WHAT DOES SELF LOVE MEAN?
Someone asked me this yesterday. Today it means, this....
To me, self-love is about a lot of things that dwell within my mind, body, and spirit. These days, it revolves a lot around my ability to become peaceful with my imperfections, more patient with my awkward pathway of growth at this time, and taking the megaphone away from my inner-critic.
Around my body, self-love is mostly about loving it exactly as it is, at this moment. Looking at it kindly, thinking about it kindly, and speaking to it kindly. On the surface that means just loving myself with that particular number on the scale, size tag in my clothing, with that dimple, line, scar, squishy bit poking out, and that unshaved hair follicle (okay, ALL those unshaved hair follicles). Under the surface, it means loving it with this ache or pain, or whatever limitations show up. All of those things are just ‘features’. My body and its features are bound to change. Hopefully for the better, but maybe for the worse in a few ways…and I will choose to love it then, as well. I can learn to love what is. I can shift my focus toward gratitude, and find a hundred things to be grateful for about it.
The most recent place this came up was in Yoga class. To be perfectly frank, it was the second yoga class I had taken in 2 years. I entered the class with my yoga-loving friend and her long, lean, flexible, gorgeous body. She was so happy to be doing this – and with me, and I (with my less than yoga-esque body and significant clumsy physique) felt more of a combination of curiosity and pure dread. I found a spot on the floor as far back as I could get and felt grateful the lighting had been dimmed (maybe no one will notice me). About 10 minutes into the class and during a particular yoga-magazine-worthy pose I wondered to myself, “Seriously, can I love myself in this class? Do I even belong here with all of these limber gazelles?” I look over at my friend, who is clearly in the zone as one of her elegant limbs stretches gracefully over my mat’s airspace, and thought, “….I have my doubts.“
For me, yoga was 60 minutes of meeting my limitations over and over again and then choosing to be okay with them. “I can stretchthis far, forthis long. I can balance myselfthis much. I’m onlythis flexible today. Can I push myself a little more? Yes. Ah, that went a little better. Stop judging myself. Stop comparing myself. Nobody cares, they are all here to take care of themselves. Just do ME. Let it all go. I am here. I can belong here. I am trying. I'm doing it. It’s okay. Everyone has to begin somewhere, start from wherever they are. I will start here with what I have. I will get better.”
When I was done with the class that night I felt grateful. Grateful it was done, but all grateful I had shown up. I thanked my body for being here, for trying, for doing it’s best, for just being alive. I was surprised to realize that yoga was not only good for stretching my body, it was also amazing for equally stretching my mind and heart. Well played, yoga.
Self-love around my mind and spirit seem to be more about becoming peaceful and flexible with my inner-critic, who can be ferociously loud and rather harsh in my own head. It likes to point out my flaws and imperfections, compare me to others and express its doubts around my potential failure. It’s rude. And I would go so far as to say it’s extremely disrespectful. It can leave me feeling lost, broken, and fearful of leaping forward at times. The only way to love myself through it is to remember I am human. I am full of faults and imperfections. I am a work in progress toward being the best human I can be. I am always changing, growing and learning more. I will always try to do better. I love the quote by Anise Nin that goes, “We do not grow absolutely chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward or fix us in the present…”
That is my queue to be more patient with myself, as I keep fumbling toward ecstasy.
PS. Speaking of inspiring people, check out this cool yoga teacher, Jessamyn - just rocking it. She is a great example of the phrase "you do you, girl." https://www.instagram.com/mynameisjessamyn/?hl=en