These days, there’s a lot of talk about “self-love.”
It’s just as rare to see two full moons in the night sky as is it is to walk down the street, or into a cafe or supermarket, and not catch a glimpse of a shiny phrase (often rainbow-colored with an accompanying unicorn) like “follow your bliss,” or “peace, love, and happiness,” or “love yourself.“
While these concepts can serve as sweet, little reminders to slow down—enjoy the next sip of tea to the fullest, or smile at a stranger while in the longest grocery line of our life—it can also seem like another cheap new-age ploy. Something that is trying to sell a service, coerce us to buy an entire line of herbal diffusions, or promote a yoga retreat far away from home.
To be clear, many of the health and wellness programs out there are wonderful—gifts and tools offered by sincere professionals to assist a person’s healing journey. The word yoga means union or to yoke one’s smaller, limited ego-self with the higher, infinite Self—capital S. The yoga tradition offers tools through meditation and breath work that invite a practitioner to go beyond the reliance of materialistic pleasures and ask, “What Self Am I wanting to feed?”
Based on conditioning and past experiences, the ego likes to annoyingly tell us:
“What’s the point in changing?” or
“Just buy half the online store and you’ll feel fine.”
When this happens we can take a moment and remember what really matters and who we really are—which is boundless, limitless joy. And like gratitude, the more its practiced the more it shows up unexpectedly. Sometimes the call to start putting Self-love into play can come when a friend says, “I understand what you are going through, but how about you try taking care of yourself now, like you would a baby.”
Even an experienced yoga practitioner, who has already submitted to a few hundred child’s poses in yoga class and established a consistent meditation practice with positive lifestyle changes, may still have no clue how to put this in to play.
Like the baby who stumbles on bare soles while learning how to walk, Self-love is also taking a shoeless walk. It may be to rediscover a forest, or just around the block when you need air. It’s leaning up against a tree to whisper out secrets or resting a tired head on a soft green mossy bed. Self-love is allowing time before bed to write out what makes you happy in life and filled with complete joy. It could sweep in on the form of chanting, ecstatic dance, or volunteering time to a cause that works on liberating all sentient beings, like an animal sanctuary. Self-love is ultimately what connects us all as one.
Compassion is a flower that grows in love— for God, a lover’s eyes, or sunset. Love is the key that awakens compassion.
Love is the journey taken to re-member who we really are. Being in community with kind, like-minded, and supportive people can absolutely empower great change—both inner and outer—and stir inspiration.
Communities can be a playground for Self-love to express itself in the world and we can share these experiences with gratitude. A sense of community can further cultivate the power of love by respecting each individual’s unique contribution. Sometimes our community can also offer opportunities to realize how many barricades we have built against love.
When a community is unkind, judgmental, and disrespectful, we can recall the child born from having practiced Self-love. The one who reaches out to be caught, adored, and offers love in return.
Having committed to a life long relationship with love itself could be a sure way to replace any disease contagion by sending it out with love and compassion