While we are on the journey to find out who it is we want to be, we often become distracted by outside influences. Whether it’s a reality TV show, social media networks or simply the feeling of envy, these factors deter us from finding self acceptance.
I have always struggled to find self love and it was only when I realized that I was looking in the wrong places for happiness and acceptance, that the solution became more clear to me.
All my life I have been comparing myself to others. It seems that this competitive nature is the main focus in our society. Sadly, though many of us feel pain comparing ourselves, we don’t realize that is exactly the toxic habit preventing us from a balanced state.
I’ve been in competitive sports all my life and there was a constant emphasis placed on “being better” than my competitors. Only when I left the competitive sports behind and delved into the world of yoga did it dawn on me, that’s not the only way to think.
Yoga is not something only for hippies or those who can afford a pair of Lululemon pants.
Yoga is a way of life, an inner focus, a self loving philosophy.
Yoga is for everyone.
During my first few classes I was shocked to hear my teachers saying to accept my body’s limitations and focus on myself—not anyone else. I admit, a year and a half later I still catch myself comparing my neighbor’s bow pose to my own—but that is the beauty of this journey.
We are constantly evolving; the goal is not perfection but simply to accept our imperfections and improve a little bit each day.
As I got deeper into the world of yoga, I was introduced to Buddhism. Through this philosophy I learned about the practice of metta, unconditional, loving kindness. Metta is one of the four great virtues emphasized by the Buddha. What is important to understand about metta is that it is a practice—self love cannot be cultivated overnight. Much like we work on our asana practice, we have to devote the same time and passion into developing love for ourselves.
As much as we need to spread love to one another, we must first learn to love ourselves—no matter what.
To be able to look into the mirror and say, “I accept my self unconditionally, in this moment.”
It doesn’t matter what our circumstances are, we are exactly where we need to be at this moment—we are enough.
We focus so much on what we do not have that we forget we already have everything we need. In a country where capitalism rules, it is difficult not to get caught up in “needing” something outside of ourselves—some circumstance, person or tangible object that we think will bring us happiness.
I’m here to tell you, it won’t bring any kind of lasting, true happiness. We cannot seek fulfillment from these things, if we do, we will not ever truly feel fulfilled.
“When we truly find peace, it will be from being, not from having.” ~ Henry Miller
We are so much more than our skin, our body, our outside shell. We are more than our current job, possessions and circumstances. We are beautiful, divine spirits that nothing can contain, with the potential to do amazing things.
We can’t expect to create a balanced outer world until we first find peace within ourselves.
I like to think of my self love journey like cleaning a dirty window. It is hard to see the beauty of the outside world when there is dirt blocking the view. Just like it is hard to appreciate the beauty of our lives, our very existence, with material things and circumstances blocking our vision. All we need to do is clean our window and our mind to see the beauty in front of us.
So when you find yourself comparing, close your eyes, you already have everything you need within you. Remember that you are the best version of yourself—stay within yourself.
“Peace comes from within, do not seek without.” ~ Buddha
Maja Despot is a college student trying to figure out her place in the world, while making a positive impact. She’s a veggie, a blogger and mother of a feisty puppy named Minnie, whom she absolutely adores. She enjoys yoga, crafts and learning. Maja came to United States in 1997 from the former Yugoslavia. Six months later she was fluent in English. She’s currently studying Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago and hopes to use it to give back to the refugee community.