We live in a fear-based world. We are taught to “do as you would be done by” or to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Yet in the next instant, we are told that thinking of ourselves, of putting ourselves first, is “selfish.” On top of these contradictory and confusing messages, we often receive the message as little children that we are “not good enough” or that we are “unlovable.”
We can be our own worst critics and may not even be aware of how hard on ourselves we are being. Our internal automatic negative thoughts become unconscious; yet they have a power that is not to be underestimated. They can lead to low mood, depression and anxiety.
There is hope, however. With commitment and practice, it is possible to discover these negative automatic thoughts (NATs) and to transform them into thoughts stemming from kindness, compassion, and self-love. Our thoughts are so powerful that they can change our chemical make-up.
Here is a simple meditation exercise that you can do that will transform within minutes the way you feel about yourself. Try it and see for yourself. Notice how you feel before you do the exercise and notice how you feel afterwards.
With consistent practice, you can truly change your most important relationship: your relationship with yourself. Then you can watch how your relationships with others transform for the better as you experience the power of loving yourself.
- Take a moment to sit comfortably and just breathe. Take a few breaths in and out and simply observe your breath. Don’t try to change anything.
- Imagine an all-loving, benevolent presence, smiling down upon you. Feel the warmth of its loving gaze upon your face and upon your eyes. Let your eyes soak in the feeling of kindness, acceptance, and approval that is directed towards you. Feel the eyes soften and relax as they fill with the energy of this loving gaze.
- Imagine this loving energy as a golden light that floods your brain with goodness and harmony and love. Imagine the brain bathing in this beautiful healing light of love. Imagine the brain is suspended and resting in this energy as though it were floating in a fluid.
- Imagine this beautiful healing energy of love start to spread throughout your entire body, bathing each of your internal organs with a wonderful golden light. Picture your heart, lungs, liver, gall bladder, kidneys, bladder, stomach, spleen, pancreas, small, and large intestines, each to the best of your ability. |See each one receiving healing, loving energy.
- Eventually picture your entire body radiant in the glow of this magnificent loving energy. Rest here as long as you can.
Notice how your inner state has transformed. Tell yourself a positive statement such as “I am worthy of love”, or “I am loveable exactly as I am.”
The above meditation is a version of the ancient Taoist Inner Smile meditation as taught by Master Mantak Chia. It is one of the most foundational practices for developing self-love and as Master Chia himself says, “Love heals.”Registered clinical counselor Elizabeth Morelle says that this, combined with the practice of changing negative thoughts as they arise can be very health giving. “It is an investment of time that is well worth the effort,” she says.
Changing negative thoughts is one aspect of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT has been found in studies to be at least as effective as medication in reducing symptoms such as pain and negative mood in patients with fibromyalgia.
Loving yourself is an art that can work wonders for your self-esteem, your confidence, and your well-being. Let us know how loving yourself changes things for you!