Courage has been such a powerful theme this week in my classes that I felt the need to talk about it again. Yesterday was Valentine’s Day so I made the theme of “courage” a bit more specific.
On Valentine’s Day, class was titled ” The Courage to Love Myself.”
I saw people squeam (not sure if this is an actual word but it feels apropos.)
I use mantras in my class. When the hands come together in prayer, as they do so often in my yoga classes, you recite a silent mantra. Yesterday’s was ” I love myself.”
I saw people turn red and fidget. Not everyone of course. But the majority got uncomfortable.
We are generally taught that we don’t say that. Then, as we get older, we read self- help books and go to therapy to learn how to say that very thing. A conundrum to say the least.
I told my class not to confuse the mantra with ” I love myself more than _____” or ” I am better than ______”. Finding that love within ourselves so we can go out and shine our light, so we can, in turn, love others; that is what the mantra is about. Going back to Brene Brown, it is the courage to love ourselves with all our imperfections. The courage to be imperfect.
I opened the mirrors at Equinox. Something I NEVER do. I had everyone turn and face the mirror in a seated meditation. They were just to stare at themselves in the mirror and meditate on loving themselves, the highest part of themselves. And also the imperfect parts of themselves. All of themselves. And yes, I played Whitney Houston’s “I will always love you”.
To say it was powerful would be an understatement.
I will let you do it on your own to see what it was like, except, imagine 40 sweaty bodies sitting around you. I chose that song because yes, Whitney Houston passed away on Saturday evening and it can’t be lost on anyone that what she was singing about in so many of her songs, that very self-love, eluded her.
Sure, it was heartbreaking to hear her belt out: Bittersweet memories, that is all I’m taking with me. So, goodbye. Please, don’t cry.We both know I’m not what you, you need.
I thought it not only a gorgeous song and memory of Whitney, but a profound reminder of just how imperative it is, that no matter what, at all costs, we must love ourselves.
Look at the alternative.
I think of my own father. My father who was beloved to so many and yet failed to love himself deeply. I won’t go into detail here as I am writing a book, but suffice to say, self-abuse is what ended his life at such a young age.
If I could go back in time, which as you know if one of my great fantasies, I would go back as I am now, a teacher who creates a space for people to feel really good about themselves, who encourages them to let go of what is no longer serving them and mostly to laugh at themselves more often. I would remind my father of all the people who love him and who he is about to leave behind. I would beg him.
I would re-love him until he got it.
But the truth is, it may not make a difference.
Say I did have a time travel machine and I did go back, he may still do the same things he did in 1983.
The fact is, and the facts are very very important here, the fact is, that it starts within ourselves. We cannot try to grasp air in order to turn it into something solid you can use to live inside. We absolutely cannot poison our minds with venom and then blow kisses. We cannot expect to give away what we lack ourselves.
I tried. It does not work.
Facts are important and they are something we often try and change. The fact is my dad died at age 38. The fact is it in 2012. The fact is I went to NYU. The fact is my nephew has Prader Willi Syndrome. The fact is I live in Santa Monica. We may have opinions but facts are facts.
So look in the mirror. That is today’s Daily Manifestation Challenge. Say ” I love myself.”
Make it a fact.
Say: “I love myself even though _______ or despite _________.”
I asked my students last night how it made them feel, physiologically and emotionally when they said it to themselves. I know I feel a little corny, my heart races and I get red.
My question is: Why?
Why is it so uncomfortable.
I am bringing it way back into vogue, way into fashion and very very trendy to love ourselves.
Declare it below.
Say it until you mean it.
I love you.
I will leave you with the closing line’s of one of my favorite poems called “The Visitor” by Mary Oliver.
in which at last
I saw what a child must love,
I saw what love might have done
had we loved in time.
Thanks for this one today! It’s amazing how you always seem to strike exactly the note I need to hear. YOU are the music lady. Thanks!
Ah, this made me cry. I honestly would not be able to handle that looking into the mirror stuff. Maybe one day.
