“This above all to thine own self be true. And it must follow as the night the day, thou canst not be false to any man.”
— Shakespeare (Hamlet)
My (On-Going) Journey of Self-Love
We’ve heard it many times: “Before you can love someone else, you have to first love yourself.” I would add that before you can love yourself, you must know yourself, your dreams, your aspirations, your passions and your failings. I believe we love ourselves by staying true to the essence of who we are. Self-love is the by-product of investing time and energy to know ourselves and then making a commitment to the truth of who we are.
My journey to self-love is interwoven with my meditation journey. In 1992, after the “Rodney King” riots, my friend and I volunteered at a food bank in downtown LA where we met a fellow volunteer who invited us into his reading group. The first book we read was Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Miracle of Mindfulness.” A desire to meditate was fueled so I attended several group meditation classes in Venice. I enjoyed the experience but for the next few years I couldn’t find my way back to the cushion. Which was okay because by then I had fallen in love with yoga. And then for years after that, I thought the few minutes of meditation I did at the end of yoga class was a sufficient meditation practice. During this time my self-love work was relegated to my therapist’s office and self-help reading. I made slow, but consistent progress for many years.
Then more than a decade later, during my tenure as Chief Financial Officer of an entertainment studio, my life hit “rock-bottom.” To say I was stressed is an understatement. My skin erupted in acne breakouts, I couldn’t sleep without two glasses of wine, I was spending maniacally online and had frequent panic attacks. My life felt out of control. It wasn’t the life I wanted, the life I had promised myself. Somewhere I had lost track of who I was and what I deeply desired. I was working long hours for a big paycheck so I could live in a nice home and send my daughter to private school. But I was miserable. I needed a change. A BIG change. A transformational experience. What could I do to love myself again?
As it happened, I passed a flyer for yoga teacher training. It had always been a dream of mine to take my yoga practice to the level of a certified teacher. The certification program took one weekend a month for six months. The daily weekend courses started at 4 am and ended at 7 pm, four days in a row. (Yes, I would have to get up at 3 am!) Since I cherished my sleep, was a wife, a mother of two and worked a full-time, 60+ hours a week job, I thought, “This insane program will practically guarantee that I have a transformational experience!” l signed-up.
The transformational experience didn’t come in the way I expected and I didn’t have to wait six months to have it. As part of the teacher-training program we had to meditate for 11 minutes a day, forty days in a row. They say in Kundalini yoga that it takes 40 days to replace a negative habit with a positive one, or more succinctly, “Your habits define you.” If we missed a day of meditating, we had to start the whole sequence over again. MEDITATION transformed my life.
“From this profound stillness, we can recognize ourselves, love ourselves and accept and love the entire creation.”
— Yogi Bhajan
Meditating those 40 days in a row empowered and expanded my love of self. In fact, I had enough self-love that I could say to my husband, “In January I am quitting my job. From then on I am never going to work for a paycheck. We may have to sell the house and move but I am no longer living a life that is not mine.” My husband – bless him – agreed.
Two of my favorite stories of people who were uncompromising in living their truth are:
SLOMO is about a successful neurologist who recognizes he is a miserable excuse for a person and turns his life around in a totally unique way.
In “The Record Breaker,” I am certainly inspired by the number of records that Ashrita Furman has broken, but I am even more impressed by how he embraced his personal truth, even if it meant disappointing his parents. (That’s a hard one!)
In reflecting on the topic of “self-love” I was reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Eat Pray Love.” After leaving an unhappy marriage she travels the world to eat, pray and love and in doing so, finds her truth. Most of us can’t pick up and travel the world for a few months on a quest to find ourselves. But a daily meditation practice can be the key to recognizing ourselves, our truth.
I enjoyed this honest TED talk Elizabeth gives to remind us that we are going to experience success and failure in this life but the one thing that needs to be constant is living our truth.
Finally, when you commit to the journey of self-love, people will feel and appreciate that love and will trust that you can love them, too. You will find that loving people are attracted to you. Here’sone of my favorite videos about attraction.
In this month of February commit to romancing someone you just met, or your partner or, most importantly, yourself. Keep the love flowing and remember: You can be too thin and too rich but you can never have enough self-love. Or at least it still remains to be disproven.
Conscious Good’s Creators’ Network
Want to chat with other like-minded creatives about self-love or something else that has been on your mind? Now you can! The Creators’ Network brings Conscious Creators together to fuel the Conscious Media Movement. We want to encourage a whole new breed of filmmakers, marketers, producers, programmers and artists, to put conscious raising at the core of their storytelling. So, sign up today!
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