It’s a Thursday evening, I have been teaching all week, wearing ‘active wear’ way too often, spending a lot of time with people being ‘happy’ Nicole and my step children have just arrived for the weekend… asking questions and ‘shaking’ my perceived Zen vibes that may have existed in the house… I start to feel the build-up of anxiety, or maybe rage, or maybe exhaustion, of maybe (as I have come to discover, Pure energy).
These times leave me confused and frustrated, the feelings of mish-mash blah… instead of being in the ebb and flow of life, I would internally react, or maybe better said - resist. Resist life and create an inability to be able to really see or enjoy what could unfold.
In this instance my resistance would manifest in feeling angry about teaching, irritated by active wear and that my body was too ugly to wear these stupid clothes. I would switch off my joy and even resist the children and all the potential love and fun they would bring to the house. This was all playing out in a subconscious manner, yet always having a ripple effect.
These ‘Thursdays’ turned into a pattern, a spiralling emotional loop that I became addicted to without even realising. It can be a hard thing to admit, being addicted to negative states of being and therefore creating internal patterns that switch on at certain times (like Thursday evenings).
Thursday rolls around (really no matter how good my week had been) and like clockwork I would decide to play into the pattern “yes, my week has been busy, I am tired, and I definitely ‘deserve’ to shut down”. This internal reality then creates sound reasoning for the following decisions - purchasing a bottle of red wine; over eating dinner; and trying to avoid anything that needed to be done. Escaping from my life and myself, without even taking a moment to realise what I was doing. It’s as if I had convinced myself that this was some type of reward… I would end up feeling internally gross, and even with this internal feeling, I still put it down to external factors as influencing my state of well-ness.
**Side note, I do not think drinking red wine or switching off is a bad thing, it was the lack of awareness I had around this and the lack of fierce love for myself and my life.
My life existed in the form of said feelings turning into emotions, expecting to feel the same things each day and never really giving myself the opportunity to truly feel life, or feel what adventure can be like on a small scale from the inside out.
What this year has taught me is to Fiercely love myself… But how? Obviously, this experience of love didn’t come out of nowhere, these ideas were not new to me, but something shifted. Since yoga came into my life I have always been dedicated and loved the practice, so much change has come from its many different forms. Yet for the past two or three years my meditation practice has been sparse. At the beginning of this year both my husband and myself agreed we would meditate everyday no matter what and would support each other through this journey. It was strange - I had enjoyed and been motivated to meditate in the past but since having a yoga studio this practice had somehow taken a back seat. Starting a regular practice again was frustrating as shit and the dark realisation of how much crap I was working through was a real treat! It’s fair to say it has become much easier and I would even go as far as saying I enjoy it now. From someone who desperately struggled to get out of bed in the morning, to now getting up most days at 4.30am with a heart filled with gratitude at taking my first conscious breath of the day. (let’s be real, that’s not every single morning as I am still a human… but damn it’s a lot more often and I am pretty excited about that!)
So back to it, why I am writing this…? Well I woke up this morning and had this realisation that this year truly has been the best yet! As I pondered what it was that made my 2018 so damned good, I considered all the external things that have happened and learning that has happened and the people I had met. Yes these were all pretty good, but that tends to be every year… this was something different… I thought Wow, it’s the simple fact that I really took the experience of loving myself to the next level.
It’s very easy in the yoga world (in which I work), to preach all the words and throw around some inspirational quotes about self-love blah blah blah… but at the end of the day what the hell does fierce self-love feel like?!
Because in my opinion it’s definitely not what it looks like from the outside…
I say this because there was a very significant moment when the walls came crashing down (again…) (Internally). A moment where I tangibly felt my heart explode open, there was uncontrollable tears - which felt as if they were coming from a place inside, a place I had never been before. I was literally sobbing. Initially trying to hold it back, until my incredibly emotionally intelligent, kind husband saw my soul’s call for help, he came over and gently reminded me it was ok and to let myself go with it… (he was loving and gave me space – What a guy!).
The next few days were incredible and lot of tears, and then it happened - I was standing in front of the mirror (somewhat expecting to see the girl with at least one thing wrong staring back). To my surprise there I was. In all my vulnerable, imperfect, perfection. I literally saw a person that I was in love with… and it was as if I fell in love even more.
Now let me tell you, I have tried this many times over the years, standing in front of the mirror, looking into my own eyes and saying ‘I love you’. Yet it had always been ‘Practice’ and If I were being honest, I never truly felt it… What I had never realised before was that every time I looked in the mirror, before I could be ‘ok’ with what I saw, I would have to adjust something (anything!). It might be my hair or moving a piece of clothing… anything. I’m not a girl who wears makeup or cares too much about fashionable clothing, yet vanity is a mysterious creature whispering messages of disempowerment… I realised this small act of adjusting was actually sending a subconscious message to myself, ‘you will never be good enough the way you are’.
Now here I am standing in front of the mirror, without making any adjustments, I was looking at myself with a sense of wholeness and understanding. I was in love. In love with myself. I could feel the sensation of Joy throughout my body and it was incredible, I could touch my own body and only feel gratitude, I could look directly at the parts I had not felt so happy about and send them so much love, I could look into my own eyes and say out loud with so much feeling and thankful-ness how much I loved myself and how beautiful I was. Even as I write this now, I feel a sense of dis-belief at how amazing this deeply internal transformation was and how it has changed my experience of life.
Experiencing self-love became everything. I have read the books, I have had the conversations, and for a while now have intellectually believed all of this, but to feel it, to be it, totally caught me off guard. I felt as if people wouldn’t recognise me, as from the inside there was such a huge shift. It is like having a mysterious super power that brings me more joy, more energy, more abundance, more flow, more laughter, more silliness, more productively, more creativity, more quality in every aspect of life.
Love truly is Life.
Why I speak of fiercely loving myself is because when love does come in this way, as much as it can feel melty and delightful, it also feels powerful and fluid. Where there was a fight it is now met with the strength of forgiveness; personal boundaries are now aligned with compassion, a heart throbbing intensity for the suffering in the world - met with the humble grace that it is duality that makes up this divine reality of imperfect beauty we live in. This is followed by the feeling to give more, to serve more and to share more for the good of all humanity, the inner world becomes vast and rich, a wonderous place - this love comes from and through devotion. A devotion to this divine body I was given, a devotion to the complex beauty of mother nature and to the divine presence that exists in all things, a devotion to experience life to a fuller degree more and more, each loving step I take.
Being human makes it tricky of course, and that Thursday feeling still creeps in, yet with fierce love driving my life, I do not feel as scared by these feelings. I do not have to act, in fact, what is being asked is that I acknowledge these challenging feelings as vulnerable and in need of love and respect. I can love these challenging feelings into life and through this love they can be transformed. Love is not about everything being positive and happy all the time. It is about the grit, the self-work, and deeply honouring what the heart is saying.
Our hearts have the most intuitive, powerful intelligence and are always there, guiding our highest good. The biggest challenge is learning how to listen, respect and live from a space of integrated, balanced love.