How To Love Yourself (But Not Too Much...Because That Would Be Arrogant, You Sinner!)

As always, a conversation between my friend and I lead to some pretty deep stuff last night. It ended up going to the place it usually does...the concept of self-love. It seems to be quite the topic lately. We hear it about it everywhere: "Love yourself and then you can truly love others," "I love ME, I don't need anybody else," "Love yourself and stop worrying about what others think about you," and other quotes like, "Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship that you have."

All of this sounds very great if we were born into a world that didn't completely focus on ethics and morals and the judgment surrounding them. Our society is based on the concept (whether we like it or not) of original sin. From the birth of humanity, per the Bible, we were barely even around on Earth as humans, and we just sinned right away! We didn't even have a chance, and the label was slapped onto us from the start.

We are told by most religions that we are born sinners, which leads to the practice of infant baptisms. These poor babies can't feed or clothe themselves, yet we are deeming them sinners and washing their sins away with a ritual of holy water and priests.

What is sin, after all? The first definition is, "An immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law." We even have some pretty intense Bible passages that address sin,
“I was sinful at birth, filled with sin from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5).
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Dummies.com even reminds us that "A common saying that helps reinforce that pride is at the root of all sin is that “I” is at the center of “sin.”"

Well, what are we to do? Where is that grey area between loving ourselves too much and remembering that we, in fact, were born as sinners and "fall short of the glory of God" while loving ourselves so that we can stop caring about what others think? After all, isn't it the judgments that have been established by society that makes us into the sinners that we are when we disobey them? Yes, we have God's law in the 10 Commandments and even the Yamas and Niyamas in Yoga, along with every other religion and tradition's guidelines, but when we think about it, have we ever really felt the vengeful wrath of God or an all-powerful being?

What is sin, after all? What about the perception of right and wrong, good and bad? Who decides? If it is an over-seeing God, and we were created sinners, per our origination story, then what the heck do we do now? How do we fix it? And, the most important question: If we don't know how to love ourselves because we are sinners and are bad, how do we even start to love others, since they are DEFINITELY sinners and are bad? How do we learn to love others if we don't have the example of loving ourselves to use as an example?

OK, let's look at the concept of the Golden Rule: Love others as you would love yourself. As we have already asked, what if you don't know how to love yourself in the first place? And, what if your 'other' loves differently than you do and has a different perception of what love is? What if your actions hurt others and it wasn't your intention? What if you misunderstood their actions or what they said as something other than loving? These are the questions that spin around in our heads over and over that we consciously ask ourselves. Furthermore, the answers to these questions that we eventually rest with get stuffed into our subconscious, which gradually leads to self hatred and unworthiness--and, even worse, resent toward others.

I do not have all of the answers to these questions, and contemplate this concept quite often, but here is the simplest method that I use when I work on loving myself in a non-arrogant way. It, hopefully, will help you and give you a good starting foundation with developing a healthy relationship with yourself: I think about how much I love my children. You can do the same for anyone in your life--your own children, your mother, your father, your spouse or significant other, your siblings, a grandparent, whomever. When you consider your love for them, sit with the feeling for a moment. Don't just think about the feeling as a thought--actually feel it in your heart center and your physical body. It is a sensation. If it is anything like the feeling I get, it is expansive, warm, and a lightness seems to fill my whole center.

Now, in this same way, think of yourself. Are you able to incorporate this same feeling of love as you think of yourself? If so, can you feel the same expansive, warm, and light feeling that you do for your loved one?

How about the concept of unconditional love? When you think of your special loved one, do you love them despite any mistake they've made or despite the fact that they are deemed a sinner? Even if they hurt you through words or actions, would you still love them? My guess is that the answers to these questions are, "YES!" So...here is the ultimate question: "Why is it so difficult for us feel the same for ourselves?"

From this question, without over-thinking, listen to the first answer the pops into your head. Identify the answer, do not attach it or label yourself with it, and then observe your physical feeling in response to it. Sit with it and physically feel it. Normally, the answer will hear will be a label you've given yourself that stems from guilt, remorse, apathy, grief, fear, anger, desire, or shame. And here we are back to our original discussion. What was the foundation for this label you've given yourself? A feeling derived from the concept of sin as defined by...whom? Do you feel this way about your loved one that you thought about earlier? Would you ever dream of thinking of them in that way? Then why, my friend, would you ever do that to your closest best friend, advocate, and supporter: Yourself?

In the end, when we sit and feel in response to a label we have created about ourselves (which can be rooted from years of negative self-hatred), we can identify it's cause and realize it no longer needs to hold power over us. Only then, can we start to love ourselves as we would love our children, our family, or our closest friends.

 

A Guide for Truly Living Life--You May Be A Yogi Without Realizing It!

