“To love a person is to learn the song that is in their heart and to sing it to them when they have forgotten.”
I came across this quote yesterday and found it to be quite beautiful. I am a true lover of love and these kinds of words just speak to me. But as I spent time in front of my meditation altar this morning and reflected on what I like to call “my heart space situations,” I reflected on this quote and had a simple but seemingly profound realization. While it’s important to know the songs of those you love, it’s more important to know the song that lives in your own heart. What is it that makes you sing? In other words, before you can fully love another, it’s important to love yourself first and foremost.
The road to self-love is not an easy one. In my 20s, I always thought as soon as I’d hit my 30s, this feeling would take over and I would simply fall in love with me. I will be turning 37 in just a few days, and I can firmly say that has not happened. Instead, it’s been about experiencing the highs and lows of life and learning from how it has all shaped me.
I have always been a seeker. I’ve explored different religions and I’ve always wanted to find a place of peace within myself and know what my life’s higher purpose is. In that way, I have always been on the journey of self-love. But it’s the work I have been doing over this past year that has really put me on the path. One of the most significant lessons I have learned during this course of time is summed up in one word: Non-attachment. I have often heard of why we shouldn’t be attached, but it took me a long while to finally and fully grasp this concept. When it comes to me, I have learned that I attached my happiness to people, things and circumstances I have no control over. By doing so, I put myself in the front seat of an emotional roller coaster. When the things I was attached to were going well, I was happy. When they were not so great, I was down. And when things are down, you feel like you are suffering. Attachment is the foundation of suffering. But as my Yoga teacher always told us during my Yoga teacher training program, “If suffering can be avoided, it should be avoided.” Over the course of this past year, I have learned not to get too caught up in the high moments of life, and not to get too down during the low points. It’s about trying to find and maintain the balance between it all.
Life situations happen that can make it easier said than done to simply detach yourself. I know this firsthand and often find there are days when I’ve made great strides, and days where I feel like I’ve taken ten steps back. On the good days, I allow myself to celebrate the small victories but I also remind myself that a more challenging day can be just around the corner. And when the challenging days happen, I remind myself that I am still a good person and I am still on the course. It can be a hop, skip and a jump into absolute despair if we are too hard on ourselves during moments that seem like personal setbacks. We fall in love with people who don’t have the capacity to receive love and/or love us in return, or who simply are not in a space to act on that love. We are in jobs where we feel that if the people we work with or the job itself would change, we would be happier. We often feel like we are stuck in life, with no options for things to get better. We feel like that one thing that will make us truly happy is an arm’s length away; something you can see, but just can’t touch. I believe – or at least, I have learned – that loving yourself is knowing life will go on if that person you love doesn’t love you back, or you can find a new job or take the time to finally explore something you’ve always been interested in and seeing how it opens up new doors for you. It’s about knowing the song that lives in your heart and singing it to yourself when you have forgotten.
Before we can ask anyone else to love us and meet whatever our personal needs are, we have to know within ourselves what it is that makes us happy. What makes us sad? What can you learn to live with? What is it that you can’t seem to live without? Looking back on my life’s journey so far, I realize I placed expectations on other people by making them answer those questions that I ultimately had to learn to answer for myself. It’s taken me this past year of choosing not to date, of choosing to spend quality time with myself, of choosing to do the work of looking within. At almost 37 years-old and wanting companionship and more children, it admittedly is a little scary (to me) to make a conscious choice not to be in a relationship with anyone. But through meditation, Yoga and seeking counsel from my spiritual circle of trust, I have learned to be at peace with what is not and better accept what is. There is a future I want for myself, but I have had to learn not to attach myself to that specified future being the outcome. Instead, I have made a conscious effort to focus on continually refining what my life’s purpose is and the work I need to do in this world. I have often heard that when you learn to fall in love with yourself, everything you desire in your heart will begin to attract itself to you. I am learning my song. More importantly, I am learning to sing it to myself.
I wish you peace, love and light on your journey towards self-love.
“Sometimes, the greatest battle to win is the battle over ourselves.”
In my last post, I shared a poem that was written by one of my beloved Godmother’s former students. The line quoted above is from that poem and it resonated so strongly with me when I first read it. I ended up quoting it on my social media pages and even use it in the biography section of my Instagram page. Since the beginning of my process of awakening, which I say began in the summer of 2012 after a bad car accident I was in, I have continuously learned and developed a better understanding of the notion that is so simply stated in this one line. Life in and of itself can be challenging, but it is true…the greatest battle we will experience in life is the battle over ourselves.
We are the masters of our thoughts, the captains of our emotions and the vehicles through which our individual “stuff” that we carry around interacts with others. I had often heard similar musings before that 2012 summer, but it finally began to sink in afterwards. Just before the car accident, I was on an emotional brink. I was very stressed out with work, reeling from a painful breakup and was generally not happy overall. I had heavily contemplated quitting my job, although I had nothing else lined up and a 5 year-old son to take care of. I firmly believe the accident was the Creator’s way of slowing me down to a literal halt. Instead of quitting my job and jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire, I was given a 6-week reprieve from my job. To this day, I am still so thankful to the doctor who took one look at me sitting in his office, banged up emotionally and physically, and said, “I am taking you out of work until mid-August” and scribbled those same words on his notepad. It was early June when this occurred and I wanted to drop to my knees right there in his office in gratitude.
For a few days after I was written out of work, I sat in total silence in my house and allowed myself to feel EVERYTHING that was running through my veins at the time. Hurt. Anger. Fear. Sadness. Mortality. Once I had gotten to a place where I felt it all, I started to do the work of putting myself back together again. I remained committed to my work in therapy. I threw myself more deeply into my Yoga practice. I bought and avidly read on a daily basis Mark Nepo’s “The Book of Awakening.” I started having conversations with other people on the path. Most of my growth is detailed in blogs I posted during that time in my life. And while my life has been far from perfect since that summer, I have definitely gained a better understanding of my greatest battle in life (besides being a parent) being the battle over self.
On this very morning, I have been dealing with a gamut of feelings and emotions. Rushing my son and myself as we get ready for school and work. Beating myself up for not getting up earlier, so I wouldn’t have to rush and more so, snap at my son. Seeing things on social media that I want to react to, but am trying hard to not let get to me. As these things began to swirl around in my head, somewhere deep down, I heard the line from the poem and I knew I had to blog. Sometimes when I post my writings, it’s the title that comes to me first and then I build the content. Sometimes it’s the content from which I build a title. Today, I couldn’t think of a title that would match the quote and so, I thought to myself, “let’s just leave it untitled”…and that’s what I decided to name this particular blog.
In the song, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” it is said that life is but a dream. And this can be true. But I like to think of it more along the lines of life is but a journey. A confluence of experiences, emotions, thoughts, choices and fate. I used to think it was about attaining those things – a good job, a nice home, stellar wardrobe, etc. – that would make me happy. But I realize now that true happiness comes from deep within and our very thoughts – those things we only tell ourselves – are the foundation upon which to build that happiness. And you are blessed if you have had an awakening. I now better understand that it’s our desires and our attachment to those desires that can cause a feeling of suffering. I am knee-deep in my own awakening experience and my goal…my hope…is to emerge more detached, truly enlightened and most importantly, as the victor in the battle over my self.
When life proves to be a bit more challenging than you feel you can handle, remember the words of the Serenity Prayer:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Here’s to wisdom and all things good. Love and Light, dear readers. Namaste.