This Valentine’s day it’s time to make time for self-love…
Ahh… another Valentine’s Day has come and gone, with the usual red and pink fanfare of chocolate concoctions, floral arrangements, and adorable stuffed animals professing their affection holding heart-shaped pillows. It’s a somewhat mandatory expression of love, for who can possibly contemplate suffering the fate of a St. Valentine’s Day Grinch?
Endure loneliness until the end of time?… I think not! So we send valentines to our Valentines, in the hopes that we can perpetuate or even renew the fuzzy feelings of love and affection that we are “supposed” to be feeling on this day.
What is love?
Which, of course, brings one (ok, me) to ruminate on the topic of love in its many incarnations, and I seem to stumble upon one great mystery; that of unconditional self-love. Of all the forms of love that we, as humans, search for, I believe true self-love to be the most elusive.
During my high school years in a parochial school, my morality teacher, Sister Anne always said that love is a decision, which certainly did not make any sense to my then overly-emotional, love-struck teenage brain. Now, having been through the tumults of life and love, having married, had children, and divorced, I can honestly say that Sister Anne had a point; that there is an element of decision making in every love relationship. So, why do most of us make the conscious decision to omit ourselves from the love equation?
Making time for self-love
The answer, my friends, is that we are not in the habit of taking the time to truly know and appreciate ourselves as entire beautiful beings, complete with gifts, talents, flaws, and quirks, who have been graciously bestowed with limitless emotional and mental capacity. Our daily grind keeps us so externally focused, that we begin to view everything from this lens, hence our illusions on what constitutes real love, especially toward ourselves. And as we all know, the illusion is the root of much suffering.
For me, the journey toward making time for self-love occurs every time I decide to step onto my yoga mat. Remember, love is a decision! Regardless of whether I am practicing alone or in class, the parameters of my mat become the boundaries to my internal world; my time with myself. As I focus on my breath, my consciousness travels inward, where I can observe myself objectively and without judgment. I learn to use my strengths to overcome my weaknesses. I learn compassion for myself, and ultimately, empathy for others.
I become empowered by my ability and yet humbled by my tiny existence in the context of the vast universe. I have identified gifts that I didn’t know I possessed and found appreciation for my life’s challenges in helping bring those gifts to light. I feel like I am a better person to myself, my kids, my loved ones, and those around me because of what I learn about myself every day.
The importance of yoga for teens
The reason I am so compelled to write about my little ‘love fest’ is because it is what drives me to teach the life-changing practice of yoga to teens. What a gift to share with the generation who is moving up behind me, than to help them on the path to really knowing themselves fully, especially during a time when they are trying to figure out who they are! For teens today, the world around them changes as quickly as their growing bodies, becoming harder to navigate and understand.
Competition and judgment abound as everything moves at lightning speed around them. Yoga allows them to find a safe harbor in the storm, to check-in, rest, and gather their internal tools for navigating the rough waters. They learn that they can be resilient instead of anxious, steadfast instead of scared. They become empowered by identifying their own unique gifts, and what makes them truly happy. They learn that self-love is, indeed, a decision, and one that they can make daily to keep themselves happy and whole.
The beautiful song “Humble and Kind”, sung by Tim McGraw, is a sweet reminder of what we, as parents and caregivers, ultimately want our kids to learn during their time with us. The following words strike me…
Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you,
When you get where you’re going don’t forget look back around,
Help the next one in line,
Always stay humble and kind.
Teaching the path to self-love is as essential for the next ones in line, as it is for us. Let’s decide to pass along this beautiful gift, and celebrate true love way beyond St. Valentine’s Day.