It also helps if you wake up getting into the mindset of thanksgiving, or reserve some part of the day to do so. Eventually, with regular practice, it will just be playing in the back ground of your mind. You might raise your arms up in joy, smile wide, and say, “Thank You, God, for this wonderful life that You have given me, and this brand new chance to learn the ways of Love. I know that I am drawing near You with every Loving thought, word, and action I take. My life becomes more joyous and secure every time I decide to choose Love over fear.” You might start out with these words, but making up a prayer in your own words that follows the Spirit of thanksgiving would be even better for connecting to yourself.
Both these affirmation can be really tough to do depending on how we feel on any given day, but I have never regretted starting these practices. I am always able to see myself, my life, the events of my life, and the interactions I have with others in a more positive and productive light as a result. “Smile give, smile receive, Thankful, Love takes the lead!” I can never know what my giving in Love might receive, but if I am Thankful, Love will take the lead. With Love in the lead I am never disappointed because whatever I receive is viewed through the abundant understanding of Love. Through this understanding I know just how wonderful a gift I have received. I know exactly how to use it to its best purpose in the wisdom of Love. Even if my wisdom is just to a small degree, it can make the difference between a argument and a conversation where I get offered a few more hours at work or a broken leg because I stubbornly moved forward and not having to wear a cast, miss work, and pay doctor's bills. So lets all find a little relief with a “Smile give, smile receive, Thankful, Love takes the lead!” :-)
Why Do We Want to Love Others to Love Ourselves?
My ego snapped in grad school, and, in the midst of that emotional breakdown, I had some clarity. I was simply running away from reality, and what could bring me true happiness. I tried taking another turn into unknown waters. I thought that I had the answer, but after a year of exploration, I had reverted to the same unhealthy behavior. It took meeting someone who intentionally spent her time learning what it meant to live in Love, before I remembered that statement consciously, and started living an intentional life myself. “I needed to Love myself in order to Love another.”
My hunger for this knowledge has been insatiable, and still is. How does one truly Love. Jesus gave us the second great commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself (Mathew 22:39).” And then I came across Louise Hay, who emphasis the importance of Loving ourselves in order to truly know how to Love our neighbor. There is a great debate that surrounds this matter of Loving ourselves to Love others, but it is a matter of semantics from what I have found. The difference is narcissistic Love of the ego and the unconditional Love of God. I am, and all the sources that I am referring to advocates the unconditional Love of God.
Caroline Van Kimmenade gives a very detailed explanation on what narcissistic love and unconditional Love is, their differences, and what is likely to happen if they interact in a relationship. Do you treat others or are you being treated like an appliance? Find out by reading her article, “Nacissistic love versus Unconditional Love.”
Susanna M. Halonen MAPP talks about learning to love yourself the way Louise Hay teaches, unconditionally faults and all, in order to truly learn how to love your neighbor in her article, “Love Yourself Before You Love Others.”
Deepak Chopra explains that separation between others is an illusion since we are always viewing others as different versions of ourselves further evidence that the Love we need in cases of Loving ourselves and others is flowing though the Source beyond our ego selves. This made perfect sense to my intellectual mind, my ego could not argue (though it wants to), and it connected to my deeper Self. We always see others from a reference point of ourselves. Dr. Wayne Dyer has a statement of thanksgiving that concerns being thankful when we blame others because we are actually feeling that emotion about ourselves. If we are seeing someone that we think is physically unattractive, it is because we are very critical of ourselves meeting some standard. Until we are able to accept and Love ourselves exactly for who we are, we will never be able to do the same for anyone else. I needed to learn how to form a bridge that would connect me to true Self. This could be observed through how I interact with others. “Smile give, smile receive, Thankful, Love takes the lead!” Is the prayer poem for this week because it shares the way we might bridge the gap between ourselves and others, how we can learn to Love ourselves through connecting in Love to others.
How to Create the Bridge that Connects Us in Love?
