Move your mind, Move your body, Move your soul.
I don't really think I got all the way there in my last post about Filling the Well. I gave some ideas, some things that I have done myself to shift my energy out of a rut.
And that's good. But there is more. How do we truly love ourselves?
I mean, really.
We are hearing this message, even in US culture, often in yoga classes or at school assemblies, etc.: You have to love all of who you are: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But there is not a lot out there in terms of how. And, meanwhile, we see lot's of images and hear lots of things about the things we should be striving towards. So yoga is about connection, but Yoga Journal is all about beautiful, thin, white women. So many messages are about improvement rather than self-love and self-acceptance.
So those are two things I think deserve repeating:
- There is no guidebook on how to love ourselves
- Guidebooks that are out there indicate that we need to improve in order to love ourselves
Now, let met stop the barrage of "Oh yes there are great books out there!". Now, I have numerous books on my shelf about shining your light, loving yourself, etc -- The Desire Map, Light is the New Black, Warrior Goddess Training, The Universe Has Your Back. All of these amazing books have given me so much incredible insight and practice. And yet, here I am, still looking for the guidebook on self love.
So here's what I've come to understand about How To Love Yourself:
1. Be willing to love yourself. By this, I mean, you have to be willing to work on it. Willing to love yourself even for all of the things you don't necessarily like. Especially those things. Commit to loving all of your parts - all of the stories, bad habits, and judgmental thoughts.
One simple exercise is to take a 3x5 index card and draw the most loving, nurturing, amazing caregiver you have ever dreamed of. This could be a person, an animal, a planet, an ocean... anything. Infuse the energy of complete love, acceptance, and compassion into this piece of art. Carry it with you. Look at it as your constant support whenever you need.
2. Be conscious. If you want to love yourself, you need to be aware of when you are not. Noticing is key. Notice how you talk to yourself. Notice when you feel joy, flow, ease, and freedom. What feels good. And why. What feels not-so-good. And why.
One great, simple exercise reminds us to ask: "What do I need right now?" at various times during your day. (Some will say "what do I want ..." I feel that focusing on the need is essential!!) This practice reminds us that we have what we need inside to fulfill ourselves. We can look within to take care of our needs.
3. Express. If you are feeling crappy or noticing that you are berating yourself. Let it out. Let it go. Write, draw, dance, sing, cry, laugh. Do what you need to do to physically move your energy. Lot's of ideas - this is my favorite part (so email me if you want suggestions!).
The goal is not to stifle whatever is coming up for you. The goal is to move it towards what you want - self-love, self-acceptance, self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness during this process. Acknowledge what comes up, and be kind with yourself about why. Practice how you would respond to a friend feeling the same feelings and then relay all of that kindness onto yourself.
4. Reframe. We can't erase what has happened to us. But we can reframe with a new perspective. We can start new each day. We can start new with each breath. I really appreciated the chapter in Warrior Goddess Training that reminds us to "Align with the Flow of Life." Sometimes we get stuck in the stories we carry - the "It's not fair"s, the "If only"s, the "Things would've been better if..". Life is a whole bunch of flowing, and sometimes things don't go the way we want or on the timeline we seek.
In terms of loving ourselves, sometimes we think we will love ourselves once something exterior to us tells us we are love-able. Once I get that job, once I am a patient mom, once I am fit & beautiful... then I will be worthy of love. (See number 2 above and notice how you talk to yourself!)
Here's the thing - right now, you are love. You are worthy. You are light. You are all that you seek.
Mantras can help to clear the mind. One mantra to stimulate the intention of self love is "So Ham" (pronounced So Hum), which means "I Am (That)", intending to link you to the divine within (your highest self, the ultimate power or force, God, Spirit, the Universe). You are divine.
I hope some of the ideas are of help. You are light, and I see you.
You gotta feel it to heal it.