While traveling in India, I met a spiritual teacher who had spent years wandering in the jungles. After experiencing years of solitude, harsh conditions, and contemplation, his message was simple – love yourself. On the surface, it doesn’t seem like that would be so hard, or even insightful; yet many of us struggle with knowing how to love ourselves. We often feel like we must earn love or that we must be “good enough” to be loved. But the truth is we are good enough, just the way that we are. Love is not earned. It is simply a state of being, and it starts from within our own hearts.
Healthy self-love is different from being egocentric or arrogant. Arrogance and egocentrism comes from a place of fear or insecurity. True, unconditional, love comes from the heart. It is connecting to the divinity that resides within each of us. It is acknowledging the miracle that we are, and that there is a divine spark within each of us. This divine spark is what makes life so mysterious. When we take a step out of the confines of our mind, and into the greater depths of our heart, we can feel into our own truth and power. Just tapping into the beat of your own heart can connect you to the miracle of your being. How does the heart even know how to beat? Not even the most renown scientist can fully explain this gift of life we are given. It is a mystery filled with infinite potential. Loving yourself is honoring that divine spark within, and acknowledging that by simply being alive, we have been given a gift from the divine.
Learning how to deeply love yourself is a practice. Many of us walk around with voices in our heads that are harsh, critical, and judgmental. Through the practice of meditation and yoga, we can learn to align that voice with our highest potential. We can learn to move past that voice into a quiet place of stillness. In this space of stillness, we can soften into a deeper space of love and connection to our divine nature. In this quiet space, we realize that we came to Earth simply to learn, and that there are no mistakes, but that everything is simply an experience. If we don’t like a certain experience, we have the power within us to not repeat that experience through mindful, conscious action. We can also acknowledge that experiences teach us lessons that can help us grow, evolve, and transform. So forgive yourself. Release yourself from any burdens of the past. Let go of harsh judgment and criticism. Embrace your inner divine. And know that you are deeply loved. Remember that the sun shines on everyone. It does not judge, or discriminate. That warmth, that radiance, is love. We are all worthy. We are all love.
As I was preparing to leave on my yoga journey to India, a part of me felt guilty for going. The practical side of my brain was telling me that it would be risky to walk away from my ten-year legal career without a solid plan for what I would do when I came back to the States. I was not used to taking vacation, let alone sabbaticals of undetermined length. I had no idea what lay before me. I felt like I was at the top of a roller coaster ride about to plunge forward into the great depths of the unknown. As terrified as I was, it also felt liberating to be able to finally let go and to simply trust what my heart was telling me. I felt a deep yearning within pulling me to India, and I could ignore it no more.
What I now know is that I was learning to trust in the unknown and in my own intuition. There are many things we can plan for in our lives, but the truth is most things are not in our control. Regardless of what we choose to do, the sun will rise, the winds will blow, the rain will fall, the seasons will change, and life will gently carry us along in its magical flow. We are part of a much greater cosmos, so much of which is completely unknown to us. If we think we have control of the way our lives unfold, we are thinking too small and deluding ourselves. The reality is every day we are trusting in the unknown. Whether we understand our own biology or not, our heart automatically knows how to beat and our lungs know how to take in breath. When we fall asleep, we let go and trust that our body will know what to do as we drift into unconsciousness. We are great miracles of being connected by a greater intelligence. The very fact that we were given life is beyond the grasp of what our logical minds can truly comprehend.
Trusting in the unknown is recognizing that there is a greater intelligence orchestrating the magic that is constantly happening all around us. We cannot always know what the outcome of a particular action will be, but we can learn to connect to our own hearts to guide us through the mysterious flow of life. We can learn to discern when something resonates with us and when it does not. We can learn to trust our own intuition and higher wisdom. Oftentimes, however, our minds can become so clouded in worry, self-doubt, and other negative thought patterns that our heart shuts down and we can no longer hear its gentle messages and guidance. This is where yoga and mediation can help. These are two practices that can take us beyond thoughts and into the quiet that exists between the thoughts. It is in this space of stillness that we can access our higher wisdom to show us a path and trust where it is leading us even when we do not know what the outcome will be.