You’ve probably heard people say, “Learn to love yourself!” or, “You need to love yourself more!”
I thought that they knew something about me that I didn’t. That somehow my behavior was revealing a truth about a flaw that they could see that I could not. I thought it meant that I didn’t love myself enough.
Really, I didn’t know what “love yourself” meant.
I’ve decided that for me it means devotion to my upliftment.
I returned to yoga practice a few months ago, after scaring myself with a fall and hurting my leg and severely aggravating previously dormant sciatica. The yoga was intended to stretch the pain out of my body.
At first the decision to practice yoga was a reaction to pain: a necessity. But soon I noticed a shift in my attitude and approach to it.
The yoga solved the pain problems pretty quickly. But by then I noticed, in a way I had not experienced before, that it felt good to stretch my body first thing in the morning. Really good.
Oh, don’t get me wrong. It pulled, it pinched, it creaked, it snapped. (Still does.) Those were not uplifting sounds.
But something new developed in my experience. I began to feel present in the movement and in the moment with my body. I found that giving my attention to my body, devoting to my body’s improvement was something I was actually looking forward to every day. It was, and is, a mind-body-spirit connection.
I’ve practiced yoga off and on for 25 years, but it had always been with the intention of, or the perspective of, someone else’s idea of what’s good for me. “You should…” in order to lose weight, to tighten my butt, to counter-act my self-destructive habits, like drinking gallons of Diet Coke a day. But with that have-to mindset, it eventually, and usually quickly, became a chore. Now I really look forward to my yoga first thing in the morning. I’m doing it only because it feels good.
I feel uplifted in this devotion. This feels like self-love.
Other ways in which I devote myself with an act of love is eating foods that feel good going in and through my body; noticing my thoughts and catching limiting decisions or negative thoughts and reversing them so that I feel better and more resourceful. I show love for myself by expressive myself in these blogs. Loving myself by expressing and exchanging ideas with my friends. Laughing with my friends.
How do you express love for yourself? How do you devote your time and attention to yourself in an expression of love and compassion and kindness?