Why do I practice Yoga?
Why do I practice Soma?
The answer: Self Love.
Then I asked…
Why Self Love? What is Self Love exactly? And how is it different than self-obsession and narcissism?
A flood of stories entered my mind and heart of all the beautiful people in my life who’ve suffered, and are still suffering, from a lack of Self Love. And the deep knowing from my own suffering whenever I’m in a state of Self Doubt or Self Blame or Shame or Hate or Sabotage or _________ fill in the blank.
Either traveling the downward spiral of Self Loathing or the upward spiral of Self Love in our quests. The direction we travel in our quest is determined by our questions inside the labyrinth of our minds.
For example, let’s imagine the very same thing happens to two different people: they don’t get the job they applied for. Below are two internal quests in response to this news.
Person 1: What’s wrong with me? Am I not hirable? Why didn’t I get the job? Who did they choose over me? Are they better than me?
Person 2: What can I learn from this experience? Did I really, really want this job? If so, then where else shall I look? If not, then what do I really, truly want to do for work?
Obviously we are way more complex and nuanced than my examples, depending on a myriad of life experiences that have shaped our perceptions of the world and ourselves and the ways our minds are interacting with our environments. And factors such as how much sleep we’ve had, what we ate that day, the time of day and year, and so on and so on.
However, since our minds have neuroplasticity we CAN become directors of our inner spirals the more we notice our quests and consciously choose how we respond to life from the inside-out, vs. reacting to life from the outside-in.
How we choose to respond or react to external life internally sets our energy in motion, or our e-motion. Our emotional state influences our choices, which become patterns, which become habits, which become behavior, which become beliefs, which become our destiny. Spiraling up or down on ourselves.
Of course there are external and internal systemic variables that influence one’s facility for directing such internal quests, including mental health issues, organized religion, institutionalized education, trauma, poverty, racism, age, and countless other variables that I am likely unaware of (I’m open to learning though). However I also am in no position to speak on behalf of anyone else’s insperience and their own potential for internally directing their unique quests.
As a wannabe neuroscientist, I declare no facts, I just ask questions and notice patterns. Applying pattern recognition for freedom rather than labeling and boxing in.
On the downward spiral, the pattern is to seek the love outside our Self. Seeking validation, need for attention, alcohol, drugs, social media, food, shopping, money, new experiences, sex, gambling, any form of entertainment and stimulation and so on and so on. This is the realm of narcissism, greed, depression, violence, jealousy and addiction. In this spiral there will always be a power-over or power-under dynamic with ourselves, others and the world. We grasp for things and people to give a sense of aliveness inside us, but the void is so large that no amount of filling will ever reach a state of the very thing we seek: Self Love.
Note: I have no judgment for vices. Trust me. Too pure is purely boring. I just noticing in myself and others when these vices become escapism from our Selves, and then the downward spiral begins.
On the upward spiral, the pattern is a deep listening and re-sourcing to love within our Self. Forgiveness clears space for grace and allows the biggest Truth to speak louder than the other voices. The Truth that we are already loved, just as we are. And the more we align to this Truth, our Self Love becomes a self regenerative battery to be clear, present and loving to others and our environment. A power-with dynamic by plugging into our inner source of love, empowerment. Abundance overflows in our inner well, creating infinite wealth from our unique genius within. Evolving from competition and scarcity to abundance and creativity. To access this spiral takes practice, and an initiation of going into our darkness, accepting all of ourselves- even the seemingly unlovable, and still love every part unconditionally and wholly.
Whoa. It's as if Judgment Day is every single thought, or quest. Creating our own personal Heaven or Hell.
The image of the ankh came to heart when I asked about Self Love. I honestly don’t know much about this symbol, other than what I’m intuiting in my body. Here’s what I drew:
The staff of the ankh is our connection to Self. Our personality. Our vertical axis. Our spine. Our masculinity. Our left-brain logical thinking hemisphere based on linear time. We must have a strong vertical axis to know who we are, our uniqueness, as individuals.
The horizontal line, Love, on this ‘cross’, is our connection to other. To the love that is beyond our differences located in our heart. The unity consciousness that permeates duality. This is our femininity. Our right-brain hemisphere based on infinite possibilities and spherical time.
The loop is the integration of the two: Self-Love. From here we are aware of who we are as individuals so we can open to each other with love coming from within. Here we are masterful with our insperience by being plugged into Self Love, and become highly capable of choosing how to best respond in every situation. This fluid structure that is powered within. Power-with-in.
This whole quest thing is no joke. That’s why it’s a practice.
So I celebrate every little victory of Self Love. Every time I notice a pattern of the downward spiral, I don't deny it, I see it, listen and allow the inner transformation to take place. This is the wildest inner ride of self compassion and kindness. I've become my own inner coach, saying things like, "Good job, Em. You are becoming more clear with your priorities."
And that’s precisely why I practice Soma and Yoga. To equip my mind and body with tools for this labyrinth I’m in to continually remind myself to choose Self Love. Every. Single. Day.
I'm curious to learn how you practice Self Love. Please share.