According to the foundations of yoga introduced by Pantanjali's The Yoga Sutras, Yoga Asanas (poses) are one of eight limbs or branches of our practice. To be quite up front, the yoga asanas were not even part of yoga until Pantanjali introduced the concept, and he did not even describe the postures in his guidelines. Yoga asanas are simply a tool for us to use to find an opening within ourselves, mentally and physically, to tap into the space beyond our five senses--to find our blissful subconscious, our Spirit, our Source. The other limbs that are just as valuable and necessary to living and creating a meaningful and purposeful life, and to reduce suffering, but are so often ignored or forgotten. So why has yoga REALLY been around for thousands of years? Let's review!

  1. Moral codes (sigh...). Yes these do show up in our yoga practice, as well, and include non-harm, truthfulness, non-stealing, sexual responsibility, and non-possessiveness.
  2. Guidelines for personal behavior. These include cleanliness internally and externally, contentment, discipline, spiritual studies and growth, and devotion to love/Spirit.
  3. Postures and the mastery of the body in order to find stillness in mind and body! Ironic!
  4. Breathing techniques such as Ujjayi (Darth Vader) Breathing, Alternate Nostrile Breathing, Breath of Fire, etc)
  5. Withdrawal of senses.
  6. Concentration and focus.
  7. Meditation (there are over 25 styles!)
  8. Merging with Spirit/Divine/Source of Life

Remember, these are guidelines to help reduce the suffering in your life. It is not as Pantanjali shared them with the world so that we would be damned to some sort of hell in the after-life if we do not follow them. Furthermore, know that you are human. You will find it challenging to stay disciplined with these guidelines, and this is normal! However, I am willing to bet that you, at some point, have already integrated one or more of these methods or concepts into your life. Whether you realized it at the time or not, you were "doing" yoga! Wow, doesn't that make yoga less intimidating and more accessible? Yoga is not some activity that is unobtainable because in order to be a yogi you do not have to be an acrobat, gymnast, or even touch your toes! A good teacher, mentor, friend, or studio will help you find the right limb to start your yogic practice with and then the sky is the limit with your journey and expansion from there!

Last, but not least, enjoy the journey, the transitions, and the challenges along the way! After all, what value and reward would there be if it was a completely easy path?

I hope this message finds you in peace.

Sincerely and with Love,
Sharli

A message regarding Yoga and Limber Tree to you REAL people out there (with love, from Sharli):

 

"There is no mainstream demand [for yoga]. It is way too misunderstood. The closest thing to a mainstream demand for yoga is actually a mainstream demand for a misconception of yoga: that it's a bliss-out for young, skinny, flexy, women."

Mary McInnis Meyer

 

This misconception leaves out about 99% of the population. My goal is and always has been to share the true essence of what yoga is--and to let you REAL PEOPLE know that it can be life changing. It can change the way you view the world and your perception of the world's response to you. It is not just about the poses or being flexible. It is not fitness.

 

The misconception tends to cause individuals to undervalue the service being offered. No one bats an eye at $100 per month for their cell phone bill, but with yoga, that's unheard of! "How can I pay $100 per month for YOGA, when I can go to the gym for $40?!"

 

I have worked so hard to offer a peaceful and safe place for people to discover their practice every time they come to their mats. I have strived daily to create and maintain a consistent schedule with a large variety of (amazing) teachers that is workable for everyone--with at least 4 classes per day, 7 days a week. And then, there is the expectation of making the class styles work for everyone's needs--gentle, yet challenging; physical, yet spiritual, peaceful, yet interesting.  Sometimes--actually almost always--this seems impossible. 

 

SO often I want to give up and move on to an easier job. One that easily pays the bills...but my passion keeps me moving forward with the yoga studio--because I do see it making differences in people's lives--and I made commitments to this place, the people that are a part of it, and the new REAL people that have yet to discover what yoga truly will bring to them.

 

So, how do I get this message out to you REAL people more effectively, so you can discover the complete amazing experience of what yoga (and mindfulness, and meditation, and breathing practices, etc) brings into your life? How do I get to more of you REAL people, who just want to learn how you can live based on what's important and with more joy?

 

I believe this is accomplished by continuing to spread the authenticity of yoga gracefully and patiently through the medium of Limber Tree. How much are you willing to pay to have a cell phone or a car every month? How much are you willing to pay to obtain an education about a lifelong practice that will facilitate peace and well-being into your life? Meditate on THAT for awhile. :)

 

So HERE is Limber Tree's paradigm that makes us different than the gyms and many other studios out there:

1. Our mission is to teach you the entire full-faceted system of yoga that can serve every kind of individual.

2. We will strive to include as many resources as we can that will teach you the value of this yoga system, and make it clear.

 

Above all else, LOVE resonates throughout Limber Tree. That is at its very foundation and it permeates all other elements of the space and the practices held within the space.

 

Thank you for reading this! I will see you REAL people at the studio~

 

Namaste'

 

Sharli