We’re feeling the love this February at Awakened Spirit Yoga. But before you start mailing out those Valentines, send a big hug and kiss to the one who’s always been there–YOU! That’s right, this month is all about cultivating self love, baby. To get you in the mood, I want to share with you a little story about my personal transformation through learning to love myself.
Every Day More Golden
It was Easter Sunday, 2013. My roommates were out of town. Coming home to an empty house, I had attempted to call my family. However, a recent illness had left me voiceless; I fought back the tears as I heard my father on the other end, “Hello? Hellooo…?” Click. My heart sank.
Attempting to turn the evening around, I drew myself a bath. Easing into the steamy water, I began to notice something…What was it? Cellulite? On the front of my thighs? No way could it be! It was. Patterns of overconsumption and a generally unhealthy lifestyle were beginning to reveal themselves within my physical appearance: stretchmarks, cellulite, and a layer of extra padding throughout. This was it. The end. Without a doubt, I would never again be as beautiful as I had been at 18. I had peaked at 23. It was all downhill from here. How could anyone ever love a glob like me?
My three year relationship had just come to a devastating end, I was going through major transitions in the workplace, and my living situation was falling to pieces. My world was crashing down around me, and I had no idea how to climb out of this hole I had created.
I needed to learn to love myself.
Hugging onto my own knees, I watched my tears collect in the dimples of my upper thighs, folding into the wrinkles of my plump belly. I weeped until my eyes had leaked enough sorrow to chill the bathwater. I bathed in my own despair until my skin began to pucker, as if it had felt my rejection and no longer wanted to be a part of me. Something had to give.
I awoke the next morning with a sparkle of newfound hope: My life was quickly transitioning, and if I was going to survive, I needed to change with it. I needed to learn to love myself.
It started off slowly. Although I wasn’t at all pleased with my physical appearance, I began to shift my focus to all the good my body does for me, rather than the way it looked. I was sending gratitude to my legs for the ability to dance, walk and bike. Thanking my tummy fluff for protecting my vital organs. Acknowledging my heart for circulating fresh blood and oxygen. Marveling at the miracle that was my body.
And, little by little, as I learned to talk nicer to myself, I began to transform. The first shift that I noticed was an increase in energy. My bike ride to work was becoming easier, and more pleasurable. I was able to bring more focus into my yoga practice. I felt much more social and began going out, connecting with old friends, and making new ones. I noticed that the people around me were smiling more, and I realized that this was a reflection of my own inner light.
From here, my own beauty began to unravel itself before my eyes. I had the ability to make other people feel good inside. I could touch them with kind words, make them laugh, and offer a kind ear. I could dance my heart song and inspire others to move with me. What’s more wonderful than that? I was finding new reasons to love myself every day–qualities that I had overlooked my entire life.
One significant part of my journey of self-love has been a daily forgiveness practice called “Every Day More Golden”. At the end of the day, I would look back on the events, imagining that my thoughts, words, and actions were all spilling into one golden cup. The more I put in, the more the liquid would overflow, creating abundance to be shared. If something I wasn’t happy with went into the cup, I could neutralize it by adding more beauty, gratitude and positive vibrations. These glowing liquids would dilute the negativity and wash it over the rim. Instead of self-criticizing, the voice in my head became gentle and encouraging.
I was finding new reasons to love myself every day–qualities that I had overlooked my entire life.
This daily practice allowed me to constantly re-align with my heart’s truth. I was empowered to make decisions that resonated with my personal values, rather than what society expected of me. I learned to set healthy boundaries within my relationships. I let go of old beliefs that were no longer serving my highest truth. Because I was forgiving myself, I was able to extend that forgiveness to others who had hurt me, thus setting myself free of the burden of carrying that pain.
Basically, I was cleaning out the closet of my soul. I took everything out, one by one, and examined it: choosing either to send it to Goodwill, fold it up and put it back, or put it on and dance about! I was creating space. For what? I wasn’t sure. But I knew that it was necessary. I moved out of the house I could hardly afford, got rid of the job that didn’t make me happy, and quit working towards the degree I didn’t need.
And then it came: Abundance. Opportunity. Travel. Work experience. Inspirational new friends. Invitations to learn in foreign countries.
A little over two years later, here I am, living and teaching yoga in a beautiful intentional community. Disconnected from the fast-paced lifestyle of the modern world, I am plugged into Mother Nature. My life is simple and peaceful, and I am grateful everyday. Not only do I get to live my truth, but I also get to share it. And you can too. Each moment, each decision we make to unconditionally love ourselves as we are, is a step leading us closer to our highest expression of self.
May your February 14th be full of self-love and compassion.