I continuously remind my restorative yoga students that any time you turn your attention inward—shining the light of your own awareness back onto yourself—is an act of self-love.
It’s that simple.
Your attention, constantly being pulled in every direction externally, is arguably your most valuable commodity in today’s fast-paced digital world. The question is, How much of your precious attention are you spending on yourself?
Taking the time to be with yourself signals to all parts of yourself that you care, that you yourself are worthy of your own attention. Whether that’s in a restorative yoga class, meditation or self-reflection, spending time in the company of your own being is a declaration of self-love in and of itself.
So what are you waiting for? Time to get busying showering yourself with attention and showing yourself some love with these three meditative practices from 24Life.
We live in an extremely externally oriented society. The majority of us spend most of our time with our awareness anchored on the world outside ourselves (reading, watching, scrolling, working, creating, listening, driving, etc.), paying little to no attention to the dynamic landscape of sensations, feelings and emotions that make up our rich internal worlds. Yet it’s our internal worlds that dictate so much of our experiences despite our external circumstances. For as much time as we spend outwardly focused, it’s worth spending at least some time becoming familiar with our inner terrain.
Enter the practice of pratyahara, or withdrawing the senses. We receive information from the world around us through our five main sense organs; withdrawing our senses from external stimulus gives our nervous systems a chance to unwind and our inner worlds to be heard.
Try practicing pratyahara in a restful restorative yoga position and become familiar with your inner world.
Maitri, or loving kindness, is a beautiful heart-based meditation for cultivating compassion and unconditional love for others—as well as yourself. The simple technique involves repeating affirmations—such as “May I (or they) be happy,” “May I be free of pain and suffering,” and “May I (or they) live with ease”—and really feeling the impact of those words. Try placing your hands over your heart, feeling the warmth under your palms as you repeat your well wishes.
Loving-kindness meditation may provide many health benefits, including many measurable physiological improvements. Research has shown that heart-based meditation increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions, including those related with stress. Hello, self-love!
Use this loving-kindness meditation to lower your stress and decrease negative emotions.
Tonglen mindfulness meditation
Psychology professor Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D., the first researcher to scan the brains of Buddhist monks during meditation, offers a specific form of mindfulness meditation to help transform your outlook on life: tonglen, from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition meaning “giving and taking.”
This meditation asks you to imagine the pain of others in order to come to terms with your own capacity for pain and healing. It might take a few times to get the hang of it, but when you can disassociate the feeling of this psychic pain with the content that caused the pain, you come to terms with your inner world in revelatory new ways. By envisioning the pain of others, you heal your own and develop a better relationship not only with yourself but also with those around you. You transform yourself and inspire others to do the same.
Bonus: In order to love yourself, you’ve got to spend some time getting to know yourself. Pull out your journal and ask yourself these 20 questions to help you discover what you love about yourself (even when you don’t like yourself).
Photo credit: electravk, Getty Images