Stories of Self Love: Making Room for Love in Your Life (Starting With You!)
by Cindy Palzkill
I believe it’s safe to say that the Beatles had it right when they sang All You Need is Love…and most of us know we need to love ourselves first. And, if we think about it, loving ourselves really would solve a plethora of the problems of the universe, starting with each individual. Let’s take a moment and imagine, as John Lennon suggested, what if everyone felt comfortable prioritizing self-love with no guilt attached whatsoever? Think of all that anxious energy we send out to the universe when we’re stressed, resentful or tired beyond belief, that just wouldn’t exist. Think how much kinder we’d all be, not to mention thoughtful and understanding of one another’s perspectives, with hardly any effort at all. Can you envision a busy, stress-filled day, when someone sends their stressed-induced criticisms your way, just thinking, “hmmm, I wonder if he/she got enough sleep last night,” instead of letting it put a damper on the rest of your day, if not week. Indeed, making room in our lives to love ourselves is really a big deal.
So how does that work…this “loving yourself” business…and who has the time anyway? As a matter of fact, Drunk Yoga®’s fearless leader, Eli Walker, set out on a journey to answer this question not long ago, traveling through India and Thailand for 6 months in pursuit of her own life purpose.
Recently, she shared a memory of that trip that went like this-- she was sitting in a Satsang in India (spiritual gathering for discourse on truth, in case you didn’t know) and the guru was explaining how we need to love ourselves first before we can love others. Feeling a bit frustrated by yet another lecture on ‘loving ourselves’ and feeling quite sure she wasn’t the only person in the room feeling the same way, she raised her hand. When acknowledged, she asked, “But…how do we love ourselves?” Well, this old Indian yogi with a white beard down to his waist…laughed. Yep. He actually laughed. He then answered, “Do you have a favorite lotion? Yes? Buy it.” Not to be deterred from the seriousness of her quest for the meaning of life, Eli contemplated his answer for the rest of the Satsang and longer. She came to this conclusion – loving yourself can be pretty simple and pragmatic. It doesn’t have to be an esoteric search for thyself. It really is part of the details of everyday life.
In Michelle Obama’s memoir Becoming, she talks about feeling “not enough” even as a young child. Now Michelle Obama has shown the world that she’s capable of tackling massive goals (see Drunk Yoga blog dated January 22, 2019), so for her to struggle with self-esteem seems proof that self-doubt is a universal human struggle. She tells the story of when her high school graduation was approaching and she met with a school guidance counselor to discuss applying to colleges. When she expressed her choice of Princeton and the guidance counselor suggested she might not be up to it, she admitted to fuming in the moment and thought, “I’ll show you.” Then, she “settled down and got back to work” on getting herself admitted to Princeton. She did not allow someone else’s suggestion that she may fail deter her.
Obama shares that she continued to wonder “Am I good enough” through her college years and beyond. She describes herself as a working mother feeling strong in her ability to juggle all her responsibilities. Still, she wondered, “Does everyone see that I’m pulling this off.” She kept at it, though, showing up for her family and expanding career, eventually taking on the challenge of First Lady of the United States. Becoming tells the story of how Michelle Obama eventually realized she is indeed “enough.” So how did she find the will to keep going, becoming an empowered woman who helps others do the same? It turns out, along with a lot of hard work, she answered her self-questioning with the phrase, “Am I enough, Yes I am!” A simple phrase, two important words – I Am – said with love can be so powerful.
It turns out one of the very best ways to love ourselves is arguably the simplest, in theory anyway. That is, sleep. Science has proven that it’s more important than ever in this age of technology to give our brains some downtime. Sleep allows our brains to process information, thus helping us gain perspective and recognize meaning in what’s going on in our lives. An interesting read on this topic is Tony Crabbe’s Busy: How to Thrive in A World of Too Much. Here’s a quick video overview of what his research uncovered. His insights into the importance of letting our brains have the downtime only sleep can provide is motivating to re-evaluate our sleep habits. If you’re a person who has trouble prioritizing sleep, creating before bed rituals is a wonderful way to ease an overloaded mind toward rest. These can be as uncomplicated as dimming lights earlier in the evening, bathing right before bed, or making it a ritual to read right before turning out the light. What better way to love ourselves than to give our brains a rest!
Now, we at Drunk Yoga understand that you don’t have to be a globe-trotting yogi or one of the more inspiring former FLOTUS’s to be deserving of self-love. Indeed, caring for ourselves is the first step in becoming a person who makes the world a kinder, more loving place. Furthermore, it seems enlightened gurus and scientists alike agree: self-care does not have to be complicated. So find that favorite lotion, create that mantra, call a friend, attend a Drunk Yoga class 😊– it’s not the size of the gesture we give ourselves and others, it’s the intent (ahem, love) behind it.