A debate that might arise is “What about criminals, murders, rapists?” How do we treat them? I can not think of a better example than Jesus on the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do (Luke 23:34).” He died because He followed the path of God's unconditional Love despite what would cause most of us to choose self preservation. This is way truly Loving ourselves and others is so difficult, it goes against the lizard brain's “fight or flight” instinct of survival, and knows that there is something more than the world of the flesh which fades away despite all our selfish efforts of preservation. Through my thoughts and interactions with others I can always tell how much I love myself, including criminals. “Judge not, that ye be not judged (Mathew 7:1).” If I am looking for justice and not mercy, It is justice, not mercy that I will receive because my own desires for myself are mirrored in my desires for others. Louise Hay and Dr Wayne Dyer, speak a lot on the law of attraction. Our secret hearts, the wish beneath the perfect image that we might show on the surface, is what we truly are attracted to and attracting in our lives, regardless of hurtful or helpful quality. By giving, receiving, and being thankful for the outcome no matter what it is creates a bridge formed between myself and the Eternal, that I my be an instrument of Love, which attracts good into everyone's life.
The prayer poem for this week demonstrates this. “Smile give, smile receive, Thankful, Love takes the lead!” As Love takes the lead from my trusting actions, Love leads to all knowledge and understanding of life's unfolding. This is why Thomas Merton, Dr. Wayne Dyer, and others have expressed in one way or another that we are all the unfolding of God. When we realize the true beauty in each of those around us, we realize it in ourselves, and have truly bridged the gap between ourselves and everyone else, and are united with all creation in Love.
We might all think about this the next opportunity we have to greet another person passing by, to choose a reply after an insensitive comment, or to drop something carelessly to the ground because we are in a rush. We can choose a Loving decision that will help us make progress toward Loving others and ourselves in a unconditional way, or we can keep relearning the same lessons over and over again. These lessons are different for each of us, of course, God knows how best to teach each of us, but what is certain is that we all seek happiness in Love, in the great exchange of life. “Smile give, smile receive, Thankful, Love takes the lead!” Now let's deepen our understanding of creating a bridge to Love by practicing care for our bodies and minds with Setu Bandha Sarvangasana or bridge pose! :-)
How Setu Bandha Sarvangasana can Bridge us to Love!
Two of the mental health benefits include opening up to the possibilities of Love (opening the heart chakra) and to feel more comfortable expressing ourselves in an honest way (opening the throat chakra). One way we can tell that these chakras are being activated because of the physical care that is concentrated around the areas of the heart and throat, such as the improved circulation to help prevent cardiac arrest and the stimulation of the thyroid gland, which is near the throat. The third mental health benefit is reduced anxiety and helps alleviate mild depression and stress, which can in large be accounted for by the calming of the brain and nervous system, leading to a reduction in stress and mild depression.
Feeling better in these ways, we reflect this confident and compassionate inner world in the ways we show up in life. “Smile give (kind honest expression of Love), smile receive (something always reacts either without or within or both in turn), Thankful, Love takes the lead! (appreciating whatever we receive because we know it is a gift to teach us in the ways of Love, whether it is celebration and enjoyment or patience and perseverance)! :-) Let's practice being a bridge to Loving ourselves by Loving others.
Here are two great articles by Michelle Fondin, Ayurvedic Lifestyle Counselor, yoga and meditation teacher, “Opening Yourself to Love With the Fourth Chakra (http://www.chopra.com/ccl/open-yourself-to-love-with-the-fourth-chakra)” and “Speak Your Inner Truth with the Fifth Chakra (http://www.chopra.com/ccl/speak-your-inner-truth-with-the-fifth-chakra).” She explains the heart and throat chakras, why opening them is beneficial, and how to open them in greater depth.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana Benefits to Health and Happiness
Strengthening and toning benefits
- stretches (chest, hips, spine, and hips),
- strengthens (back, buttocks, and hamstrings),
- rejuvenates (legs)
- improves circulation (helps prevent arterial blockage that leads to heart attacks),
- calms (brain and nervous system),
- stimulates (lungs, thyroid glands, and abdominal organs),
- improves (digestion),
- helps relieve symptoms (menopause, asthma, and high blood pressure),
- therapeutic (hypertension, osteoporosis, and sinusitis)
- reduces (fatigue, insomnia, backache, and headache)
- opens (heart chakra (Loving feelings and intentions) and throat chakra (expressiveness and honesty))
- reduces (anxiety)
- helps alleviate (stress and mild depression)
- Avoid this pose if you have a neck injury and are not working with an experienced instructor.
