This is a long post, so as a public service, TL; DR: Self-love is the key. And I am devoting myself to it.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I struggle with balance, finding a middle path, a middle way. This difficulty manifests in everything I do: how I work, how I practice, what I eat, how much I rest (or don’t), how I relate to people, what I think about, how much I exercise (or don’t), what I do about what I feel (or don’t), how I treat myself–everything.
Add to this that as a highly sensitive person, I have to be careful what I expose myself to: media, text, tv, radio, people. “Garbage in, garbage out” is an absolute truth for me. I have difficulty processing negativity, toxicity, and get easily overstimulated, overwhelmed. I have trouble putting any boundary or barrier between myself and the energy around me. Everything gets in.
In an effort to put better things in, to “feed” myself with things that nourish and nurture me, I signed up for a gaiam.tv membership. They have all kinds of good, health and well-being focused media. On the first day, I watched the documentary “I Am.” Then yesterday, I watched two documentaries, “Hungry for Change” and “Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead,” (this second one is actually on Netflix). Both focused on transforming your health, and both have me thinking a slightly different way about what I am doing, how I am moving through my life, and what I might do differently, how I might find balance.
What I found so encouraging in Hungry for Change is that there’s a whole section towards the end that discusses the importance of self-love to health and well-being, and talks about how detrimental, how damaging self-loathing and self-hate can be–that essentially, without self-love, health and well-being are impossible. This has long been my suspicion, that until I learned to stop smashing myself to bits, I would stay stuck, wrecked, and broken.
Some quotes from the film:
As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does–it improves your hearing, your eyesight, it lowers your blood pressure, it increases pulmonary function, cardiac output…so if we had a rampant epidemic of self-love then our healthcare costs would go down dramatically. So this isn’t just some little frou-frou new age notion, oh you know, “love yourself honey.” This is hard core science. (Dr. Christiane Northrup)
What was the most important thing to keep off the weight? What do I believe was the most crucial component? Without question: love–love for myself and love for others. (Frank Ferrante)
Something miraculous happens when you take care of yourself. You realize that you are precious…You become in love with yourself basically, and it shines, it overflows to others, becomes contagious. You give others the permission to be in love with themselves, with life. (Evita Ramparte)
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead told a great story about Australian Joe Cross (one of the people featured in Hungry for Change), “100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease…at the end of his rope and the end of his hope.” The film “chronicles Joe’s personal mission to regain his health.”
Joe goes on a 60 day juice fast (he calls it a Reboot), loses a ton of weight, gets healthy, and helps a bunch of other people along the way. I was completely and utterly inspired by him. His transformation was sensible, doable, rational–more fruits and vegetables, more exercise. But more importantly, he made a decision to take care of himself, to take charge of his own health and well-being.
I can’t do 60 days, but I have spent this morning researching juicers and juice recipes, even went and bought some juices to tide me over until I can get what I need to make my own. And, I’m considering doing a ten day juice fast. This summer, when I did a Yoga immersion class, we discussed the yogic practice of fasting and I was fascinated by it, am drawn to both the physical and spiritual nature of such a practice. This film reignited that fancy.
But it’s not just that. I am sick and tired of being sick and tired. I know that smashing myself to bits, while an old way of being that is sticky and deep, no longer serves me. I want to be able to enjoy my life, love my life, for as long as I can. I want every choice I make, every action I take, every thought to be a manifestation, an embodiment of how deeply and well I care for myself, an expression self-love. I want to take care of myself, love myself, feed myself what I am truly hungry for, what will nourish and nurture me.
I am a fan of various types of divination: I Ching and Q-Card Casting specifically. Go ahead and think I’m weird, but I believe it’s just one more way to get clear about where I am and what I should be focusing on. I think this is one of the ways the Universe sends me messages, because I open my heart and ask, but even if it’s just a message from my unconscious or random chance that doesn’t really mean anything, I find it a useful tool for gaining some insight on my current situation, whatever that happens to be.
P.S. Patti Digh, by way of my friend Courtney, shared this on Facebook, and it explains so much better what I was trying to say about divination: “When faced with two choices, simply toss a coin. It works not because it settles the question for you but because in that brief moment when the coin is in the air, you suddenly know what you are hoping for.” ~unknown
So, this afternoon I went to Hiro Boga’s website and did a Deva card practice. She describes Devas this way:
Every creation on Earth that serves an evolutionary purpose has a spiritual counterpart in the subtle energy realms. This counterpart is a being who holds the pattern or blueprint for the perfect unfolding of the life in its care. I call these pattern-holders Devas…a Sanskrit word that means Shining Ones…As you get to know them and deepen your relationship with them, you can choose to partner with them consciously, to create your life, your business, and the world in which you want to live…Because you are an incarnate soul, all of these soul qualities are already within you, as seeds or potentials. Some of these qualities may be well-developed and readily accessible to you. Others may need to be strengthened and cultivated, for you to experience and express them more fully.
In this practice, you first get clear about your intention. My intention was:
I intend to be healthy, to radiate health, to dissolve the boundary between myself and health, myself and reality, to clarify my essence, to connect bodily with my basic goodness, for my body to be a manifestation of basic goodness, to embody health and well-being.
Then you select a card. The card I received?
Love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause.
Religious worship or action.
Feelings of ardent love.
Commitment to a purpose.
Profound dedication and loyalty, fidelity.
Hiro suggests that once you have received your Deva, that you “Ask for its support and partnership. Ask it to help you strengthen its quality within you, so you can embody it more fully” and that you “Act on the expanded vision and perspective you receive from your partnership with the Deva. Embody and express the quality of this Deva in your life today.”
So that’s it, isn’t it? Self-love is the key. And I am devoting myself to it.
I feel like this realization, this softening, this becoming, this commitment, this vow, this ongoing transformation needs a blessing, a benediction, a prayer, an offering. I can’t think of a better one than a poem the beautiful Julia posted this week on her Painted Path blog (go read it, if you haven’t already–if you are trying to learn to love yourself, she will help, she will remind you), “Like the Moon.” It’s the perfect thing to share here, to end this post, and I am hoping she won’t mind.
You are here in this world
to lay down the swords–the armor
to fall down laughing, to swing
amongst the stars
to lean into everything
that makes your heart flutter
to live with unapologetic brightness
like the moon