With Valentine’s Day fast approaching, the big “L” has been top of mind. It’s not that I’m one of those mush-gushy people who wholeheartedly buys in to the commercialism of the made-up-holiday, but I definitely have been focused on cultivating more of the ultimate feel-good feeling in my own life. However, I suspect that I may have a slightly different perspective than most of the other passengers on the V-day train. I’m seeking that precarious tipping point, looking to counteract the darkness and heaviness of fear with the light and airy, easy breezy, beautiful fullness of love.
As Marianne Williamson said, “a miracle is a shift in perception from fear to love.” When I first came upon these words, they hit me like a lightning bolt, sending a powerful electrical current through my then mundane existence. Quite simply, the profound simplicity and blatant truth of these words rocked my world. This is because they helped me to realize I was living from a place of fear.
John Lennon had more to say on the subject:
“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfection. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.” Just as John Lennon so aptly stated, I recognize that fear is the underlying current that caused me to pull back from life. In a constant state of contraction, I tiptoed around my fears and insecurities to merely “get through” my days. The problem, as I now understand it, is that living from fear amounts to not really living at all.
I’ve definitely been more focused on living from love since gaining this awareness, but I’d be lying if I said it has been easy. I still struggle to release the stranglehold fear has on me, and some of my limiting beliefs sometimes feel so deeply engrained they continue to rear their ugly heads far more often than I’d like. They pop up out of nowhere, sneering and snickering at me as if to say, “No matter how hard you try, you’re never going to catch us. Na-na-na boo-boo!” The most challenging thing for me is allowing the painful fear-based stuff to come up to the surface. With nowhere else to escape, I’ve had to face and feel, sometimes with crushing physical pain, as my heart bursts open to release the stories that have been buried deep inside.
And yet I know it all comes back to me. If I want love to be the dominant energy or force in my life, I need to be honest, aware, and present. I need to keep reminding myself that fear is a liar and it’s essential to love myself first. As Swami Sai Premananda once said: “Practice love until you remember that you are love.” No one else can do this for me—or you, for that matter. Practicing self-love, quite simply, is the most important thing we can, and must, do for ourselves.
My self-love practice has grown to include daily meditation, regular exercise, nutritious food, lots of sleep, writing, reading, being gentle with myself, relaxing my insanely high expectations of myself and others, and daily double doses of positive self-talk. It’s hard work and it takes practice, every day, but I believe I’m worth the effort. I am a work in progress.
Other ideas for attracting more love into your life and cultivating a life you love include:
• Practicing gratitude
• Making peace with the past
• Living with intention
• Spending time in nature
• Embracing fear
• Taking ownership of your own life
• Helping others
In closing, I’d like to share one last quote from Marianne Williamson:
“Love is the essential reality and our purpose on earth. To be consciously aware of it, to experience love in ourselves and others, is the meaning of life.”
Thanks for reading, and until next time I extend to you all the love and gratitude in my sparkly heart.
P.S. If your heart is so inclined, please join @SoulChatYeg on Twitter for a discussion about love this Wednesday, February 11 at 8:00 p.m. MST. You can follow along with the questions and answers using #soulchatyeg
Feel free to drop me a line about your experience with fear and love, or let me know what your favorite self-love practices are.