reactive, and controlling. The mature version is at ease, grateful, open, engaged, caring, responsive, accepting, and allowing.

The immature version is focused on me. The mature version is focused on we.

And whilst the idea of accepting and embracing our bodily experience of reality sounds like passivity, it is actually the master key to unlocking unfathomable depth, power, insight, and connection.

This essential process of developing a healthy, integrated, psychologically mature ego, in human development terms is called self-actualization or growing up.

It is both challenging and liberating.

From Mature Ego to Aware Presence

ready for transformation? Sign up, starting march 17th

So, whilst we are busily focused on becoming better human beings (self-actualization), many of us simultaneously wake up to a deeper level of truth—beyond the everyday sense of a separate self. We come to discover we are not our ego (immature or mature version).

We are not our mental chatter, the voice in our head. We are the aware, open, loving presence within which the ego operates and its mental chatter flows. This process of remembering our true nature is called self-transcendence or waking up. The ego doesn’t make awakening happen—this process simply unfolds.

The ego’s choice (because it has free will) is to either co-operate or resist the waking up process. Choice leads to consequence. Resistance increases suffering and tension, co-operation increases ease and flow. Each of us chooses.

Allow me to share an experiential taste of Aware Presence, through a practice I teach called Centering:

Try it. It only takes 15 seconds, and can be revelatory:

(Watch out for any story in your head attempting to distract from doing this. If that arises, simply notice it, smile, and do the practice anyway.)

1. With no effort or trying, but with openness and curiosity, close your eyes and smile.

2. Set the intention to welcome whatever experience arises.

3. Place a hand on your lower abdomen and count, silently or out-loud, down from 5 to 1, whilst relaxing and softening your belly.

4. Allow your awareness to drop into your belly and remain there, breathing gently.

5. Without moving the awareness back to your head, gently open your eyes, and observe without thinking.

Notice what has happened to the mind chatter. Notice how engaged you are in the present moment. Notice how centered and grounded in your body you feel.

If your awareness dropped from head to belly, you would almost certainly have experienced a sense of being more alert, aware and alive, centered and connected. This is Aware Presence. Notice how the felt experience of it is vastly different to perceiving from the head.

Aware Presence is who you are.

From Body Rejection to Body Presence

Bearing all this in mind, I want to introduce a simple process for transforming body rejection to body acceptance. The whole body acceptance process I teach leads to a taste of awakened consciousness.

By engaging with the practice, you can discover for yourself, through your own experience, what it is like to rest in the loving acceptance of your body, and with further practices, loving acceptance of reality, or what is.

The shift from rejection to acceptance provides new foundations for being in the world in a way that is more present, allowing, and open. When you extend the same acceptance process to everything that arises within your bodily felt experience, you discover something truly miraculous: what you seek is who you are.

The love, connection, fulfillment, aliveness, meaning, intimacy, peace, and joy you seek (usually in things, people, possessions, and experiences) comes into your direct experience when you relate to your experiences with a radical sense of acceptance, openness, and allowingness. Of course, don’t just take my word for it, discover it for yourself:

want to meet your greatest self? enroll today

A Whole Body Acceptance Primer

The practice to release the blocks to whole body acceptance is aptly called Releasing.

1. Chose any part of your body that you do not accept completely.

2. Bring it clearly to mind, and close your eyes.

3. Notice where tension, heaviness, or contraction is located in your body in relation to that part. It’s usually in the abdomen, heart, throat, or head.

4. Let go of the image of that body part and focus instead (with soft eyes) on the tension.

5. Say to it silently, “I see you. I accept you.”

6. Get a sense of where that trapped energy wants to flow? Trust—it knows. It tells you. Does it want to go up, down, or straight out of your body?

7. Allow it to flow, without effort or trying. If it feels stuck, gently massage that area.

8. Get a sense of where it wants to exit your body. Where does it want to come out? Head, eyes, nose, mouth, hands, feet? It could be anywhere.

9. Allow that previously stuck energy to flow out completely.

10. Once it does, bring back to mind the body part, breathe deeply. Where does the tension arise now?

Repeat the Releasing process, until you bring to mind the body part and you feel open, loving, and alive. Feeling numb or okay means the process is incomplete. If so, no problem—just repeat Releasing until you are completely at peace and at ease with the body part.

This works 100% of the time. The key is no effort, trying, tension, forcing, or rushing.

Be spacious, allowing, and trusting of the process.

You will know when you have released the blockage to whole body acceptance because you will be resting in the unmistakable experience of loving Aware Presence. You have just bestowed to yourself a blessing.

And this is just the start…

Dive deeper into the process of self-actualization and self-transcendence with my 5-week online personal development course:

Be Unlimited, starting today! enroll now

{Course starts March 17th, use the code “YOURFUTURE” at checkout to get a $100 discount}


Author: Dr. Mark Atkinson
Editor: Khara-Jade Warren


The Elephant Ecosystem

Every time you read, share, comment or heart you help an article improve its Rating—which helps Readers see important issues & writers win $$$ from Elephant. Learn more.

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Dr. Mark Atkinson

Dr. Mark Atkinson, MBBS, BSc (HONS), FRSPH is an internationally-renowned integrative medicine physician, human potential teacher and Head of the Bulletproof Training Institute. Mark received his medical degree from the Imperial College School of Medicine in London, UK. His published books include The Mind/Body Bible, Holistic Health Secrets for Women and True Happiness – Your Complete Guide to Emotional Health. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Public Health, Fellow of the American Institute of Stress and founder Member of the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine. Connect with him on his website.