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Find the sweetness in your own heart, then you may find the sweetness in every heart.

Rumi

What is your self-love story? We each have one. The way we talk to ourselves. Do you hear criticism after criticism or do you hear a calm, serene, loving voice that’s telling you that you are wonderful?

Chances are, if you are like me, you start with the criticisms. I know for me, it was hard for me to start to practice self-love. I heard in yoga & meditation classes and all sorts of happiness blogs that in order to accept love from others and love others fully that I had to love myself, and I resisted.

Well, that resistance was exactly what was blocking me from truly experiencing love. I needed to trust and accept myself before I could ever find happiness in myself and love & accept another and believe that another could love & accept me. Wow. This started me on a path of figuring out my self-love story.

My story is that I always felt less important than everyone else while I was growing up. There was a lot of upheaval in my family as a child and I did not want to contribute to making things more difficult with my own needs. So, I was always the first to put my own needs aside. It seemed that other people in my family were first and needed to be first. As a result, I got used to being the quiet one in the corner, not causing mischief or asking for anything. Through that experience, I grew into an adult that always put the other people in my life first and quashed my own needs, thinking I wasn’t worth it. Not worth the trouble, not worth generosity, not worth love.

Does this resemble your own story? Telling yourself that you aren’t worth it?

Well, I am here to tell you that you are. You are totally worth it. You are worth love. You are worth your own love.

Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we’ll ever do.

-Brene Brown

When I realized that, my heart opened up and I wept. It was through my yoga practice that I first felt this sense of self-love. I softly wept through every chest expansion pose for months. Letting go, letting go, letting go of self-criticism and feelings of unworthiness. Then, I was able to welcome in self-love.

When I let in self-love, I felt this lightness. Then, an almost giddy feeling of joy. It was unlike any feeling I had before. I made the choice to make myself a priority. I noticed that when I was unable to create time and space for my own self-care practices, I would feel sadness and anger. So, I made sure to prioritize myself. Once I discovered this love for myself, I needed to make sure that I honored that love. Because I am worth it.

Once I found my own capacity for self-love, I noticed that I was able to not only accept myself, but to accept others also. Like the Rumi quote above says, I was able to “find the sweetness in every heart.”

What are some easy ways to practice self-love?

  1. Meditate on self-love. This is a meditation that can be done when you have an extra 5 minutes.
    1. Get comfortable.
    2. Close your eyes or soften your gaze.
    3. Breathe calmly, evenly.
    4. Place your hands on your heart and feel your chest rise and fall.
    5. Say to yourself kindly, gently: “I am worthy of love” “I am worthy of happiness” “I am enough” “I love myself”
    6. Notice how you feel.
    7. When you are ready, slowly open your eyes.
  2. Do one kind thing for yourself everyday. Even if it is small.
  3. Do one thing that brings you joy everyday.
    Write it down so you remember. It doesn’t have to be a long journal entry – just write down a sentence of what brought you joy, and then you can look back at those experience and remember those joyful moments when you need to.
  4. Open your heart – literally. After you do these stretches, take a moment to notice how you feel in your body, your heart, and your mind.
    1. Do a stretch where you bring your arms to the side and lift them up into the air, and then bring them back to your sides again.
    2. Bring your hands behind you and clasp them together while lifting your breast bone up, then release.
    3. Place a pillow behind your head and shoulders and lie back and rest for 3-5 minutes for a more restorative chest opener.

So, what is your self-love story? Maybe you can start to tell it now. Be brave. You are worth it.

May you have peace within,
Julia

Julia anjali mudra hands

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