What does self love mean? And how do we practice self love? In many ways, but ultimately by honouring that deep connection to your soul and the message it sends to you in the form of desires, ambition, curiosity, and intuition.
We can practice self love by listening to the loving and intelligent voice of our intuition, the one that produces inspired ideas, drives us to take action in our highest good and helps us to recognise our truth. Self love is acknowledging and then ignoring the ego, the (self) judgmental one that expects perfection, sabotages, and talks us taking actions that will demonstrate our care for ourself. The voice of intuition is one of love and oneness - if the thoughts are not reflections on this, then they are of the ego.
It's easy to give lip service to the term, we can tell ourselves we are practising self love...but some habits that deny that love can be so habituated that we fail to see them as an act of, dare I say it, self harm. These habits can show up all over the place.
Habits like: not drinking enough water, sleeping through the alarm that we set when we promised ourselves we would get up to excersize. Shaking off our meditation/yoga practice. Habituated workaholism without boundaries, and not valuing your needs for space and time. Habitual judgement of our bodies and the bodies of others. It can show up as perfectionism and the need to control situations and people of which you really have no control over. It can be saying yes to more than you know you can handle because you don't want to offend anyone. It can be staying in toxic relationships, jobs and living conditions. It may look like not moving your body in ways it wants to move. It may turn up as flat out self abuse in the form of drugs, gambling, and extreme overeating. However it manifests, it's important to remember - you have the ability to change your relationship to yourself...in fact, it's you and you alone. Not your yoga teacher, not your therapist, not your partners or families. It is our very own responsibility to be loving and kind to ourselves first, then others will follow our lead - not the other way around.
When we practice self love, we fuel our body with healthy food, but also don't forget to indulge our senses and enjoy the sensual pleasures of life. We commit to practices that make us feel good such as yoga, creative projects, movement, meditation - not because we should, but because we want to honour our soul.
Self love is listening and responding to your truth, and no one else's. It is taking full responsibility for your "stuff" and not projecting it onto others so you can see it, and heal it. Self love is being mindful of the inner and dialogue, speaking and thinking loving, positive, and constructive thoughts about yourself. Life is full of enough challenges without us adding the extra pressure of the inner critic.
What to do when the critic kicks in? Avoid suppressing it for starters, it will only make it stronger and give it more power. A simple and profound practice is to see/hear the words, and then in place of them announce internally or out loud if you like- "I acknowledge those thoughts, but I am choosing love" and go ahead and replace the negativity with positivity. If you are working with this practice, remember not to beat yourself up if the thoughts get away on you, because in all likelihood they will. What's important is to be AWARE of the thoughts, then you can set your intention to rewire the unconscious programming.
If you would like to work on the practice of self love with me, I'd love to see you in a yin yoga class - because Yin yoga is the ultimate physical form of self love! Or perhaps a one on one kinesiology treatment to help you to get to the underlying and powerful believes that prevent you being in your divine birthright of true self love.
The gift of self love is a one we can choose to give ourselves moment to moment, thought by thought. Are you open to receiving this precious gift?