“Finding that love within ourselves so we can go out and shine our light, so we can, in turn, love others …”
It’s really odd, interesting & (enlightening if one is willing to extend one’s self), just how inspiring & healing your blog posts are, Jennifer. To me anyway. Realizing i’m just one dude out here, but it’s good enough that you take time to share so much of your energy. Obviously your intention comes across, gets through, is conveyed. I can feel it. It’s validating. It’s encouraging. Your compassion, empathy, love & real-ness are palpable.
Your light shines.
So what about this courage thing? Loving ourselves requires it, me thinks. And what is love? ha! A rather complex human thing. What does this mean, to be human?
This, for me, is the foundation of what it means to be human: We are all equally valuable spiritual beings. Others may choose to start wherever they like. : )
I’ve yet to find a better (for me) definition of love than M. Scott Peck’s. Paraphrasing from his book, THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED: “The will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”
Impossible to love another if one does not love one’s self. This is a hard one to really get. We hear it all the time but what does it mean? As Peck points out,
“Will is desire of sufficient intensity that it is translated into action. The difference between the two (desire / will), is equal to the difference between saying, ‘I would like to go swimming tonight,’ and ‘I will go swimming tonight.’ Love is as love does. Will implies choice. An intention and an action. When we exert ourselves in the cause of spiritual growth, it is because we have chosen to do so.”
We know love is a very complex thing. We do sometimes like to simplify & magi-fy (my neologism combing magic & magnify) love. Indeed, we sorta-kinda like to magify a lot of stuff in life. Just my opinion, but it seems there are some things it’s best to contemplate a bit. Discuss. Think about some more. Make notes. Study. Share. Learn. Grow. Not sure there’s anything more important than a lifelong curiosity & study of love.
I’ve been around (this time) for almost 60 years now. I’m still learning / curious / exerting / extending my self to my self and others for the purpose of nurturing spiritual growth. Lessons abound. There is no end point. None I’ve found, anyway.
You know that little Nietzsche quote? The one we hear / recite a lot? “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Well, just one man’s observation mind you, but it seems as if each lesson we don’t get, the tests for it get tougher & harder. One thing to consider considering: is it worth slowing down, getting some humility, admitting mistakes, forgiving one’s self, forgiving others (completely, thoroughly & for real), & if necessary, asking for help? so that each lesson is a new one rather than a tough old one we’ve avoided? I’m here (barely) to share with you, my own answer is “yes. Definitely.” When it gets really uncomfortable, slow down, be humble, admit mistakes, apologize, ask for help, allow yourself to love your self, nurture your self, & don’t worry about what others think or say or judge. Whether anyone else understands or not, we’ve each got to understand our selves first, just as we each need love our selves first. Indeed, the two go together, do they not? Love & understanding?
It’s cyclical too. There’s no one glaring, simple, easy, quick way. But it sure makes a huge difference if one can be around others who get it. It helps just knowing there are people out there who get it, even if they’re not around. haha… Others who care enough to be willing to extend themselves to nurture spiritual growth. Their own and ours as well.
And what does courage have to do with all this, one might ask?
Your blog posts convey the energy of someone who gets it, Jennifer. Someone who’s got the courage to share so much and to be, “a teacher who creates a space for people to feel really good about themselves, who encourages them to let go of what is no longer serving them and mostly to laugh at themselves more often.”
Yes, Jennifer. You go ahead and beg, encourage, share, prod, cajole, laugh, open up the mirrors, and make people squeam~! haha~! Love that~! Thank you for all you do, Jennifer~!
I realize this long comment doesn’t say much about my self so I’ll share this: I’m terribly stuck / ashamed / and disgusted with my self for being addicted to cigarettes. I smell like an ashtray but I’m a human being. I want to be healthier so i can enjoy life more, enjoy love more, give more love and be able to receive love should it come my way. Smoking is all the bad things we know it is. So okay. There. That’s one thing out in the open. Eff it. I’m squeaming.
beautiful words Jen! Thanks again
I love this post! The part about your dad, the Mary Oliver lines, the mirror meditation. I want to take your class.
Love this!! Just reading about looking into the mirror and saying I love myself made me anxious. However, because of that, I will do it tonight. I am really looking forward to your workshop here in Austin at BSY on the 25th!! You are so powerful in words on your blog, I can’t wait to feel that power in person!