Updated: Mar 2
I have struggled with the concept of "self-love" with a deep misunderstanding that is is narcissistic and self-indulgent. But what is "love" but tender affection and acceptance. Think of that tenderness you feel toward a child or a small animal. Why would we not hold this same tenderness for ourselves? We are no less deserving. And we the adult can provide that unconditional tenderness to our own inner child. Additionally, I have come to understand that the embodiment of such tender care to my self, means attending to each and every aspect of the multifaceted nature of my humanness. A useful construct are the chakras which do represent us from our very basic needs to our most spiritual. None is superior to another. We are human. We need them all. And the more of them we attend to, the more well being we can experience. Following is a 7 point cheat sheet on how you can cultivate love of self by respecting and attending each of your 7 Chakras. Thanks to Kathleen Hanagan for this elucidation, see her interview with Karen Uppal for more.
The Root Chakra is about survival, health and safety: cultivate well-being by attending to sleep, good nutrition and hydration, exercise, and hygiene, and in our culture, solid finances.
The Sacral Chakra is about creativity, emotions and sexuality. Attend to well-being by cultivating empathy and relationship, realizing our needs for creativity, attending to sexual health (whether via a partner or self-pleasure), and keeping our finances in order. What inspires you? What are your curiousities that enliven you?
The Solar Plexus Chakra is about personal power, self-confidence and self-esteem. Attend to well-being by acknowledging your unique gifts and manifesting and standing in your own power and not comparing yourself to others.
The Heart Chakra is affinity for one's self and others. Love, affection, tenderness. Attend to well-being here through loving the inner, innocent child within.
Throat Chakra is about communication and self-truth. Attend to your well-being through clear, clean, empowering and positive speaking.
The 3rd Eye Chakra is our intuitive center and seat of the soul. Attend to your well-being here by trusting your own inner knowing. It is soft. This deep place of knowing is never a voice of self-harm or harm to others, such a voice is the voice of ego.
The Crown Chakra is our connection to source, or Divine, or God, or nature however you perceive that thing greater than ourselves and representative of our higher self. Attend to this area of your well-being by staying connected to that which is greater than yourself through meditation, or prayer, or walks in the woods, or singing or however you find this for yourself. (A new study shows that just 20 minutes of contact with nature lowers stress and hormone levels. Woo hoo... go sit under a tree!
When you run into difficult times, it can be helpful to run through this list every day to actively seek positive ways to stay connected and not sucked too deeply into negative emotions.
Paramahansa Yogananda suggests we "crowd out bad habits by substituting good habits in all departments of your life." I know I can easily get into a negative habit of thinking. But creating an active habit of attending to each of these areas every day, can pave forward a positive path of self-love.
In loving partnership and practice in all these areas myself !