In all my years practising meditation and self-love, I’ve discovered 4 essential steps to self-love.
Research on self-compassion and self-love show it is associated with less stress, less anxiety, more optimism, better recovery from stress, and it paves the way to a positive mindset, which helps you overcome obstacles or challenges more.
Instead of making it hard on yourself by judging yourself or thinking negatively, you switch to a positive state of mind. Just think about how much we can accomplish, by being kind towards ourselves instead of hard.
1. Set an intention
In order to focus our internal compass on our true North, we have to set an intention first: to see the good in ourselves, so we can see it in others too. To send love and appreciation and compassion in ourselves, so we ourselves become more happier, loved and healthy.
The power of an intention is strong, because it seeks into your daily life. Self-love is a practice, so whenever you notice yourself thinking negatively abut yourself, whether that’s a negative body imagine, judging or comparing yourself – simply return to the intention you set, to love yourself. It allows us to celebrate our wins, and, in hard times, be gentle with ourselves. It’s treating ourselves as we would treat a friend who needs our help.
2. Write yourself a love letter
A practice I’ve discovered last year by listening to a talk from Elizabeth Gilbert on Insight Timer, has changed the way I handle this pandemic, lockdown, loneliness and so much more. In this talk, she discusses how we can face fear with compassion, and how writing a love letter to herself has helped her throughout decades of healing.
Of course, you are free to write whatever you want to, but here’s a guideline: dear x, I love you, and I know you can get through this. You got through everything so far, and I know you are strong and capable. I believe in you. I love xxx about you. I love how you are so xxx. etc. When you begin writing, you’ll notice a sense of relief, comfort, and love coming over you.
In this letter, you’ll basically write a letter to yourself, expressing your appreciation for everything you do, and expressing love and compassion towards yourself.
3. Say it out loud
Another practice that requires minimum time and gives you maximum levels of love, is practice saying it out loud to yourself. Stand in front of a mirror, set a timer for 1 minute, look yourself in your eyes and repeat the affirmation: I love you. I love you. I love you. Notice what feelings or emotions might arise, and continue to say it the whole minute. Challenge yourself to do this for a week, or a month, or anytime you feel like you need an extra dose of love.
3. Self-love & loving-kindness meditations
Let’s shift to meditation practices that are perfect to soothe yourself with some self-love. What I love about these meditations, is that they not only calm your mind and body, lower your blood pressure, calm your heart rate, improve your mood, so overall improve your emotional and physical health, they also fill you up, and recharge you, on levels you never even thought to visit.
Whether you are religious or spiritual or not, meditation is a beautiful practice that can be done by anyone really. Plus, it costs nothing to close your eyes, watch your breath and repeat affirmations, or visualise a scenario, or repeat a mantra, or simply keep focusing on your breath – but the benefits and consequences of it are priceless.
A loving-kindness meditation go like this: take a comfortable seat or lay down. Start by taking some deep, purposeful breaths, Next, start watching your breath. Whenever your attention wanders off, gently smile and bring it back to your breath. Next, picture yourself as a child. Re-visit that memory and gently repeat to yourself: may I be happy. May I be healthy, May I be peaceful. May I be safe. You can also picture people you love, or even the entire world. and repeat these affirmations, in order to send love to everyone out there.