The Mindful Path – Self-Love
By Marilyn Halpern, LSW, ACSW ~
“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde
February offers an opportunity for you to reflect on how you can develop lifelong self-compassion. Does your love and care extend more fully to your spouse, children, friends, and pets than to yourself? Self-love means you are willing to offer care and kindness on your best and worst days, when you are joyful, grieving, lacking, excelling, healthy, ill, euphoric, or sorrowful. Often people find self-regard can expand by developing and increasing your patience, curiosity, and self-respect. With a deep soulful breath, you can ask yourself a thought-provoking question, “Do I love myself?”
To foster loving-kindness, you can follow three guidelines.
- Be intentional. Begin each day with the intention of being patient and compassionate toward all you need to accomplish, endure or do during your day. If the demands of your day exceed your capacity to complete tasks, you might find yourself in a stressful situation. Setting realistic goals and practicing good time management can aid in curbing your feelings of being overwhelmed. Feeling grouchy? It may be time to pause and reflect on the acronym: HALT. Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired? By addressing basic needs, you can be happier and more productive.
- Take action. In your hurried life, your basic needs can be pushed aside for things that are seemingly more important. Has your own self-care been neglected? Today, you can take action to make a needed medical, dental or spa appointment for yourself. You can carve out time to exercise or take a brisk walk. You can make a commitment to eat food choices that support your health and wellbeing.
- Practice mindfulness. A mindfulness practice is an excellent way to nurture self-love.
To begin the February mindfulness exercise, feel free to set a timer for 5 – 30 minutes. Yes, carving out just five minutes will do wonders for your peace of mind! You can begin by taking three deep, cleansing breaths. Imagine filling your lungs and belly, feel the expansion of air in your chest. Your chest will expand from your ribs to your waist, continue breathing at a steady rate that is comfortable and relaxed
You can use the gesture of self-love by placing your hands over your heart. You will feel the warmth of your palm on your chest. Continue breathing full steady breaths as you allow your eyes to close or your gaze to soften. You will feel your breath calming and relaxing your body.
As you begin to relax, you can begin focusing on these phrases:
I am loved.
I have compassion for myself.
As you say the word “I” gently press your palm toward your heart. Repeat the phrases and deep breathing for the duration of your exercise. When the time is over, quietly sit for three more deep, steady breaths.
During the month, pay attention to the messages you send yourself. Is your self-talk encouraging or negative? Try to find opportunities to extend compassion and kindness to yourself. Self-love allows you to have better self-care and in turn that allows you to better love, nurture and help others. Often change for better health, stronger relationships, and a happier disposition starts with how we chose to treat ourselves. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Marilyn Halpern is the founder and executive director of Aspen Care Services. This locally owned business provides medical power of attorney, care management and professional guardianship services in the Denver Metro area. For more information visit – www.aspencareservices.com. Photo credit: Mara Ket