“Every morning, I look in the mirror and have my first laugh of the day.”
This is a quote from my grandmother (may she rest in peace). In her later years, she would often repeat phases she had been known to say all my life; the quote above is my favorite.
I remember the night I discovered she had dentures. I was nine. I spent the night at her house and got up to use the bathroom in the night. In the dim light, I saw her teeth floating in a glass of water next to the sink. I was horrified; I had never seen teeth outside the mouth before. Stunned, I went to bed.
In the morning, Grandma made oatmeal and I sat watching her. I stared at her hands, her long fingers and blue veins bulging beneath thin skin. And her belly and shoulders round (I now understand, from carrying eight children). She was beautiful. What I remember most was her calm, comfortable presence. She was self-aware; she loved herself. This is why she was so good at loving me, even on my most challenging days.
We all need to honor our imperfect perfection and be filled with joy at the sight (thought) of ourselves. We are alive! Living from a place of complete acceptance and understanding, knowing our needs and taking an honest look at our faults (those parts of us that still need work) allows us to love unconditionally.
Forge ahead with the intention to love unconditionally and mindfully from a place of deep awareness… and never give up.
To remain safe and protected we need to know our boundaries, our needs and our triggers. If we don’t know ourselves it is very challenging to accept others as they are; instead all we see are their faults and how they challenge us. When we better understand ourselves, we know that the faults we choose to cling on to and obsess over in others are really reflections of parts of us.
The practice of self-discovery is not a selfish one; on the contrary, it serves all those we come into contact with. The more we understand ourselves (the ways we think, react and respond) the better able we are to make changes to improve our lives and those around us.
No one else is going to do that work for us. We are here to grow, evolve and become expansive expressions of love. Not everyone believes this and that is okay. We only need to focus on ourselves.
Practice Three: Commit to a journey of self-discovery.
Set a clear intention. It is very calming to remind ourselves why we are here (wherever here is at the moment).
Set aside time each day for self-care. When we are healthy, grounded and present we can better serve others.
Seek a teacher or spiritual leader to guide us, if needed, on a path to better know ourselves.
Connect with positive people who inspire us to awesomeness.
Watch/ read/ listen intently to what we take in through our senses—and choose mindfully.
What motivates us to change? To grow? Often it is pain, trauma or tragedy. But inspiration can motivate us, too. And love. And intention.
Yoga is an excellent path to discover our true nature and learn to deeply appreciate the self. There are other paths, but this is the one I know. Choose a path and stick to it.
Commit to the journey, embrace the adventure and each morning get up and have a good laugh (whether or not your teeth are in a jar).
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photo: Author with Grandma, age two