Giving ourselves kindness and love can be difficult. With the busyness and stress of life, it’s not always a priority. At times we may go through a health crisis, making it challenging (if not impossible) to go about our daily activities. This serves as a reminder of the importance or self-care and self-love. Yet, still it can difficult to give ourselves what we truly need.
So what can we do?
The Little Things
Surprisingly, the little things can make a big difference! Spending even 5 to 10 minutes per day on a self-love activity can have a powerful effect. Dinacharya, meaning daily routine, are the daily practices Ayurveda advises for optimal health. There are more than 12 activities recommended which can seem quite overwhelming! In my own practice, I do some activities everyday and some just when I can.
One simple thing I love is the kala krithya moment (meaning realisation). Before getting out of bed in the morning, I take a moment to contemplate gratitude. Gratitude for a new day, a fresh slate. Gratitude for the breath I’m taking. Gratitude for this life. Gratitude itself brings a sense fulfilment and even peace. This expands the heart allowing us to experience our own love. This is also the time to set an intention or dedication for the day ahead. For example, “I intend for my day to flow easily and effortlessly” or “I intend to give myself the love and kindness I am seeking”.
Self-Love Through Presence
It’s in the present moment that we experience love. Although we may think of an event in the past or project into the future, love itself is always in the present. Through cultivating presence, whether through meditation, types of pranayama (breathing techniques) or mindfulness, we begin to find the richness in each moment.
One way to do that is through loving every bite!
An exercise I enjoy doing is mindful eating. Ayurveda says that digestion does not only relate to the food we eat but also to how we digest life on an emotional level. When we eat, we are digesting the food, the feeling it was cooked with and the emotional state that we are experiencing when eating it.
Growing up with two younger brothers meant eat fast or miss out. I had carried this into my adult life unconsciously for a long time! Although I may not remember to do it all the time, I now try to be really present when I eat, enjoying every mouthful and experiencing all the different tastes while chewing properly. Noticing the emotion I am eating with, I work to cultivate a positive feeling while chewing. As I take a bite of the meal, I intend it to be nourishment for my body and give myself love through eating this way.
Self-Love Through Self-Massage
Ayurveda emphasises the importance of self-massage (Abhyanga). What better way to express love for yourself than through tenderly massaging your self with oil! This works on the physical level by removing dryness, improving circulation, lubricating the joints and improving the quality of the body’s tissues. This sort of massage calms the nervous system, improves sleep quality and reduces stress.
On an emotional level, touch allows us to experience our own love. Massaging your skin with this intention can have a beautiful effect. You can massage a different part of your body each day so by the end of the week, your whole body is done.
Certain oils are more suited for different people. This is determined by your Ayurvedic constitution or prominent dosha. If you are unsure of your constitution you can take the quiz on the Shining Wellness website or book in for a consultation.
- For a vata body type use black sesame oil. Vata types require more massage than pittas and kaphas.
- For a pitta body type use coconut oil.
- For a kapha body type use mustard seed oil or sesame oil. Use a small amount of oil only.
We develop self-love through caring for ourselves. This is not just care of the physical body, although this is very important. It is taking care of our mind and emotions as well. The little things, such as contemplating gratitude (especially for ourselves) and being present to the richness of each moment add to our experience of love. As we feel more love within ourselves we experience more love in our life and uplift those around us and the world we live in.
Questions to ask yourself….
What do I do daily for myself as an act of self-love?
What do I feel I can do for myself? Even for 5 minutes a day.
What connects me to love?
How can I expand love in your life?
Feel free to contact me if you would like diet and lifestyle consultation unique to your Ayurvedic constitution.