Learning to love yourself as you are NOW takes practice. For me, it has been a life-long practice. If you can relate, this blog post may offer a few new ideas for you to try. I’m sharing with you the 3 most effective things I do on a consistent basis that help me cultivate love and compassion toward myself. I’ve experimented with many modalities that have helped me on my journey---counseling, EMDR, physics, astrologers and energy clearers---but it wasn’t until I explored the practices within the yoga world that I experienced more lasting inner peace and contentment. FULL DISCLOSURE: these practices need to be done regularly. In fact, when I catch myself feeling down it’s usually because I have skipped my self-care rituals for a few days. This reinforces to me that these practices really do work and, therefore, are most effective when incorporated in my daily life. The 3 specific yoga practices I use to manifest selflove include ahimsā (specifically how it relates to compassion and kindness towards self), santosha (contentment) and dhāranā meditation (focused concentration):
1 - Set an intention to love yourself
When you set your mind to something the universe conspires to bring your desire to you. So, I created a special meditation ritual specifically designed to manifest selflove. I invite you to make this meditation a beautiful experience for you---treat yourself like you are treating a loved one---which is the point. Think how it makes your loved one feel when you pamper them and make them feel so special. Well, do the same for yourself!
Here’s what I’d like you to try: Carve out about a 30-minute window, create a peaceful place for you to meditate that includes a comfortable cushion to sit on, a soft blanket to keep you warm and your favorite scented candle. Include healing crystals and gemstones that evoke a positive sense of self-worth and selflove. Opalite, Rose Quartz, and Malachite are known for activating these heart-centered energies. Rose Quartz, which is well-known for its love properties, is especially powerful for nurturing compassion and self-love. Whichever healing stones you choose, place them in front of you or hold one or all of them your hand during your meditation.
Next download the Insight Timer app to use as your timer (it’s free). Set the timer to the sound of soothing bells or chimes that go off 3 times during your meditation: at the beginning, then again after 5 minutes (I will explain later) and at end your practice.
Once your meditation space is set up and you are seated in a comfortable position (read here to find a position that works best for you) follow this lovely meditation technique:
- Mentally set your intention to cultivate love and appreciation of yourself.
- For the 1st 5 minutes of your meditation, repeat a mantra silently to yourself over and over. Choose a mantra like “I am enough” or “I am love” or another one that resonates with you. Repeating a mantra during meditation is known as dhāranā, or focused concentration, which helps still the mind.
- After the 5-minute bell chimes, let go of your mantra and simply meditate for the remaining 20 minutes. Keep your attention on your breath, follow the inhales and exhales. When your mind gets distracted, gently guide it back to your breath---this is a practice of being compassionate to yourself. Instead of reacting with frustration or anger towards yourself because your mind has drifted, you simply acknowledge that your mind drifted and return your focus back to your breath without judgement. You are treating yourself with kindness and compassion, embodying ahimsā, the practice of not harming.
- When the final bell rings gently open your eyes and just notice how you feel. Write down any thoughts or feelings that arise in your journal.
Note: I realize that you may not have the time to do a 30-minute meditation every day. That’s okay. Even a 15-minute sit has powerful benefits. Do what you can and remember that the key is to stay consistent.
2 - Flip the narrative
This is a practice of speaking kindly to oneself and has been a huge help for me. I used to talk so negatively to myself. All this does is activate destructive energy which distracts you from creating the life you really want---it makes you feel bad about yourself and your life. I remember one day I realized that this type of thinking was making me so miserable and I was so fed up that I shouted to myself: shut up! (I was driving alone in my car, so no one heard me!)
That’s when I realized that it was time for me to stop and flip my self-narrative and to talk to myself in a kind and uplifting way---the ahimsā way! The first step to practice ahimsā is to be aware of how you talk to yourself. Are you supportive, kind and encouraging---like you are to a friend? Or are you negative and judgmental, or even mean to yourself? Why is it that we can be so hard on ourselves? Once you have identified how you talk to yourself, then you can set the intention to flip the narrative. You will be able to catch yourself in a negative rant and redirect your thoughts to more compassionate and constructive ways of treating yourself. My go-to is to simply repeat the word love over and over. Then I will mentally list things that I’m grateful for in my life right now. This pivots my mindset to view the situation more positively which makes the day look brighter or the situation more hopeful. It’s easier for me to do this now, because I’ve been practicing this for a few years and this consistent mindset has made a positive shift in my overall happiness.
3 - Find the joy
Do you have days when you feel that there was nothing about your day that you really enjoyed? That you are just going through the motions? Sometimes we are so focused on completing our to-do list (please tell me I’m not the only who does this) that we forget to stop and enjoy what we are doing. It’s important to find the contentment (santosha) in our lives. Not just in what we are actually doing, but to cultivate appreciation for our lives as well as for life. Take breaks to enjoy the little things in life---the beautiful sound of the birds singing outside your window, or take a break for lunch and really taste and enjoy your food. Life gets busy and it is easier if we allow ourselves to get swept up in it. But it doesn’t have to be that way! We can make a conscious effort to step back, slow down and find the joy in our lives. But we have to make joy the priority. We can still have the same outcome or goals, but we can change the way we get there which includes experiencing pleasure and joy in the process. Besides, when you are trying too hard to get something done and are forcing things to happen---they don’t happen as easily, and more importantly, as well as we’d like. But when you’re enjoying the process and in the flow, things magically get accomplished more easily and better than we imagined it would be.
Selflove is a critical component to living a happy and purpose-filled life. I hope the ideas I shared inspire you to take action to cultivate love and compassion towards yourself, so you are then able to spread it out into the world. Namaste.