We grow. We build relationships. People come into our lives, and people leave. We make friends, find lovers, feel love, and find romance. We lose it. We lose ones we love, either to circumstance or death, and we mourn. The cycle of life can be beautiful and cruel at the same time. But what seems to be at the very source of that cycle of suffering to me is our own humanity, and human tendency to want love. We want to be loved and cared for. We want to know that we are worthy of love and its joy. I know I want and think about all of those things. I think on some fundamental level that this is what connects us all at the level of the soul. Somewhere, deep down, we all want to connect. It’s part of being embodied.
The irony is that while all of these external relationships come and go, there’s only one that always remains constant, and it happens to be the one that we need the most, yet is the hardest to build. That would be the relationship with oneself. Building my relationship with myself has never come easy, and often, I’ve actually been resistant to it. I’d imagine we all are, or else we’d all be enlightened. But it is interesting when you think about it, no? I’ve had to put in years of time and effort, exploring the depths of my own emotional holding, and sometimes it can really be excruciating to look at. In my exploration of my relationship with me, I’ve found it so perplexing to think that someone capable of so much compassion towards others can have so little for oneself. Ever heard that phrase, “I’m my own worst critic,” ?
I feel that we as humans seem to look outside of ourselves for satisfaction and acceptance, and consequently spend much less time asking ourselves if we love and accept ourselves. The mind can be cruel and tyrannical, and the more we reign it in, whether by building internal awareness, practicing yoga, or doing something that nourishes us, we can learn that we don’t have to listen to this voice in our heads that tells us “you’re not good enough,” or “you’re not worthy of love,” or even “you’re not worthy of a beautiful life.” We are all worthy of love, beauty, and grace. But unless we truly believe that, none of those will come. We set our own destiny by what we believe to be the truth. I remember reading a quote from a classical yogic text which roughly translated: “if you whole-heartedly believe it to be true, then all of the medical and spiritual texts, words of wisdom, and the flow of karma are in vain.”
This to me is why nurturing the relationship with ourselves is so important. Yes, on some level, it’s possible to be deeply compassionate towards others without being completely compassionate with oneself (otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing now! J). But I think that ability grows exponentially as we build self-acceptance.
I’m attaching the video that I found of Sai Maa on YouTube, and one thing that really sticks out to me is her assessment of the human need for external gratification. And really, I see myself do it all the time. We go from one relationship to the next, whether friendship or lover, searching for something to fill the gaps. But that leaves us entirely in the control of the external world. And when we get hurt or experience loss, we search to fill the new void with something to ease the suffering. And then like Sai Maa says, before we’ve even removed the burdensome backpack we’ve been carrying, we fill it again to the brim and say, “oh, I can just empty this later.” But that backpack gets heavier and heavier, and one day it won’t be able to sustain the weight. So when I talk about being with oneself, I feel that it means taking time to assess what we’ve put in our backpacks, and see what we can take out. Nobody should have to carry that extra weight. How can we fully love and appreciate others when we’re practically collapsing under the weight of our own burdens?
So all that aside, if you still wonder what it means to be with yourself after watching the video, then I’ll tell you how I do it. Take at least a little time every day to stop and ask yourself, “How are you feeling today?” And don’t just do it in passing. I sit for a few minutes and try to be as present as possible. Whether I feel anger, sadness, fear, or joy, I try to sit with it and let myself feel it. This doesn’t mean catharsis necessarily because it’s not necessary to react to those feelings. I just try to let them cycle through as I observe. Sometimes I cry, and sometimes I laugh. I hope that this exercise helps you as it has helped me. In a time when the world is in a place of such change and uncertainty, building this relationship with ourselves is of the utmost importance, and the more true we are to that goal, the deeper our ability will be to create harmony within our relationships and our environment.
Love and light,