Wherever you are, and whatever you do, be in love. Rumi (13th Century Persian Mystic)
As we hit the time of the holidays, we start to think about all the people around us who we love and care about. We want to reach out to them, show them we love them and buy them special presents to reflect our appreciation. In what is already a busy life, we are also building up to the biggest celebrations of the year. This can be exhausting, and so many of us collapse at the table either on Thanksgiving or Christmas day unable to fully be present and enjoy the very thing we are thankful for; life.
By practicing a little self-love, we can avoid being fully spent on the day of celebration, by being mindful of who we are and what is important to us amid all the noise and activity. Self-love can sound like a very indulgent concept. Aren’t I being selfish if I only think of myself? Shouldn’t I be thinking of others at this time of year? Isn’t love about giving not receiving?
I can understand these concerns, but let’s demystify the nature of love. Love is energy; it is as simple and as complex as that. It is the life force of energy that is all around us and resides in its most concentrated form in our heart. If we remember this, we can then start to think of the analogy of a mobile phone – bear with me on this!
We all have one of these devices these days and they are great. We can talk to people, we can shop, we can pay our bills, we can play games on them, the list is endless. Yet the phone’s energy is not. So, what do you do to ensure that your phone continues to provide the same fantastic activities each day? You plug it in and renew its battery. If you don’t it dies and then there is no more fun to be had.
We are like our mobile phones, in as much as we need our energy boosting every day so that we can continue to be the loving, generous and compassionate person we want to be in the world. Recharging our batteries is the supreme act of self-love. It allows us to have a loving flow of energy constantly coming to us which we can share with everyone in our lives. In the book ‘A Course in Miracles’, it says that I give what I receive. In truth, we can only give what is present within us. I am not talking here of physical items (although the principle holds here too), but energetically. We can only give, what we have in ourselves to give.
Here are some of the ways you can practice self-love so that you can be your most vibrant, thankful and loving self during the holidays.
- Get a good night’s sleep. This is something that we so often compromise in our busy modern lives. The body needs time to renew itself, given the highly complex biological processes it runs for us each day. Aim for at least 7 hours sleep at night.
- Centre yourself before you start the day. Start a morning ritual that allows you to start the day in a positive way. After you have dealt with all the essential morning things, sit quiet for a few minutes (5 minutes is enough if you are always short of time). Read an inspirational quote for the day (there are lots of books out there or online resources. Look up Rumi Quotes for an example or have develop a personal affirmation (I’ll be launching an affirmation deck soon, so you can pick a fresh card every day). Use the words in your quote or affirmation to guide you into a brief meditation. Focus on your breath and repeat the words to yourself silently, until you feel calm and centred.
- Be Grateful. We hear about the power of gratitude increasingly and that is because it is the most powerful tool in our manifestation toolkit. It’s easy to be grateful when everything is flowing our way, but far harder when we are having difficulties. Yet it is precisely at this point that it is as it is most powerful. Next time you are finding yourself angry, annoyed or upset with someone in your life, take a moment to connect with your breath and ask yourself ‘what from this situation can I learn about myself? How can this situation teach me the value of happiness?’ If you stay focused on your questions, you will see the dynamic start to shift and allow you to come up with a better response.
I send you the very best of wishes over the holiday season. Remember that to love yourself is to love all others. Self-love is the supreme act of bringing love into the world. There is no better gift than that.
On December 7th, I’ll be jointly running an evening of Yoga and Mindfulness with Emma Heald, near Hull. We will explore the theme of self-love. If you are local and want to join us the details are HERE.