Use this self-love mindfulness practice – with meditation, journaling and more – as a map while you take the journey back to your heart.
In Buddhism, the virtue of maitri can be interpreted as “unconditional loving-kindness” not only toward others but also toward ourselves. In yoga, “Yamas,” the first of the eight limbs, begins with ahimsa: non-harmfulness toward the environment, others and ourselves. Many people think of love as something we share with another. But the commitment to showing ourselves loving-kindness has always been at the very foundation of these ancient practices.
In my eyes, loving ourselves is necessary before we can learn to share our love, and practice non-harm, with the world outside of ourselves. The way we speak to ourselves, the food we use to nourish our bodies, the way we meet our emotions in the present moment – it’s all a reflection of how we love ourselves and the world around us. Maitri and ahimsa represent the very foundation of love. When we finally feel like we belong within our own bodies, that feeling of belonging opens the pathway back to our hearts.
A Self-love Mindfulness Practice
What does the word love mean to you? For me, just as the bubbles in a glass of cider dance away, love can create the same bubbly sensations inside one’s mind and body. It can be the heartfelt sense of emotions we experience when we finally feel like we are enough, like we simply belong. Whatever it feels like to you, if you follow that sense of belonging, purpose and enoughness, then you’ll find the way back to your heart.
When I asked each member of my family to describe what love means to them, the answers were as diverse as they were beautiful:
- Danica ~ Love is the abundance of being present with oneself. Forgiving myself and knowing I’m enough is love.
- Taylor, daughter ~ Love is unconditional support.
- Mariah, daughter ~ I think love means showing up, whether it’s romantic or platonic love. Just giving your time and being present for someone.
- Dakota, daughter ~ Love is loyalty.
- Devin, son ~ Love is understanding.
- My mama ~ Love is faithful. You can always lean on it and depend on it. It’s always there.
How do you describe love?
1. Self-love Mindfulness Practice: Meditation
Take a moment and come to a lying down position in savasana pose. Use as many blankets, pillows or props you feel will make your practice most comfortable.
Once you arrive, with eyes open or closed, notice the sounds around you. Notice the coolness or warmth of the air as it whisks across the skin. Begin to notice the inner quality of your breath with each inhale and exhale. Notice where in the body the breath settles.
I invite you to settle into the body, bringing your awareness to:
- the top of the head, the back of the head, behind the ears, the back of the neck, the tops of the shoulders and down the arms to the palms and fingers.
- Bring your awareness back up the arms to the shoulders. Let it move through the upper back and mid-back, and as you breathe in, imagine the back of the ribs filling up with each breath.
- Upon the exhale, soften into the surface beneath you just a little more, and feel it supporting you.
- Now bring your awareness into the lower back, sacrum, sit bones, back of the legs and souls of the feet. Draw your awareness to the toes, the tops of the feet, up the front of the legs, and to the right and left hip.
- Bring your awareness to the abdomen, center of the torso and the chest. Bring your awareness to the throat, the facial features and the top of the head.
Notice once again the quality of the breath. Notice the cooling or warming of the air as you breathe in and out. Stacking the hands, place one palm on the heart center and begin to introduce the mantra “I accept myself.”
In the silence between the inhale and exhale, behold the love that is there for you.
3. Self-love Mindfulness Practice: Journal Prompt
Once you’re ready, take out a pen and paper. Set a timer for 5 minutes, and once you start, try to write without stopping. Begin with the phrase:
In this very moment love means to me…
- Once the timer completes, read what was written. Pick the sentence that stands out the most to you.
- Set the timer for 4 minutes. This time, begin with the sentence you chose, and begin to write.
- Once the timer completes, read the written words, and once again, pick the sentence that stands out most to you.
- One last time, set the timer for 4 minutes, and begin with the sentence you just chose.
- Now, read through all three journal prompts, then pause. Let the words sit with you as you keep the eyes opened or closed – and notice the energy of the heart.
3. Self-love Mindfulness Practice: Ayurvedic Tips
One of the best ways to show your mind and body some love is by following a few simple ayurvedic principles. In ayurveda, health is the expression of a balanced relationship between body, mind, spirit and environment. As we transition from winter to spring, it’s important to support our bodies and minds. Here are a few seasonal tips to balance your dosha:
Vata Calming Tips:
- Try more warm, nourishing foods with oil or ghee. Add more sweet, sour and salty foods.
- Reduce foods that are cold, dry, pungent, bitter and astringent.
- Avoid high-caffeine and alcoholic beverages.
- Create more warmth in your environment.
- Give yourself daily abhyangas/massages with a warm oil, such as sesame oil.
- Create a nice daily routine, and bedtime should be early.
Pitta Calming Tips:
- Add cooling spices to your meals such as fennel, coriander and cardamom.
- Avoid hot spices. Use cayenne pepper, curry powder or chili powder for spice.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Take cool baths/showers.
- Take time to pause during work and practice breathwork, such as bringing awareness to the inhales and exhales. Notice the quality and pace of the breath, and notice what’s happening in the body for about 3-5 minutes.
- Eat meals on time each day. Make lunch the largest meal of the day.
- Try weekly massages/abhyangas using coconut oil.
Kapha Calming Tips:
- Add spices like mustard seed/oil, black pepper, cardamom, cayenne, cinnamon and cloves to your meals, as well as more pungent, astringent and bitter tastes.
- Create a daily routine incorporating walks, yoga or exercises to increase energy.
- Kaphas tend to sleep long hours. Try to get fewer hours of sleep.