Yoga is the practice of learning how to face life. It is said that we think the same thoughts over and over and over again, similar to how a broken record would sound. What if these thought patterns are negative? It is interesting, in life, how we often treat ourselves worse then anyone else. At times, the self talk that runs in our heads would be considered verbal abuse...if it were directed to anyone else. We would never permit a friend or co-worker to say, to us, some of the things we say to ourselves. Luckily no one else can hear the things we tell ourselves.
A practice that I have challenged my yoga students with is to find self love. During their asanas I have asked them to stop each time they get into Mountain or Child's Pose and to think of a new thing that they LOVE about themselves. I ask them to place it in their heart and hold it there. By the end of the practice they begin to realize that they have been their worst critic and they also start to have to work hard to find those things that they love about themselves. Those things that give them pride and worth.
Self love is one of the most important parts of life. With it, we can finally let go of a lot of past hurts that were based on this fundamental need for love. This about your relationship with your parents, friends or spouses. What hurt feelings do you harbor that if you really drilled down to the really issue, it was simply about you not feeling loved? If we are able to love ourselves, we can let go of the need for others to love and approve of us. By filling ourselves up with love first, we can go out into the world and truly give love to others, without the need to be loved by anyone else. This is unconditional love. Loving yourself and then giving love is saying that you love someone just because you do... and not because they must love you in return.
The ramblings of the mind are no different then a 3 year old with their antics. How would your life change if you could laugh at these thoughts? Are you these thoughts? Are you your mind? No, not anymore then you are your stomach or your foot. With that understanding, it is easier to see the ramblings of the mind and just laugh at it's antics. The mind is no different then the lungs. It is simply doing it's intended function...to think. It is important to keep an eye on the mind though and make sure that it is used as a tool to help you figure out solutions, but not to determine your path.
So, I challenge you. We go through Mountain & Child's Pose many times in our yoga practices. Each time you do, find something you love about yourself and hold it in your heart. Hopefully by the end of your practice, your heart will swell and the love will fill your whole body.