Too many people these days tell us the importance of “self-love.” But, what does this really mean, anyway? And how does one really do this, in a practical, day-to-day way?
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian science of health promotion and disease prevention, has many wonderful insights for the meaning and practice of self-love. My Ayurveda teacher, Acharya Shunya, once taught about how Ayurveda explores three primary relationships in life. One is our relationships with objects, including our car, clothes, computers, phones, televisions and teddy bears. Another primary relationship we all have is with other people. This is where family members, friends, partners, colleagues and acquaintances come into the picture. Then, there is a third relationship Ayurveda teaches us about which is the importance of cultivating, which is the relationship we have with our own higher self.
What is higher self:
Developing a strong foundation for a relationship with our higher self is critical not only to our spiritual journey, but to the prevention of many diseases, as Ayurveda recognizes the role that adverse relationships play in the creation of health problems of all
Developing a “designer relationship,” as Acharya Shunya would say, with our own self is really exciting, because, in doing so, we not only prevent all sorts of imbalances and to learn to fill ourselves up with what really matters. I have found that, in mindfully cultivating a relationship with my own higher self, I am no longer so hungry for the approval, love and attention of others. My ongoing studies of Ayurveda, Yoga and Vedanta with Acharya
5 Ayurvedic practices to find your higher self:
-Alone time: Having always surrounded myself with people for much of my earlier life, I have grown to appreciate the value and importance of solitude more and more with time. As with any other relationship, we have to really spend quality time with our own selves in order to find out who it is we are, and to be able to access our own deepest reservoirs of strength, power and potential. I truly feel that all the healing and transformation I have been able to undergo with Ayurveda (overcoming years of eating disorders, digestive disturbances, insomnia, anxiety and more) has been thanks to carving out the time and space for being by myself on a regular basis.
-Silence: I have found that the voice of my soul speaks most clearly to me in a space of silence. It is difficult to go inwards to access our deeper
All of my inner demons arise in the space of silence. So, too, do my deepest treasures, which we all, have to dig deeper and deeper to truly discover. Only in knowing what monsters lurk in the darker recesses of our psyches can we begin the process of loving them to death.
-Waking up early: It is not always easy to find time to be silent in the midst of family obligations, job requirements,
-Meditation: Meditation allows us to see that eternal, ever-present aspect of our self, that which is unaffected by age, change and all the many diverse cycles of life, including death. Through meditation, we can see what attachments we have to our body and/or mind that keep us trapped in our own internal prisons of sorrow and distress. As we delve deeper into our practice of meditation, we eventually can see that our so-called inner demons (our fears, worries, anxieties, anger or resentments)
–Being in Nature: Nature is one of the greatest healers. In Ayurveda, we strive to live as close to nature as we possibly can, through our daily and seasonal routines, foods, exercise regimens and other lifestyle practices. The way to achieve a state of health and balance changes throughout the course of the year. By spending time outdoors, we can start to observe how all of nature is in a state of continual change and renewal. We, too, undergo continual change in our human body suits and have the opportunity, through living close to nature with Ayurveda’s wisdom, to continually renew ourselves with nature’s healing powers. I personally love to spend time with animals, particularly dogs. I feel I learn so much from them, as they are always in a state of Yoga, which is definitely not just about asanas, but rather
As the poet Rumi once eloquently revealed: “Even after all this time, the sun never says to the earth, ‘you owe me. Look what happens with a love like that. It lights the whole sky.’”
May we all grow in our self-love so much that we, together, light the entire sky. Much love to you.