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To Thine Own Self Be Loving

A few years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea of “Loving Myself.”   That has changed.

It would seem many of us have bought into the notion that self-loathing is a more socially acceptable way of being in life than loving.  In fact “loving oneself” may been seen as a New Agey, woo woo concept.  Or, worse yet, narcissistic. (Yeah, you..  You think you’re all that…)

Yet, we’ve prefered to buy into the idea that the sole purpose of mirrors (both internal and external) are to pick away at ourselves in order to count all of the aspects we “lack.”  Rather than seeing an object of beauty, we  see we lack the fitness, the lack of weath, the lack of youth, the lack of success, the lack of perfect hair, the lack of baby-smooth skin, blah, blah, blah.  We measure ourselves against an ideal of beauty and success that sets us us for feeling less than.   We buy into the media, buy the products, expect instant results, look outside to the so-called “experts” to “fix” us.   We believe the answer lies somewhere out there….. when in fact, it lies within.  How can we or why should we realistically compete with images that are the farthest reflection of truth????  I mean, really… Us against Photoshop? Pleaase… Time to cut ourselves some slack.

What if I told you that you lack nothing?  You are complete: beautiful, creative, resourceful and whole. (I hear you scoffing already…)  I spent the greater part of my adult life believing I was broken, needed an “other” to complete me, a fake – you name the lack, I owned it.  I would roll in these notions like a dog rolls pleasurably in cow dung.  That is no longer true.  I am enough, just as I am.

Discovering that you are enough is a practice, a discipline.  Discipline for many is a pejorative term.  It conjures images of punishment, lack of flexibility and kindness.  This is the furthest thing from the truth.

The following is a simple list to guide you on your path to loving yourself, loving your life and others within it:

1.     You Are What You Eat:

Waking up in the morning with an msg hangover from eating too many chips and dip is an indication you are off track.  I should know.  Chips and dip are my achilles heel when I am most stressed out about life.  Be mindful of what you eat .   Are you truly eating well?  Plan your meals – Here, the old adage holds true: fail to plan, plan to fail…..  A sure sign that self-care is falling to the bottom of your priority list….

Is this truly hunger or thirst?  Has your ex taken up residence in the recesses of your fridge?  Thirst is often masked as hunger.  Sometimes a drink of good old purified water will do the trick.  On the other hand, taking pause, getting quiet and still, then asking the question, “Body, are you hungry?” might just give you the answer you need.  The answer you get could be a “Not really. But, boy is that (insert stress inducing situation here) eating me up.” Perfect time to create awareness – journal – a delicious tool for self-love.

2.     Turn Yourself on:

There’s a great Far Side cartoon that always gave me the giggles: Two mosquitoes.  One bloated, eyes bulging (this gets me every time).  The other screaming, “Pull out, pull out Betty!  You hit an artery!”  Sometimes, this is how it feels to be sucked into the electronics vortex of our lives.  So, turn off the television, the cell phone, the computer.   Be in life, with your family, with your friends with yourself without the distraction of technology.  Learn how to reconnect in natural time, with yourself and those around you.  Turn yourself onto life and you’ll turn yourself on.

Take a walk outside, check out that art exhibit you’ve been putting off, have coffee with a girlfriend, enjoy a game of Scrabble with your loved one…  Unplugging is a radical act of self love.  Commit to it.  You’re so worth it! ( Besides, research shows how the simple act of unplugging can greatly reduce your stress level. A huge benie in my book….)

3.     Give yourself the gift of Nia:

The frenetic energy we build each day in endless to-do lists, eating on the run, chauffering the kids, hunching over phones/keyboards/projects, mindless multi-tasking et cetera pools itself up in our bodies.  Continual misuse (actually abuse) of our bodies and minds tends to show up first in “whispers” (slight discomfort) which, when, disregarded  evolve into “shouts” (acute pain).  We “function” in world full of constant, repetitive and mindless action and movement, so much so that when it is time to rest, most of us cannot seem to shut our minds off.  Take a time out and shake it all loose in a Nia class with a certified instructor (feel free to join me on Saturdays at 9:00AM and Sundays at 10:30am at The Hot Yoga Spot in Albany, New York).  You body and mind will feel so much more grounded

Nia is a sensory-based movement practice that leads to health, wellness and fitness. It empowers people of all shapes and sizes by connecting the body, mind, emotions and spirit. Classes are taken barefoot to soul-stirring music in more than 45 countries. Every experience can be adapted to individual needs and abilities. Step into your own joyful journey with Nia, and positively shape the way you feel, look, think and live.

4.     Get Quiet

In her book The Joy Diet: Ten Practices for a Happier Life by Martha Beck challenges us to take a radical and courageous first step towards happiness and self-love.  She calls it: Nothing.  The invitation is to do nothing for fifteen minutes a day.  No tv, no reading, no listening to music, no NOTHING.  It’s enough to send anyone in the right mind scurrying away like cockroaches.  The majority of us spend our time mindlessly chasing goals.  Take on this practice  and figure out which goals are truly worth going after.

5. Practice Gratitude

We’ve been conditioned to perseverate on the stuff that’s not working.  In fact, sometimes getting together with your peeps can just end up being a bitch fest that leaves you drained of any kind of life force.  Truth is, what you give you attention to grows stronger.  Personally, I’m not interested in giving the negative aspects in my life any more air time than necessary.  So, focus on what is already good in your life.  Please understand, I am no Pollyanna.  The shadow aspects of our lives serve to complete us, and give us perspective on where the light shines.  So, daily, stop in order to express gratitude for those things we already have.  Oprah has a gratitude journal in which she writes every day.  Hey, seems to be really working for her.  Why not give it a try?

The road to self-love requires a commitment to embracing your current life in all of it’s messy, complicated, drama-filled and  breathtaking magnificence.  At times you will feel as if you have lost your way,  at others as if you are exactly where you need to be.  Take time to discover the absolute radiant beauty that you are.  Because you are, amazingly beautiful right here, right now.


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