In our last blog, we put the spotlight on self-love. While most of us know Valentine’s Day as a holiday to honor and celebrate those we love, it can also be a great time to celebrate loving ourselves. We are with ourselves all the time! That kind of commitment deserves to be honored, right? An now that the holiday has passed, it's important to think about continuing on the feelings of love into the rest of the year.
We often forget to actively be kind to ourselves. In fact, sometimes we flat out disrespect ourselves, put ourselves down, and neglect ourselves. So let’s take a moment to pause and bring our attention to ourselves. It isn’t selfish. In fact, loving yourself is the first step towards being able to love and care for others in a genuine way and be the healthiest you can be for those you love.
One way to bring attention to ourselves is through mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is the process of attending to the present moment, fully and without judgment of what we observe. That means accepting any sensations and thoughts that may arise, and allowing them to pass and to return ourselves to the moment. Usually, mindfulness anchors to the breath.
One great mindfulness practice for self-love is the Loving Kindness Meditation. There are many variations and guided versions (try YouTube to find some great ones!) but here’s a guided version we like to practice:
Find a comfortable position. It’s important to feel comfortable, safe, and stable.
Take a couple minutes to focus on your breathing. Breathe in through your nose, pay attention to the breath as it moves into your neck and chest and down to the stomach, and fill your stomach with the slow and deep breath. Breathe out slowly, following the path of the air back up and out of your mouth.
Take special notice of your breath as it passes your heart, your center. Anchor yourself to the sensations in your heart.
Generate a kind and loving feeling toward yourself. How does it feel?
Do you notice resistance? Negative thoughts or feelings? Notice these blocks, do not judge them or yourself for having them. They are thoughts and feelings that “just are”. They cannot be pushed away or changed in any aggressive way. We have to allow them to exist, then allow them to pass through and be on their way.
As those thoughts pass, notice the lighter calmer feelings underneath. Staying focused on your heart center, allow yourself to feel love flowing toward yourself.
Meditate on some positive self-statements, such as:
- May I be safe (from myself and others)
- May I be free of mental distress and suffering
- May I be happy
- May I be free of physical pain
- May I be healthy and strong
- May I be able to live in this word happily and freely
- May I be filled with loving kindness
- ...And any other similar statements you find comforting
Take a moment to pause and show yourself some love. If you’re an educator, clinician, or parent, try this out and pass it along to others. Kids and adults alike can benefit from this practice.
P.S. Remember, true compassion begins with compassion toward yourself. So don’t forget to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. We hope the above practice helps you recharge your self-love! Be your own Valentine year-round!