Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Love Yourself


Do you love yourself?  If not, why not?  If yes, how do you express that love?

You have probably heard the expression "charity begins at home".  Unfortunately it is frequently used just as an excuse to ignore help that people further from home really need.  But in essence it is true.  In the King James Bible, the word "charity" is an interpretation of the Greek word "agape", and it really means unselfish love.  A love that just keeps giving without needing anything in return.  Compassion.  It certainly does not mean paying some money to a worthy concern and then considering you have done your duty and do not need to be compassionate.

So let's rephrase.  "Love begins at home".  In fact, love begins with loving yourself.  If you do not love yourself you will find it very difficult to love others.  Conversely, if you truly love yourself you will find you begin to create room to love others, beginning with those around you and expanding to the point where you love the entire universe.

I am not talking here about narcissism.  I am talking about true love as contained in the word "agape".  A love that is committed to the well-being of its object.  If you are interested at all in personal development, this is the starting point.  You have to be committed to your own true well-being.  This really encompasses everything.  You will not abuse your body or your mind or your spirit, because you love them and wish them to be developed in the best possible way.  The mormons in particular talk about recognizing your body as a temple, as do most other Christians.  Treat it with respect.  Look after it.  Love it.  Do this and it will serve you well.  The same goes for your mind and your spirit.  Develop it.  Cherish it.

When you love someone you probably give them treats.  If you are married, can you remember what you did when you first went out with your spouse?  Did you give unexpected gifts?  Not just on birthdays and anniversaries and at Christmas, but at unexpected times?  Remember the pleasure that gave you as well as the pleasure it gave your spouse?  Do the same to yourself.  Give yourself treats.  Not all the time of course.  I am not encouraging you to be self-indulgent.  But get into the habit of treating yourself every so often.

You also need to spend time alone with the one you love rather than only ever being with them in a crowd.  Do the same for yourself.  Have "me" time.  I suggest you do this every day for at least a few minutes, and for much longer at least once a week.  Even an occasional full day of "me" time.  What do I mean by "me" time?  I cannot really answer that, as it will depend entirely on you.  It means different things to different people.  If you don't know the answer then that means you are certainly not spending enough time on yourself and must learn to love yourself more.

As you learn to love yourself more, and practise doing what you have learned, you will begin to see how you should love others more.  And so your self love will begin to blossom as love for others.

I suggest you incorporate both self love and love for others in a daily meditation practice.  Begin by feeling every bit of your body and start to feel love for it.  Feel a sphere extending from your centre and encompassing your whole body.  Then, as you become comfortable with this, expand this sphere so it includes your whole house and everything and everyone within it.  Keep centred and expand that sphere again.  Now it includes all your friends and relatives.  Expand it again to include all those you work with and those you have fleeting contact with.  Keep expanding, so it now includes people you have never met, people all over the world.  Feel deep compassion for them.  Then expand again so it includes not just all the people in the world but also the world itself and everything within it.  Now recognize that you are star dust (yes, you really are!) - so expand your love to include the whole universe of stars and of everything that has come from those stars.

Love is a two way street, even if sometimes it does not seem to be.  Yes, there will be times when your unconditional love is not returned to you by the object of your love, but it will still be returned to you from somewhere.  As you start loving yourself and then expanding outwards until that love encompasses the entire universe, so the universe will return that love to you.  This will happen gradually and not necessarily in very obvious ways, but happen it will.

So, beginning today, practice self love, expand it, and love the entire universe.  I think you will be surprised by what will start to happen in your life when you do this!


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