Self-love is an understated concept in our Western culture. In our fast-paced world, we are delivered a multitude of messages on a daily basis that undermine the cultivation of self-love. Through television shows, social media, and commercial advertising, we are continually being exposed to messages of either not being good enough or not having enough. As a result, we sacrifice our self-care and self-love in order to achieve these “things.” We begin to believe that we will only be truly happy and fulfilled once we have obtained these “things.” The irony is that we are already happy and fulfilled just as we are.
The fact that happiness is our true nature is evident when you observe infants. As a pediatrician, I see 6-month olds who laugh and smile while they play with their feet (yes, happy baby pose!); 9-month olds who find enjoyment in crumpling the paper on the exam room table; 12-month olds who open and shut the cabinet doors for minutes on end with the same level of enthusiasm and wonder each time. Now, can you imagine living in this way? I am not advising that you start rolling around on the floor, grabbing your feet, and laughing (although, why not?); but, can you live a life of being truly present? Can you live a life where you find joy and amazement in all of the seemingly routine parts of your day? This, I believe, is one method for cultivating self-love.
In dedicating yourself to being truly present and mindful, it is not possible to also denigrate yourself with negative thoughts of self-judgment, blame, or regret. Self-love, and thereby pure joy and happiness, is already within us; it has simply been covered by layers of thought patterns and conditioning. To untangle and let go of these patterns is a process; and, the practice of being present is a vital part of that process.
So, I invite you to begin that process today by taking a moment to be truly present. Instead of rushing out to your car to drive to work, take a moment to notice the color of the sky before getting into your car. Or, when washing the dishes, take a moment to notice how the water feels on your hands; perhaps, take another moment to consider how many bones, muscles, and connective tissues in your body are working in perfect harmony to allow you to perform the act of washing dishes. When considered in this way, you begin to naturally develop greater love and respect for yourself, your actions, and for the world around you. In cultivating self-love, you begin to realize that qualities within yourself are also within all living beings and nature itself. Quite suddenly, self-love evolves into universal love. Quite suddenly, you are more open to giving and receiving love. Quite suddenly, you realize that love is all there is.
Hari Om Tat Sat