- Make sure that you feet, legs, and knees are spaced hips width apart and pointing straight to the wall in front of you to avoid strain to the lower back.
- Using a block: Placing a block on the mat and under the sacrum makes this the supported bridge pose. This takes less physical effort, making it a more therapeutic and relaxing experiences.
Technique for Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
- Start out by lie on the floor with your arms down at your sides, palms face down. Bend your knees, place your feat firmly on the floor, heels as close to your buttock as possible. Inhale.
- Exhale. Press both the souls of your feet and your arms to the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis. Roll your your shoulders down your back, so you are now resting on your shoulders. You should feel your shoulder blades trying to touch. Clasp you hands together, arms still lying on the ground, hands now under your pelvis. Inhale.
- Exhale. Raise your buttock until the thighs are parallel with the floor. CAUTION: Avoid splaying the knees to the sides, keep them straight in line with your ankles and feet. Inhale.
- NOTE: I have never experienced step 5 in a beginners class. You should skip this step if you have a lower back injury or inflexibility.
- Exhale. Move your chin slightly away from the sternum, and press the sternum back to the chin, increasing the arch of the back. Try to bend the arms at the elbows so that the palms are placed on the outsides of the hips, the thumbs on the lower back, and arms acting as a support between the lower back and the floor.
- Hold this pose for a 30 seconds to a minute.
- Recommended feel good practice: As you breath try thinking to yourself the following words with each breath. “Smile give” inhale. “1” exhale. “smile receive” inhale. “2” exhale. “Thankful” inhale. “3” exhale. “Love takes the lead!” inhale. “4” exhale. I usually continue for about 12 breathes or as many as I feel I can do.
- Note: Sometimes I am lucky to focus on the counting alone, and sometime I find the counting alone more fitting. Remember these are only recommendations.
- Smiling will help relax your muscles, making the pose physically easier to perform.
- Remember be thankful to yourself for giving taking such a great opportunity to grow both mentally and physically. Visualize all the Love and happiness that you will experience as a result of this practice to help ease your mind, and relax your body even further.
- Caution: Do not practice this next part if you are particularly stressed out today.
- However, If you are ambitious today, and would like a chance to grow a little more, try reflecting on all those exchanges that you have throughout the day with yourself and others. Sometimes we might call ourselves stupid for not doing what we think we should have done, and unfortunately, we might call others stupid or something similar. Then, what do we receive as a result, is it shame for not performing to our standards, maybe it is an argument, a dirty look, or equally angry remark from the other person. This may not make us feel very good if this is the case, but it can teach us to be more Loving and kind next time we think about judging ourselves or others. In this way, we still have much to be thankful for, a chance to draw closer to Loving ourselves and others, to have that warm inspiring feeling within that will direct us towards a more positive and productive path in Love. These are just a few examples, think about your own experiences, and how they reflect this pattern of giving, receiving, and resulting feelings within. Are we being thankful even when we do not get something we like? How can we learn from it, and be thankful for this new chance to Love better in the future?
- Exhale. Lower body to the floor, and gratefully take a rest lying flat on your back.
If there is a topic you are passionate about or question that you would like answered about how to Love ourselves better, I would love to here it. Please write a comment about it here or on Face Book in the "For the Love of Self" discussion area.
Thank you so much for reading “How to Love Yourselves by Loving Others” today! I truly learned to be much more thoughtful in the ways that I approach exchanges, and how I feel about them afterwards. I hope that you were able to learn something useful as well. Sometimes a smile is all we can think to give, but what a powerful gift it is, not only to others, but to ourselves. “Smile give, smile receive, Thankful, Love takes the lead!” When we choose Love, we might not know the outcome, but we can trust that it will always be much better than anything we could have ever imagined! Have a wonderfully joyous day! Love, Aaron Szczurek :-)