February 9, 2010

This Valentine's Day, take a lesson in self-care from your heart

Sacred scriptures tell us to love our neighbor as ourselves. But how can we do a good job of loving our neighbors, when we really don’t love ourselves very well? Taking care of our minds, our bodies and our spirits isn’t vain or selfish. The reality is that we can’t serve others from an empty cart. When we truly love ourselves, we find it more difficult to hurt other people, and easier to help others. Love for self is ultimately love for all.

In Nischala Joy Devi’s book, The Secret Power of Yoga, Devi says the best lesson on self-care is taken directly from the body and its heart. The heart pumps and distributes oxygenated blood faithfully, day in, day out, all through the body. Part of the body’s built-in wisdom is that the heart is always the first beneficiary of the newest, freshest oxygenated blood. That’s because the heart knows that it must care for itself first in order to fulfill its purpose to the body. It is sort of like the safety instructions we get from airlines when we fly: in an emergency, put on your own oxygen mask before attempting to help children or other dependents.

When we don’t care for ourselves lovingly, sometimes our bodies, minds and spirits send us an urgent memo. Yoga encourages better care of all our essential parts because it allows us to develop the habit of noticing what is going on long before our bodies, minds or spirits declare a state of emergency. When we feel tension, anxiety, physical pain, confusion, or lack of clarity, we can combine our faith with a regular yoga practice to meet these symptoms at their source and bring whatever ails us into better balance.

Here are a few great affirmations to encourage more love in your life.

I build my life on a foundation of love.

Love sets my priorities and helps order my steps.

When in doubt, I always choose the path that leads to love.

The tide of my love is unstoppable. It flows in and out without fail.

1 comment:

michela said...

Thanks for this post. Regular yoga practice helps me to keep the kinds of affirmations you mention top of mind, but once I leave the mat, they often get pushed out when "life" floods in. The affirmations you list can help hold back the tide, or at least, keep me from getting stuck in the mud. Thanks again. I'll check out Devi's book!