Happy Valentine's Day! Thank you so much for stopping in and/or for joining the practice in this final week of the series.
Be sure to check out or review the other 3 weeks, if you haven't yet. These 4 weeks have been a journey toward optimism and contentment (santosha), so I hope that as we move through final thoughts on LOVE, you are able to connect with that for yourself.
Week 4: LOVE
Week 3 was all about action. We covered how the mind influences the way our body reacts, but also how the physical shape of our body triggers our mind. So learning how to move slower and with mindfulness can help your brain to become more focused and calm.
This final week, we're capping off our study of optimism by considering how love influences ALL of these things (thoughts, words and actions). Without love, there is no hope of growth and change. In other words: we must first love ourselves.
Cultivate Self Love:
Self-love is not always easy. Self-love means at times, putting yourself first, saying 'no' when you need to, hiring a babysitter, pissing people off, forgiving yourself, allowing yourself to feel loss, using words and affirmations to begin to believe that you are worthy of love.
Self-love is a very individual journey because so much of our self-hate is wrapped up in memories, experiences, shame, guilt, fear, loss and years worth of habits and negative self-talk that become ingrained. Though these patterns are powerful, they CAN be overcome with lots of awareness and honesty.
If self-love feels like a big hurdle to you, I recommend seeking help. You do not have to stay stuck this way forever and you owe it to yourself AND those you love to learn how to honor yourself. You are not an island and you do not have to navigate this process on your own. (Contact me)
One of the hardest things you may ever do in your life is truly forgive. We all know that it's important. Anger and resentment will literally fester in your gut. Whatever Story or situation you are dealing with is moot. Jen Sincero writes about forgiveness in her book, "You Are A Badass," saying that in order to truly forgive, we must completely remove the 'other person' from the equation. So in other words, we focus on the situation as if the offending party were not at all part of it. What are you left with?
As I mentioned last week, words are helpful in creating new patterns. Repeating words out-loud or internally is very useful (mantras). One of the most helpful mantras that I've learned for love was shared to me by one of my teachers, Sherry Sidoti. It's an ancient Hawaiian mantra and the words are "ho opòno òpono." It means, "I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you. I love you." Such a deeply powerful sentiment to use for yourself or for someone else.
Forgiveness can be a process. It's okay if it doesn't happen overnight. Sometimes, you may feel that you've fully forgiven someone until you experience a mental trigger. You will either notice a reaction (meaning that there is more work to be done) or a lack of reaction (meaning that you have forgiven.)
Motivational guru, James Ray, once said that, "Saying 'Thank you for giving me that experience,' is true forgiveness.”
Love is like it's own little muscle. If you don't regularly experience it, use it and share it, it becomes lethargic and out of practice. A great way to jump-start your loving journey is to begin to donate your time or energy to something bigger than yourself. Share experience, give something away to someone who needs it or appreciates it more than you, offer a gift or help someone out with no strings attached.
Practice being open-hearted...literally open to both give and receive love from those around you. It can be scary! Loving puts us in a vulnerable position. But that vulnerability is what opens us up most fully to experience life and contentment. Without love, we can't be grateful and without gratefulness, we will never find contentment.
I hope this was helpful and gave you some things to think about off the mat. Please let me know if you have any questions and be sure to followup with all of the video replays and blog posts here!