“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it” - Rumi
My self-love journey has been, and continues to be a challenging, rewarding and soul-enhancing practice. Looking back at myself as a young woman I had little love for myself. My journey into healing my heart has spanned 20 years, 6000 miles, and two continents to ultimately find my soul path and to discover who I am truly am.
Today, I accept myself for who I am and I try to love myself unconditionally. It hasn’t been easy but the rewards are immense. So immense that I am sharing them with you.
What is self-love? And how do we cultivate it in everyday life?
In many cultures and beliefs, we’re taught that self-love is selfish. Unless we have enlightened parents, we’re not taught of the importance of self-love. It’s certainly not taught in school, in Girl Scouts, or by our soccer coaches. It is something that we as humans need to discover alone.
As everything in this life is relative and connected to individual interpretation, Self love can have many different meanings. To me it means being affectionate and lovingly kind toward myself. It can also mean just being who I am and not striving to make people like me.
But awakening self-love from me wasn’t easy since I was constantly putting myself under pressure to attend to social needs such as: having the perfect weight, grades, the perfect job. And I am sure that you may identify yourself in my words, because the dynamic of our society relates to living a life in an eternal cycle of seeking the perfection, and what I found out is that connecting with myself and becoming my true me was a choice that only I could make.
It also means that I’ve learned not to expect perfection from myself, and don’t beat myself up when I make mistakes or go off course. I’ve learned to mostly silence my inner critic.
Discovering yoga and learning to be present in the moment was a starting point for developing loving kindness toward myself. I remember the first time I tried yoga. I felt my eyes soften, my face relax and my gaze look inward. It was the first time I connected inwardly. After that, each time I came to the mat and got into a state of relaxation where my mind and body were in sync, my inner gaze was capable of going more deeply inside. For the most part it was a gentle, curious gaze but it was unchartered waters and often uncomfortable. Sometimes it was like going into a dark room with no light and I would retreat hoping I’d have the courage to come back another day. Which I did. The benefits that I experienced in my life are priceless.
The next breakthrough was a 10-day silent retreat at Spirit Rock near San Francisco where my inner gaze deepened even more and I felt close to myself in a new intriguing and intimate way. It was like being able to feel the warmth and the vigor of a little flame that had ignited in my heart center. That flame became more enduring when my therapist suggested I embark on a romantic relationship with myself. She asked me to express my love feelings for myself like I would to someone I was in love with. Of course, I was skeptical at first but decided to do it. I started to recite a self-love mantra as I went about my day. Sometimes I would say it casually standing in line at Whole Foods, and other times I would say it during my yoga practice. As the months passed, it became more natural and I started to mean it. It was like the mantra was slowly removing blocks to my awareness of love, a love for myself that had always been there. But it had become clouded over by heartbreak, loss, self-limiting beliefs and negative self-talk. It was as if my mind and body was simply remembering what it already knew so deeply.
Today, my self-love mantra is an inherent part of my day and I truly mean it from the bottom of my heart.
I love you
I will always love you
I love you no matter what you do
I will never leave you
Money can’t buy this and it can’t be taught. Self-love needs to be felt. My upcoming yoga workshop on ‘Cultivating Self Love and Compassion’ gives you the opportunity to feel loving kindness by turning kind-hearted attention inward and reconnecting with what truly matters. Deep relaxation and mind-body centering will effectively position you to help chip away at the protective shell that covers your heart. Once you tap into loving kindness toward the self, you will naturally remember this state so you can access it more readily as you go through life. Each time you do this work you take one another step closer to returning to your natural state of love.
Since there is no better time to express love than on Valentine’s weekend, I invite you to join my workshop and give this step towards a present and mindful life, by culminating self-love.
Sign up here (scroll down once this page loads).