If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation. — Lao Tzu
Since the beginning of time, the mystery of life and eminently the search for the Self have pre-occupied the human psyche. Today, is no different and possibly the search has intensified due to our lack of inner guidance and our worldly ‘’mal-être.’’
Even in the recent past, Self-love has received a bad rap. The common thesaurus equates Self-love with conceit, arrogance, vanity as well as narcissism. This alone is proof that our society’s lack the understanding and value of such a monumental building block of whom we truly are.
Due to this association we have been taught, trained and conditioned to seek the truth outside the realm of the Self by devouring stacks of books, consulting crystal balls, and absorbing the wise words of those that say they ‘’have lived and know us so well.’’ Our gardeners, friends, yoga teachers and even our hairdressers become our guiding gurus. They seem to hold the golden key that unlocks the answers to who we should be and what we should do. We blindly allow them to make important decisions for us, naively believing that they know us better than we know ourselves. In doing so, we disempower ourselves by empowering them. We loose confidence in our own capacity to discern and ignore our own inner voice while finally making decisions that are founded on someone else’s experiences and projections, and far too often than not, we deviate from our path.
The more this becomes our vasana, or habitual tendency, the more we ingrain this habit into the fibres of who we externally are and the downward spiralling effect results in low self-esteem, instability and at its core, unhappiness.
Facing the change of today’s demands, we have little choice but to look elsewhere. In our own personal account, we have witnessed years of this behavioural dysfunction with little sequel. I once read that we are not human beings in search of spiritual experiences but in truth, spiritual beings in search of human experiences. When life’s human experiences are embraced with a humble yet curious non-judgemental spirit we then begin to plant the seed of self- acceptance and Self-love.
Although universal love is the origin of our roots and what this planet desperately needs in order to heal its apparent suffering, Self-love is where this process must begin. Sacred moments of stillness remind us of our universal origins and interdependent connection but Self-love is the foreign truth that our humanness has yet to really embrace. Through our humanness of every day living, life offers us a multitude of moments to cultivate Self-honour. There are no shortcuts and no one can do the work for you. Moving towards universal love without addressing Self-love is synonymous to scoring 4th base before learning the tenderness of that first kiss. Without, universal love becomes a letter of excuse to procrastinate and hide from the ultimate work of self -awareness that must be addressed in order to tap into our heart of being.
In the likes of Anusara Yoga, Acro Yoga, kirtan and others, incontestable in their benefits in fostering universal love, the paradoxical truth is that after the high has waned of basking in the flow of grace, so many are still left disillusioned by the temporal feeling of that euphoric bliss of yesterday. Today, all that is left is a lingering bad taste of familiarity, a gnawing feeling of emptiness. Could that empty feeling be our soul’s calling to be heard, cherished and loved?
In light of yoga, we might courageously ask ourselves if self-study or Svadyaya, the 4th Niyama of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga is the founding intention behind our sadhana, or practice. Most balanced practices enhance to some extent our relationships with the outside world but only specific practices earnestly address the notion of self-study and thus the importance of Self-love. It is one thing to extend love to a difficult neighbour but can we extend love to ourselves unconditionally? Are we ready to listen to our inner voice and make it stronger than the voice of those that prefer we live in their light? These questions and the study that accompanies them is the cornerstone to inherent happiness. The guru outside becomes replaced with the guru inside, your faithful guide who has always been waiting to be heard.
What would this world be like if the 7 091 666 596 inhabitants of this planet could hear their inner voice and knew the boundless joy of Self –love?