Deepening Self Love
I had a stop-over in Los Angeles for 4 days, so my friends Ava and Angela thought it would be fun for us to do a day event together. It was February so the theme of love is all around us in this month. Often we externalise this concept of love, but do we take the time for the layers of loving ourselves? We decided to delve into this idea with a group of women.
Take the time to discover the ways in which you love yourself, truly.
International Healer & Teacher
Angela is a wonderful healing private esthetician and Ava a private chef specialising in raw vegan nutritional meals. Three women who all love healing others in our own ways, it would be fun. The challenge was that I had not visited Los Angeles since 1996, so had no local client following and the others do not work with public groups of people to shout about our event. We all agreed that this was going to be interesting and fun.
Ava and Angela suggested we push that I am an 'international teacher and healer' - A slightly strange concept to me. Yes, I teach on retreats and travel but I did not connect this to such a title: I had not embraced myself fully in this role. This was my self-esteem rearing it's head and devaluing my lifestyle of working on international award-winning retreats. I felt a bit awkward but recognised it's truth and asked our designer to include it on the posters.
Embrace the loving perceptions others give you and take ownership of them.
We discussed the aspects of self-love that we each felt important. I designed the schedule for the day and how each element would be encompassed in the activities. Structuring a retreat, workshop or content delivery of a class is always quite easy for me as I tap into the energy of the event and can feel the flow of the day. I learnt that this is part of energy work to 'time travel' into situations and events.
A teacher or healer in mind-body-soul work can only offer as much as they know. In the months before I took note of my self-love challenges. This included worries about what people in Los Angeles would think of me. There are so many leaders in the field in LA and how could I compare? What could I offer that was unique or special?
This self-doubt is normal and I am well-trained to acknowledge it, then set it aside and get on with my learning. How could I deepen my lessons to bring to the day? How can I hold space for embracing self-love whilst I face my own struggles?
I used my personal practices of card reading, meditation, mind-body movement and writing to delve into my self-love blocks. The anniversary of my accident is always a reminder of milestones achieved in the years - it was 5 years that I had first allowed myself to embrace self-compassion. For me, this is always the place to start with discovering self-love.
Self-love always begins with self-compassion.
Landing Into Love
I arrived in Los Angeles to treats of love from Ava as she nurtured me with nourishing foods and drinks. We prepared for the day and discussed who was coming, how we would work together and what the details were of the food and activities. This is functional but also key to reassuring each of us that we are within our comfort zones.
We arrived on the Saturday morning to a perfect day of weather. The park was so inviting and Angela's house a sanctuary of loving light. To be with two other healers of love through beauty of the body, through skin and food, was such a blessing for me. Angela was so warm and generous in opening her house.
Crystal healers, Kathi and Karen, arrived with such grounded and strong energy to hold space for everyone. As they laid out rose quartz bowls and blankets across the park and house, we could all feel the love of the crystal energies bubbling around us. The space was loving, open and defined for us to share in a sacred way.
Define a space for you that nourishes you fully: the feeling that your inner child gets a hug.
Open Your Heart Inward
I did no introductions of the group when we sat down together. Delving into self-love was not about outwardly stating to others what we need from ourselves, but discovery of quiet and often disregarded feelings from deep within. Those feelings that we run and hide from in our 'busy' lives.
First, we picked intention cards and there was a brief discussion of reactions. It was noted that we do not always see what we need to address and sometimes we need to sit with something until it becomes clear as to why it applies to us. Life lessons are often like this. It takes space and quiet to discover the full lessons.
We practised a heart opening yoga class that focused on lifting the heart with proper boundaries for self-love. Clearing the space in the mind and body to release energy, and connect to each other, the space and inward.
Opening your heart is to yourself, and then the world follows.
Love is a Magical Story
From a heart glowing meditation I asked each to write their life as a fairy tale. I love fairy tales, especially Brothers Grimm! The characters that we create represent key relationships in our lives and how we perceive them. The unfolding of the story is our view on our struggles in life and the outcome the joy we are permitted to live in eternally.
To my pleasure, everyone had a positive story to tell afterwards. My favourite was "At the end I was on my deathbed and when asked how my life was I replied, "Perfect"". You could see in her face that she would not have expected that ending to her story.
We then enjoyed an amazing lunch full of cacao, the heart opening medicine of food. As everyone chatted and asked questions, and I realised how much people wanted to know about my story. As someone who travels and always meets new people, you repeat your story a great deal. We all love a good story, that is why I chose the Fairy Tales stories for the group, yet sometimes I feel that in telling stories we perpetuate our struggle.
It has taken time, space and healing to tell my story without the emotions and thoughts stirring up. To find the words and story that is the true discoveries I have learnt. The key to telling your own story is from a place of love - the Fairy Godmother compassionately supportive for the highest loving outcome.
Save your story until it is infused fully with compassion for the greatest good.
Mirrors Reflect Back Love
The afternoon had everyone in pairs. With music on they moved as each other's mirrors, encouraged to let themselves be free from judgment. It was beautiful to see the freedom that they all danced with in the park, the laughter it produced and connections building.
Following the dancing, each wrote up to 5 words or statements to the other about what they saw in the other person. We then discussed the responses from the words. Some shared more of their story than others, others provided guidance from their journeys. All of the group had deep touching connections and life lessons shared yet without the dramas of the stories dragging the energy down from high vibrations of love.
We surround ourselves with our reflections. It is why when we make a significant shift in our life towards a higher vibration, we have to say farewell to some. Overall, the reactions were in two camps: (i) 'overwhelm' at being told something wonderful about them, or (ii) 'affirming' that they had achieved aspects they had worked on themselves for some time. Use the reflections from others to recognise what you already have and how you can grow.
When someone compliments you, say 'thank you' and allow it in.
An amazing love-filled cacao cheesecake ended our day. The women sat and chatted for over an hour to process the lessons and their specific stories. We can be aware that we are stuck or have more inner work to do when we cannot stop telling our story; when we struggle to see the story through another character's eyes.
For me, I was amazed. This wonderful group of women had been so open, supportive and loving. There was such a depth of willing to embrace loving themselves. Yet, often the limitation was a focus on helping others. Whatever you wish to call someone 'empath, nurturer, mothering, healer, etc' - these are all people we perceive as giving to others.
As all safety precautions warn us, take care of yourself before others. We must embrace self-love to set boundaries that respect what we need. From only this place can we offer support and love to others for healthy relationships.
Before you tell a story, stop. Tell the story in a way that makes you feel nourished and loved.
I am doing more workshops this summer in London, UK and Toronto, Canada (details to be confirmed). They will explore a range of alignment themes around balance, slow motion movement and emotional connections in the body.