For many people the run up to Valentine’s Day can be somewhat nerve racking, as most of us try to predict how our ‘love-o-meter’ is going to fair on the day. Is my partner going to send me flowers or chocolates? Am I going to receive a card? Does anybody care? Sound familiar? Fear no more. I’m going to give you some steps to help you cultivate love for yourself and recognise the deep, powerful source of love that lies within.
The ancient Yogi’s realised that searching outside of ourselves for love is human nature and very normal (phew!), having accrued thousands of years of turning inward through meditation and spiritual study.
They discovered that the only way to find lasting happiness, joy, good health, abundance and a zest for life is to love yourself first. Loving yourself awakens you to a more peaceful, loving state and from that place you’re able to offer the same to others. Whereas, relying on external circumstances to buoy-up your ‘love-o-meter’ status really only ever leads to heart-ache.
Before we get started, I’d like to get one thing straight: The type of ‘loving yourself’ I’m talking about here isn’t about generating an air of superiority over others. Truly and honestly loving yourself means letting go of self-judgement, self-criticism and sadness so that you can open up to who you really are – great, worthy and an epitome of love. Tuning into this frequency of love puts you in a position to heal, transform and do good with your life. Isn’t that what we’re here for?
When I look around the Mum and Baby Yoga class that I teach every week, I see mums and their babies loving one-another without question. Babies are delighted to be in their bodies, as they explore every movement with great wonder, love every aspect of their mother and express their feelings (positive and negative) openly, unreservedly as and when they feel like it. They are love personified.
So what happened? When did loving and approving of ourselves wholeheartedly change and why do we find it so challenging to love ourselves when we are the same person as we were, when we were a baby? When you consider all that you’ve been through in life to bring you to this moment surely you would love yourself even more?
You’re going to have to forgive yourself here for being human. Over the years we gather impressions, perceptions, ideas and opinions which have been imposed on us to keep us safe. However, the majority of them have been negative, derived from a source of fear and/or the feeling that something is missing.
These impressions have gradually built up to create a safe, protective shell around us. While it’s cosy, comfortable and familiar within, the shell is also distorting the truth of who you really are.
If we don’t see or get to know our ‘shell’ we carry out our lives within its context, be it helpful or not, without even realising that we’re doing it.
Starting the process of ‘loving yourself’ puts cracks in our ‘shell’ and with practice, overtime it is possible to break down the barriers which prevent us from understanding who we really are, what makes us tick, what makes us feel peaceful and able live a life of fulfilment and joy.
Here are a few simple steps to help you love yourself more…
Practice Yoga or take up a Yoga class
While Yoga is a great physical practice it also has a very positive effect on the mind too. It helps you to let go of stress, shine a light on who you are, how you think and behave and ultimately open you up to your purpose in life. The philosophy of the practice also has a lot to offer in helping you accept life’s challenges and move through with a bit more ease. It’s certainly not all about touching your toes. Anyone can practice Yoga and if you can breathe you can do Yoga.
Become aware of your thoughts
Become aware of your thoughts as if you’re watching them from a far. Meditation is a great tool for putting some space between you and your thoughts. It takes practice but can be very simple – click here to check out my last blog to learn more about the benefits of meditation and some easy ways to get started.
Be willing to see differently and choose a more loving perspective
Be willing to let go of thoughts of self-criticism and judgement. We always have a choice. Choose to replace negative thoughts with a more loving perspective. Affirmations can be extremely effective. For example, if a negative thought towards yourself comes to mind say to yourself…
- I love and approve of myself
- I love myself just the way I am
- All that I seek is already within me
Be grateful – be grateful for being you, for another day, for the sky, the grass, the trees, for your family, for anything you can think of. Being grateful helps us see and enjoy what’s already around us and within us. It generates good feelings. Write a list of things you’re grateful for and refer to it often.
Let it go
Practicing forgiveness helps us to let go of old patterns of thoughts and behaviours that aren’t serving us and allows us to be present in the moment. Forgiveness helps us release resentments that we may have held onto for years.
Cultivating love for yourself is a topic very close to my heart. It can be challenging and it’s not always easy, but it’s incredible how a very subtle and simple shift in thoughts/perception towards yourself can make a huge and positive difference to your life. I hope you enjoy this blog and get something from it – if only to realise that loving yourself is actually a ‘thing’. It was a revelation to me
The healing benefits of Yoga are for everyone to enjoy and benefit from. If you’re interested in joining a Yoga class then Prana Mama Yoga’s classes take place in Daviot and Kintore (Aberdeenshire) and suitable for all levels of ability and experience. Click here to view our weekly schedule. Prana Mama Yoga is teaming up with Rona Yoga to host an evening of Yoga, ‘Yoga…and so to bed’ geared to induce a better night’s sleep at the Daviot Village Hall on Friday 23rdFebruary 2018 from 7pm. Click here for further details and a booking link.
With love to you as you love yourself more, Lis x