By Bevin Butler
Take a moment to look at a photo of yourself as a baby. When you were born, everyone’s hearts burst open. They knew a profound new capacity to love. Why? Because you arrived as pure essential love. You are love. I am love.
Sound woo-woo? Ask any parent what happened when their baby was born and universally you will hear that they knew a love they had never known before. That love is you; it is every baby who is born.
To know human love is to know self-love, and all that is required is to remember who we truly are. To be is to be love.
Sit for a moment. Breathe. Wait for the experience of stillness to wash over you, to settle into your system. Let it take time if it needs to. Breathe in. Hold. Breathe out. Hold. Let your breath slow down until you feel yourself here.
Feel your seat on the chair, feel your toes wiggle and your legs get heavy, allow yourself to drop your mind and settle into your body. Bring your consciousness to your chest. What feelings are here? What sensations? Can you remember a time when you felt loving toward another—perhaps a family member or pet? Or a time where you felt yourself loved? Take a moment to allow the experience of these memories to settle in. What happens in your body when you bring your awareness to these experiences? Can you allow love to wrap all around you, like a cloud or a blanket? Can you direct it into your stomach, which is the energetic center of self-love?
Any experience of a loving moment that you can feel in your body is the beginning of self-love. If you struggle with self-love, try a daily practice of opening your heart and letting that loving moment grow in your body until you start to feel love in more and more parts of you.
Naturally, as love grows, pain dissolves. So if there is a space where old pain is stored and where you cannot feel the love, bring even more love to that space to dissolve the pain.
To deepen the experience of love, if you have willing friends, gather them in a circle. Ask each friend to call in their own feelings and memories of love. Let everyone’s felt sense of love grow. Then, one by one, gently invite each friend to stand in the center of the circle and feel this growing bath of love. Soak in it, bring it within. As you practice, try allowing the love to settle into more and more challenging parts of you. Feel wrapped in love. Bring that experience with you as you leave the middle and rejoin the circle. As each person goes in and feels love, the strength of the love-bath grows. Repeat the exercise, over and over.
Heart-opening can be painful if we have had trauma, and we all have. Different parts of the body may be more comfortable with allowing love in; others will be uncomfortable or even painful. Allow the discomfort. Welcome it to stay. The more comfortable you are with the discomfort, the bigger it will get. And this is good. This is the pain finding room to be held and thus to expand until it melts or diffuses or wiggles its way out of your body. There may be tears or coughing or shaking. This is welcome. Allow the experiences.
If it feels too much, find someone who can provide guidance and support. If you can sit still and you can feel love in your chest and in your body? Wow, what a miracle. You’re starting to remember. You are love. This is the energy of self-love.