This past month has been one of the toughest emotional and mental periods of my life. I’ve had challenges coming in from all fronts – from figuring out what’s next for my life, to feeling claustrophobic about my schedule, to my personal relationship. So I’ve been taking this past week to focus on self-love and figure what that actually means. (I think “practicing self-love" sounds very vague and abstract…) I’ve been meditating a lot, doing yoga, and reading When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron – an American woman turned Buddhist monk.
The meditation that I do best describes how I feel at this moment: I feel whole.
When I meditate, I visualize myself as an empty vessel, an outline of a person. And with each breath I take, I inhale golden white light, patiently filling in all the crevices and air bubbles in my body. I do this body scan until I fill every inch of my body with this bright light – which is warming and kind and a metaphor for self-love. When I’m done meditating, I feel whole and joyful, and I feel so much love, acceptance, and respect for myself and those around me.
This week has been an insane roller coaster ride of emotions – with drastic lows and drastic highs. Out of this week, though, I’ve experienced a spiritual (emotional and mental combined) breakthrough. I got closer to truly understanding the Buddhist saying: “You are not your emotions.” What I’ve come to realized is that emotions are temporal, finite events. They come and go like waves, but, once they’ve passed, I’m still here. I’m still a whole, complete human being filled with light and love. My outline has not been altered or tarnished by the emotions that have just passed over me.
Through this new understanding of self-love and how I can practice it, I’ve been able to better assess and objectively view the situations that are going on in my life. I feel like I’m closer to seeing the full truth in all of these situations. (Truth defined as seeing things objectively without projections of personal emotions onto the situation.)
Here is what I see. I need to press the reset button on my personal relationship and take some time off for myself in order to recenter. I realize that I no longer want to be known as the "hardest working person” among my friends and family. I know that I can hustle, and other people know that I can hustle. I don’t need to prove that 24/7. I don’t want my life to be a constant sprint. I think life is closer to a marathon with sprints built in. Rather, I want people to think of me and say, “Wow Nina. You have so much love and respect for yourself, and you take the time to do what matters to you.” That’s what I want to be known for.
I also see that I don’t need to exert so much pressure on myself. Everything will work itself out, and I don’t need to burn myself out trying to get answers now so that I don’t have to feel uncomfortable with the unknown.
This past week, I’m grateful for the people who have been there to support me through everything. They’ve given me the words with which to better understand myself and what's going on, and, in trying to articulate and communicate how I feel, the process has also helped me find my own words. With all of these new wordings and thoughts, I’m able to create a clear narrative that helps me cope with everything that is going on and find peace. So in truth, (pun intended) my joy is a result of both self-love and love from others.
I know that self-love is a constant, life-long endeavor. I haven’t just leveled up as a human being and from now on, things will be all happy and peachy and easy for me. Rather, it’s more like every day, I start back at Level 1, and I have to commit to working towards truth and clarity for that day.
I’m so grateful to be on this journey, and I wish myself and everyone else peace and joy on the path of self-love and acceptance.