We recommend that this is the only New Year’s resolution you make this year. Self-love is simply a way to become a better version of yourself.
When was the last time you listened to your inner voice? Maybe you busted yourself for sounding harsh and discouraging? You’re not alone. Self-love is definitely something we tend to forget more often these days. Maybe 2020 is the year you start to pay attention to how you really speak to yourself in different situations. Already becoming aware of your inner speech is a great start on a path to appreciating yourself a bit more.
But what is self-love anyway? Our friend, yoga teacher Marika Lindroth, knows: “It basically means self-compassion and self-acceptance. People who tend to have self-love are connected with themselves and, most importantly, act on this knowledge. But by learning how to work with yourself, you also become sensitized to compassion towards others. When you actually are well-connected with yourself, you become a whole. It is that simple.
Having self-love in your life is especially valuable when you face more difficult times. It works as a protective armour when you have those agonising ideas. But to actually perceive self-love, it takes a lot of persistent practice on a regular basis. And it’s not always easy: “It is really important to accept also the sore thoughts and feelings you might have. You shouldn’t try to push the difficult things away. They’re part of humanity, part of the monkey brain we still have. Even Dalai Lama has anxieties. If that is not comforting, I don’t know what is”, Marika Lindroth says.
Get going with these easy practices:
2-minute self-love meditation
This easy practice can be done during the day in the office, or even in a bus on the way to work.
Take a good position: sit on a chair or on the floor, legs crossed. Close your eyes. Place your other arm to your chest and try to breath towards the arm. Now, feel how your chest moves. Feel the warmth your body generates. Follow the movement of your body. Repeat 2x5 deep breathing cycles (5 cycles = 1 minute).
Marika’s tip: This practice is super simple yet calming. The point is to slow down and listen to yourself. The touch releases oxytocin and endorphins in your body. The area of your heart is in link with our feelings. You can sense your breathing, which confirms the connection with yourself. You exist.
Metta literally means the meditation of loving-kindness, friendship and feel-good. It’s an easy way to add self-love and awareness, evoking lovely warm-hearted gratitude towards people around you. In this practice, you’ll concentrate on your breathing while in turn, goodwill is addressed to yourself and others.
Again, take a relaxed position: sit on a chair or on the floor, legs crossed. Close your eyes. Deepen your breathing and try to sense how your body feels. Let your body relax more with every exhale.
Metta is first practised towards oneself, because everything starts from appreciating yourself first. Repeat slowly in your mind: May I be happy. May I be well. May I be safe. May I be peaceful. Repeat a few times and if your mind starts to wander, concentrate on the message of the phrases.
After you feel you have found the connection with yourself, bring to mind a friend or a person you feel gratitude and goodwill for. Mentally repeat: May you be happy. May you be well. May you be safe. May you be peaceful.
Next bring to mind someone you don’t know really well but maybe face every day, a bus driver or a cashier at your local supermarket. Mentally repeat the phrases again and address goodwill to this person.
When you feel ready to move on, bring to mind someone you maybe have had negative feelings for in life. In this practice, you guide yourself to feel your self-acceptance towards others, also inconvenient people. The metta meditation might cause opposite feelings, such as disappointment, grief or sadness. Take these to be signs that your heart is revealing what is jammed there.
Marika’s tip: By this practice, you can easily test what you have actually learned and extend your self-love towards other people as well.
Self-hugging Supported Child's Pose (Balasana)
There are also many physical ways to practise and strengthen compassion and self-love. Physical exercises like mellow stretching, a touch or a warm shower are all good ways to soften the body and the heart. This primitive and calming pose forces you to slow down and strengthens the connection to your feelings.
Set a yoga bolster or a pillow in an upright position on the yoga mat or blanket. Bring your big toes together, and your knees apart.
Bend forward in child’s pose letting your belly rest on the pillow. Wrap your arms on the end of the pillow, like you would hug it.
Place one ear on the pillow and close your eyes.
Marika’s tip: Sitting at a computer for hours can lead to bad posture. Body positions might have surprisingly big influence on our feelings. Supported child restorative yoga pose relieves tension especially in the lower back.
Marika Lindroth instructs yoga classes for adults and children i.a. in Yoga Studio Roots Helsinki.