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 are developing a lifelong romance with yourself. 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 true compassion and kindness on your best and worst days, when you are joyful, grieving, lacking, excelling, healthy, ill, euphoric or sorrowful. You can expand your capacity for self-compassion by increasing your patience, curiosity and self-respect. You can ask yourself a simple, thought-provoking question, “Do I cherish 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.
- 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 or dental 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 10 – 30 minutes. 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.
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 the phrases:
I am cherished
I am loved
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. During the month, pay attention to the messages you send yourself. 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.
Marilyn Halpern is a geriatric care manager and guardian in the Denver Metro area. To learn more visit www.aspencareservices.com or call 720-724-0000.