by: Michelle Finerty
Self-love. It is the foundation of a happy life and yet, at times, is so hard to hold on to. So, what is self-love? While some consider self-love to be conceited, the Yamas and Niyamas of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras teach us that self-love is a combination of ahimsa (non-violence) brahmacharya (non-excess), and santosha (contentment).
Whether these are new concepts to you or you are well-versed in the yamas and niymas, let’s delve deeper and explore the application of putting them into everyday life.
When we hear non-violence, we think of not committing a violent act toward others, but this also means not being violent towards ourselves - in thought, word, and deed.
This may sound easy, but when I really stopped to pay attention I realized I was my own worst enemy, as I was constantly bombarded by seeing the negative in every situation. To put ahimsa into practice for you, take time to pause at some point throughout each day. If you notice negativity and doubt, change the voice in your head to positive thoughts by finding three things to be grateful for about you and your life.
When I think of non-excess, I think of balance and how we’re all trying to maintain a balance between the activities that fulfill us and the demands of life. Due to the push and pull of our daily schedules, social interactions, and unexpected circumstances that can add stress, it is hard to remember that impermanence is the flow of life and it’s not always what is going on in our lives, but how we handle the situation that matters.
When you feel out of balance, take the time to check in to where you are at in your mind and body and bring awareness to where you are holding tension. From that point, allow your breath to flow into those spaces and find release.
As humans, contentment can be an elusive concept that seems just out of reach. There is always something we are striving for, whether it is finding the dream job, being the perfect parent, getting into shape, or achieving our latest goal. There is always something else we want in our lives. While it is good to set goals and be the best we can be, it is also good to assess our reasons for pursuing the next big thing and take the time to appreciate the moment.
By being more mindful in our actions, we can be grateful for what we have, as well as all of the hard work it took to get there, and start to accept ourselves the way we are, acknowledging the lesson in each experience.
By tuning into the lessons of yoga and putting the concepts of ahimsa, brahmacharya, and santosha into practice on a regular basis, you can build a foundation of self-love and keep it strong, maintaining mindfulness and compassionate awareness to handle anything that comes your way.