Before Tantra came on the scene, most of the main religions were not body positive at all.
An example is body mortification within Catholicism: "Those who belong to Christ have crucified nature, with all it's passions, all it's impurities." (Galatians 5:24).
Or the Buddhist practices of meditating on how disgusting one's own body is, with that hope that if you don't like your body, you are less likely to reincarnate and get stuck in one next time.
Yoga also started as a dualistic path. The idea was that humans and the rest of the natural realm are separated from the promise of eternal bliss because of our gross animal nature. Yoga was a way to transcend the trap of physical reality, to 'become enlightened' and transcend this world for something higher and more 'Godly'.
The ancient Goddess and Earth Religions understood the sacredness of the body; they worshipped nature and embraced the cycles of birth, life and death. They saw beauty in the bloody mess of menstruation, sex, birth and death.
Tantra bought these world-views together. There was a deep reverence for the Feminine Mysteries; they understood the Goddess as embodied divinity- living as creation. They used the body as a divine vehicle for merging with the transcendent, the un-manifest. Their journey was one of going through the Mother, to reach the Father. They realised there is only One.
A main tenant of and one of the most beautiful aspects of the Tantric path is the notion of Transfiguration. 'Trans'- means 'beyond'- so transfiguration is seeing 'beyond the figure'- seeing the divine nature inherent in every single thing.
"Everything I see is nothing less than God."
"Everything around me is a manifestation of the Divine in form."
What a stunning way to live your life!
The beauty of the natural world is for many people a window into a peak state. I know I'm not the only one who has gazed out to sea, watched a sunset or stared up at the stars and had tears stream down their cheeks- experiencing a mini-awakening, a glimpse into the true nature of reality.
Tantric practitioners make this part of daily life. A beautiful teacher of mine- Les Dyer, was talking about Sacred Space. He told me that his local rubbish tip is Sacred Space, because to him, nothing exists that is not part of God / Cosmic Consciousness / Great Spirit. There is nothing that can be excluded.
So here is the practice: when you get served at the shop by someone rude, on the day when you especially needed a little bit of kindness, remember that God just served you.
When your partner is short with you and you're about to snap back at them, remember that God stands in front of you.
We have a transfiguration practice where we make a circle, those who want to hold the masculine energy sit in a big middle circle facing outwards, and those who want to hold the feminine energy sit before them. For 2 minutes we gave into each other's eyes and meditate on the concept that this person is a manifestation of Shiva (God) and Shakti (Goddess), then a bell rings and the outer circle moves to the next person and we continue all night until we get back to our original spot.
I invite you to use a version of this practice as a powerful meditation that among other things, will help you to feel extremely beautiful.
Stand in front of a mirror, (either a face mirror or stand naked in front of a full length mirror), close your eyes for a few moments and meditate on your own divinity. If this seems hard to do, remind yourself that if Cosmic Consciousness is truly 'All that Exists', i.e. if you really believe in 'Oneness', and out of the formless Oneness came all of creation- then logic suggests that nothing can exist that is not Divine. To remove yourself from this equation would be the height of arrogance.
When you feel this truth in your heart, open your eyes and look into your own pupils.
Meditation upon yourself in this moment without going into story.
See; 'Who you Really Are'.
I suggest that you might find nothing less than the miracle of life staring back at you!
Feel the Oneness with Everything That Is. Really experience deeply the truth that this exquisite moment presents to you. Hold your own gaze without blinking too much. After a few minutes, it is not unusual to have tears come. To really see yourself- your beauty, without the usual judging or stories about 'you' as a person and to see beyond can be a truely touching experience.
Another common experience is that your face might start to morph (we speculate that perhaps you are seeing ancestors or past lives?). Just notice if this happens and continue the practice.
Your body is finite- in fifty years or so (if you're lucky) you have to return in and merge back into the Oneness...
But right now, you stand here as an expression of Divine Consciousness in form. Your body is a precious gift; loaned for a short time so that God can have an experience of forgetting that He is Everything, and therefore is able to experience Herself. See beyond the figure into your magnificent divinity.
Celebrate for a moment... use your hands to feel yourself, or watch as you make small movements and marvel at the fact that you live, breath, cry, pray and feel.
Try this with dedication for 3-5 minutes every day for a week and I promise that you will start to feel so beautiful that others will comment and the way you experience your life will change.