I attend a lot of yoga classes where we are encouraged to love ourselves. Entire themes of classes are constructed around this basic premise.
Honor yourself. Love yourself. Connect with yourself.
Here is a truth-speaking moment: I used to do a little bit of an internal eye roll on "loving yourself" when I first started practicing. Maybe not a little eye roll. Maybe a pretty big one. And maybe it wasn't always internal.
Right. LOVE myself. Check. I’ll get right on that. And what is that supposed to mean? How does one go about actively doing that? Give myself a big hug as I step from one pose to another?
As it turns out – no. I started to examine why this whole concept made me so uncomfortable, and why it triggered such a response in me. Ultimately, it was that I felt that it was a very self-centered and internally focused idea. But I was selling it short.
Here’s the secret (for me at least) – do little things for just you as steps towards loving yourself. It works. I am a BETTER person when I love myself, and do small things that make a big difference. I am more open to other people. I am in a better place to love others, to help others, and to interact with the world. I am a more productive employee at work. I am a better wife.
Pete Guinosso often uses this quote from the Buddha in class: “You, as much as anyone else in the whole universe, deserve your love and affection.”
To those of you eye-rolling right now – I TOTALLY get it. I honor the eye rolling. But please try it. Don’t wait as long as I did.
It happened slowly, and is still a process that I am cultivating, but here are some things that I have done on the journey to love myself that have made a big difference, and why:
- Yoga (as a priority). Loving myself was finding space for something that made me joyful. What is your yoga? Is it running? reading? doing a crossword? Honor it and make it a priority.
- Turning off the stimulus (and the TV). I am definitely not in the market for a new home, yet I was watching some serious House Hunters - just for the company. Silence is a beautiful, peaceful thing. And without the temptation of a TV in the bedroom, I fall asleep faster and sleep better. Better sleep = better Abbie! See the next love.
- Better Sleep. I decided to be honest with myself about how much sleep I need to be at my best. It can't be every night, but it can be a goal. Most nights, I need 7-8 hours. When I get 8, I think more clearly, make better decisions, and I'm less likely to be cranky (which my husband certainly appreciates). Also, I'm better in the morning - so no more crazy nights up until midnight working. I'm better at 5am after some sleep.
- More Music. I replaced my TV time with soothing music. When I'm tempted to hit the internet when I don't need it, I turn on my iPod, or pandora. It brings me calm. Maybe it's rap for you. Whatever works. Listen.
- Feeding my body. By taking as little as 10 minutes a day to THINK through what I am going to eat, I eat better than I ever have before. Packing better snacks, losing the sugar, and adding the greens - makes me feel better and fuels me. That's loving my body in a big way. And I promise you it isn't costing me that much more.
- Finding peace with my shape. It's so easy, right? Of course it isn't. But everyday is a chance to start fresh and find new peace. I don't have to weigh 115 pounds. I am never going to be 5'7. But we can all find something to be proud of in our bodies. Your smile, muscle definition, feeling strength in your legs.
- Giving. Time. Talent. Treasure. If we can give of these three things, we share the love. And that's the point. Love yourself so that you have the ability to give it away. It can be as little as a dollar, as big as an afternoon.
- Choosing Gratitude. We wake up every single day not knowing if it is our last day on earth. It's just the truth. We can live in fear at this notion - or we can embrace the gift of every moment. It is a miracle to simply breathe. Being grateful for little things adds up to a very happy heart. A heart that can love big.
And just in case you won't be getting to a yoga class with a self-loving theme today - I'll ask you myself:
How will you love yourself today?