Often I have wondered what Self Love is all about. Yes I like myself (depending on what my hair is doing on a particular day), I feel good when I dress up, but what really IS self love?
First I thought about what happens when I don’t love myself:
I refuse to accept or brush off a compliment
I find it hard to receive love because I don’t feel worthy of it
I feel drab and flat
My heart is closed and feels heavy
It’s hard to get going in the morning
So I thought about times when I felt self love and discovered that usually it’s when I did a loving act for myself. For example:
When I stood up for myself and did the right thing by me
I gave myself a treat
I resolved an issue
I recognised a time when I have changed a pattern to something different and patted myself on the back for choosing something better
For me the benefits of Self Love are...
Waking up feeling delicious inside
Look forward to a new day
I can let go and trust
I can roll with the punches and go with the flow
It’s easier to adjust to changes
So I know all that but how do I cultivate more self love, despite the wrinkles, a bad hair day or anything else that comes along?
Well, what I do know is that love is an ACTION. It’s no good just thinking about it or wishing for it, real love is felt when it is expressed or experienced. One of the ways I know to cultivate self love is through an ancient chi kung practice called The Inner Smile meditation. Yes smiling on the inside of your body develops self love. You can smile inside yourself anywhere, anytime and you can smile to any part of you – to each of your organs, your body parts, your skin, into your bones, your eyes, ears or hair. Or you can smile with love at a feeling – “there I go again feeling anxious, angry or sad” – just smile at it. Hearing its voice and accepting it just as it is will help you find peace again.
The trick with smiling is to do it with intent. The kind of intent I mean is this: imagine you are an employer and are visiting your hard working employees. When the employees experience your genuine smile they immediately relax, puff up their chests, feel good and smile back at you! In fact, they will probably smile for days afterwards because of this experience. This is what happens with your cells, organs, tissues, body parts or emotions. Try it, they will love it.
Another way to love yourself is to give yourself a treat, the way you would a dear friend.
Have a fragrant bath with candles, soft towels, music and wine. Go the whole way, don’t skimp on yourself.
Do something that delights you with the focus on loving yourself, walk in the moon light, swim naked, dance to inspiring music or sing.
Take a nap in the sun.
You could wear something special (I have a friend who wears fabulous dresses when she gardens).
Put new sheets on your bed, grab a hot chocolate and read great books.
Whatever you do, make sure you do it for yourself the way you like it and allow yourself to consciously enjoy it.
Smile on the inside and soon you will be smiling on the outside. We have all seen people in love who seem to glow. Well loving yourself will also give you a sparkle that is irresistible. Now when the compliments come you will be able to receive them because you already feel good.
So cut yourself some slack and smile some love into you.
Elayne Lane is an instructor of the Universal Healing Tao. She has been teaching and doing bodywork in excess of 14 years.