Throughout the BIG LOVE Challenge, participants were invited to try exercises on self-love and self-appreciation. We get a LOT of emails and comments from people saying that they find this to be the most difficult aspect of the challenge and I’d like to explain how the meditative exercises can help with this over time. (If you’re reading this and don’t know what the BIG LOVE Challenge is, you can read about it here: www.biglovechallenge.org)
Meditation enables us to detach from, or let go of, undesirable thoughts and feelings. We spend a good deal of our lives at the mercy of our thoughts so the realisation that this isn’t necessary can be a very welcome part of regular practice.
How does that help with self-love?
Well, if our thoughts are centred around how much of a failure we are, how we should have done this and shouldn’t have done that or we’re constantly worried about our performance, appearance or capabilities, we’re likely to feel pretty low.
With meditation we can see that these thoughts don’t have to be true; they’re simply thoughts and we are free to let them go. Practising this process of seeing thoughts for what they are and then letting them go during meditation develops the ability to deal with negative emotions throughout the rest of the day.
So, when negative thoughts and emotions such as guilt or anxiety bubble up, we simply observe the thought without getting drawn into it; we witness it without being overwhelmed by it. Letting the thought go becomes the next logical step – why would you hold a thought which doesn’t serve you? – and is made easier by the fact that you haven’t let it consume you.
Over time, applying this process of observing and letting go can have a very profound impact on our life. We still experience all types of stressful and potentially hurtful situations, thoughts and emotions, but we realise that we no longer need to be controlled by them. Instead, we are free from the pain of negative thinking and can choose healthier thoughts and feelings instead.
So, along with letting go of all the thoughts and feelings which don’t serve us, we can start to allow more positive, enjoyable emotions into our awareness. We have the freedom to choose kindness toward ourselves. We can choose to forgive ourselves. We can choose to accept ourselves exactly as we are. We can choose to love ourselves.
Again, this takes time, it is a new skill we are learning but each moment brings the opportunity to let go of whatever thought isn’t helping us and to practice
tuning into the feeling of love which lies beneath.