I grew up with Disney, and girls who talked about getting boyfriends and being a mom one day. When we would play house they would pretend to wait for their husband to get home from work, look after their little baby dolls and cook dinner in their pretend kitchens. That was what I thought love was. The bonds of love were found and felt within my family and reserved for Prince Charming. As I grew older I started realizing that there were so many more types of love in the world than I ever could have imagined. The only problem was that I was looking everywhere but within.
As I grew with my peers who used to “play house” I watched as some of my closest friends climb the mountain of life with me. Some of us walked together, camped out together and scaled rocks together. Others took dangerous short cuts. Some of us simply parted ways with different destinations; but at the end of the night, I slept in my own tent, and at the end of the day, I walked my own path; and a lot of the time I was lonely. I was missing something. Was it love?
I started digging deep into my soul for my purpose. I was sure this would take my mind off of the empty parts of me that always seemed to crawl their way back into my conscious. I was passionate about helping people. I wanted to teach people how to live their best life no matter where they were. More than that, I wanted to teach people how to find their joy. How to find their way, how to fight through the darkness, how to find hope within themselves and pass their lessons on; but I kept stumbling upon the same hurdle every time. I kept telling myself I wasn’t worthy of helping others. I wasn’t a millionaire. I didn’t have an 8-pack and 10% body fat. I wasn’t perfect. To me, focusing on what I wasn’t was going to help me get to where I needed to be. Those were the missing links to everything I was capable of and everything I could offer others. Little did I know, I didn’t have the key element that would allow me to soar higher than ever - the most powerful form of love there is. What I was missing – what I really wanted to teach people, was how to dig deep into their hearts and plant the seed of self love; because with self-love comes infinite possibility and complete limitlessness.
And so I began the bumpy journey towards learning how to truly love myself. With the simple road map of right mind, right words, right action, and staying conscious of those three things, I managed to notice how self destructive my thoughts towards myself and consequently others, really were. Simply by committing to being aware of my thoughts towards others and myself, I learnt how to work through what life threw at me with patience and kindness, how to be the eye of the storm and stand strong in my own body, how to guide myself through a rocky plain and know that I am enough, and how to shut out the negative self talk that so often liked to challenge my purpose.
Tonight’s yoga class was a perfect example of the ever-evolving bond between my mind, body, and soul. As I stepped on the mat I found myself ready with guns blazing. I wanted a workout. I wanted to sweat and I wanted my muscles to hurt; little did I know this was another test along the shifting terrain that is self-love.
Half way through the practice I felt my energy shift. As I held warrior one and told myself I was strong, I was capable, I could sink lower, I loved the fatigue…the truth was I was tired, and that was okay. Yet another lesson that the journey of self love teaches us when we have the courage to pursue it. In that moment I realized that I didn’t have to be a strong warrior to feel like a strong warrior. The second half of the practice I listened to my body. It was telling me to take time to celebrate the battles that I had won. Instead of telling myself to fold further, I congratulated myself for folding as far as I did. Instead encouraging my body to sink lower or reach higher I gave my body gratitude for where it was at that time on this journey. After I gave my body this permission my practice totally changed. After I practiced self love and self acceptance, my energy totally shifted. As a personal trainer and a fitness enthusiast I’ve always lived by the mantra “it’s you v.s you!” or “Push through the pain!” I even used to have a poster hung up in my gym that quoted Mohamed Ali “I hated every minute of training, but I said, 'Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. I think that there are so many of us out there that come to our physical and metaphorical yoga mat with this Mohamed Ali perspective on life and on our practice, and don’t realize the damage it can cause. So many of us blur the lines between self-disciple and negative self talk.
Instead of this Mohamed Ali perspective I urge you to consider a new mantra: “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” As I watch my body and my mind change with each new chapter I enter, I’m finding myself more and more amazed at my ever expanding sense of peace with my body, with my mind, and with the world. Loving yourself doesn’t necessarily mean standing in front of a mirror naked while repeating “I love you, I love you, I love you.” I mean, if that does it for you than more power to ya; but sometimes loving yourself is much more subtle. Sometimes loving yourself means being at peace with your present, and sitting with every version of yourself that comes up for you without judgment.
Loving yourself changes everything. It changes the world because it changes your vision, your energy and your purpose. Stop chasing love and let it manifest. Self-love doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a constant journey. Nurture it and watch it grow inside you like a wild weed desperate for new beginnings. Nurture it and know that there is no destination – there is only the knowledge that you are worthy, you are deserving, you are fierce, and you are enough. Right now in this moment. You are loved.