I channel peace, my bare feet firmly rooted to the ground.
I feel my breath moving, strong and deep. My eyes focus, both seeing and unseeing, looking inward. I move into tree pose slowly, savoring the transformation of myself into a steady oak, reaching toward an open sky. Stretching upward and inward all at the same time. I brush my fingers against my power and peace.
I love myself in this place, barefoot and bare-faced, my hair still messy from the night before. The morning sun is beaming now on my small garden, and the air is still cool even though soon it will be shimmering with heat.
I hold this moment with mindfulness, and I am conscious of a breeze touching lightly against the bare skin of my arms. I feel the sweep of my hair brushing across my face, and I hear the happy trill of birds in the trees above.
I breathe in deeply, enjoying the scent of lavender and rosemary and the underlying fragrance of ripening tomatoes.
It’s easy to love ourselves on days like this, when we find ourselves in a place of perfect peace. Even barefoot with a bare face and messy hair, I can love myself here. I can feel beautiful, powerful, and grateful.
But do we give that love to ourselves when we have bags under our eyes from a sleepless night or when our hair looks like it was fixed by electrocution? (Thank you humidity!)
Do we offer this love freely to ourselves when we fall or fail, when we’re weighted down by loss, or chained by rage? Can we find this love in our deepest darkness, or have we reserved it only for our light? Have we become fairweather friends to ourselves?
It’s funny how we so often give love away to others with an ease we deny ourselves.
When those we love have a difficult day, we can remind them of their light and love them without condition. We can help to buoy them when they feel they’re sinking, and we do it without reservation. But what do we do when we’re sinking? Can we turn our focus to all that’s good about us or do we channel our energy into staring deeper into the dark?
How do we take our fair-weather love and turn it into absolute, unconditional love for ourselves? We can be guided by the words of Rumi as he reminds us of the universe within us and how our darkness is a transformative tool for manifesting our light.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
“You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”
“What hurts you, blesses you. Darkness is your candle.”
“Do you know what you are?
You are a manuscript oƒ a divine letter.
You are a mirror reflecting a noble face.
This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself;
everything that you want,
you are already that.”
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”
“What you seek is seeking you.”
“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.”
“Everything in the universe is within you. Ask all from yourself.”
“Set your life on fire. Seek those who fan your flames.”
“Why do you stay in prison, when the door is so wide open?”
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”
“This is love: To fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.”
“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”
I want to find a way to wrap up that feeling of being bare-faced and barefoot, standing in tree pose in my garden with contentment in my heart. I want to hand that feeling to myself when I feel flawed and broken and unlovable.
I want to hold on to that gift and unwrap it gently when I’m feeling fragile, peeling back the wrappings to reveal my own essential worthiness. I want to love myself in that place and know that I am of value even when life feels dark and hopelessness is beating at the doors of my spirit.
This is the place where we need to love ourselves the most. We are worthy of a deep and unconditional love.
Why don’t we gift it to ourselves when it is always in our power to do so?
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Ariana Prestes/Unsplash
Editor: Lieselle Davidson