It’s so easy to get lost in negative thoughts and self-doubt. Underneath those feelings of lack and insecurity often lies a deeper truth: We do not feel worthy of love. Societal ideals condition us to believe that we must always strive to be “better.” That means thinner, happier, richer, smarter—you get the picture. Rarely are we ever made to believe that we are enough just as we are.
We may not even feel that we are worthy of our own love, which is tragic.
When my inner critic starts to creep in, telling me that I’ll never be successful or happy, my yogic sensibility reminds me to pause whatever I’m doing, rest, and breathe. There are times when I reach for the ice cream instead and choose to wallow. But then the rabbit hole of negativity remains, and the recovery period is always longer.
Meditating on self-love allows me to reconnect with my heart—to remember that I am worthy of love, especially my own.
Mastering the day-to-day range of human emotion can be so challenging. I have found that moments when I slip into “not-enoughness” are when I need most to focus on loving myself.
There are many ways that we can take care of ourselves and express self-love. We can read uplifting poetry, pamper ourselves with massage, take long walks in nature, or reach out to a friend (or therapist) for support. As yogis, we can also turn to our practice. I’ve personally discovered that meditating on self-love allows me to reconnect with my heart—to remember that I am worthy of love, especially my own.
Meditating on self-love gives me permission to get real and vulnerable with myself. Sitting with my thoughts and feelings, rather than pushing them away, is itself an act of love. When I focus on my heart as I meditate, I am able to create a compassionate space from which I can feel, without judgment, whatever it is I need to feel. During this time I am not beating myself up about whatever I think I did wrong or however I think I can’t “measure up.” I am simply allowing myself to be human.
As soon as I leave the present moment and allow my thoughts (good or bad) to consume my attention, I can feel myself drifting away from the experience of this compassionate space.
Meditation allows me to see that thoughts aren’t permanent; they come and go. When I take a step back from them and let them pass, I see that any unworthiness I feel is only temporary.
So, instead of being hard on yourself and getting caught up in the usual “not enough” storyline when you face self-doubt and lack of self-love, breathe, and use this meditation to remind yourself that you are worthy of your own love and compassion.
Suggested props: a bolster, chair, and blanket (optional)
First, make yourself comfortable. You can lie on your back with a bolster under your knees and a folded blanket behind your head; or sit comfortably, perhaps on a bolster or a few folded blankets. For additional support, feel free to sit against a wall or in a chair.
If you are lying down, feel the connection between the back of your body and the mat. If you are seated, lengthen up through your spine, broaden through your collarbones, and let your hands rest on your thighs (palms facing either up or down).
Once you’re settled, close your eyes or soften your gaze and tune into your breath. Notice your breath, without trying to change it. And notice also if you feel tense or relaxed, without trying to change that either.
Inhale through your nose and then exhale through your mouth. Continue to take deep, full breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you breathe, become aware of the state of your body and the quality of your mind. Where is your body holding tension? Do you feel closed off or shut down emotionally? Where is your mind? Is it wandering or is it at home within the breath? Is your mind at ease or filled with restlessness, negativity, and doubt?
Place both hands over your heart and continue to inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Ask yourself: How does it feel to place my hands over this tender area, this place where I experience love for self and others?
Let your breath become more smooth and effortless and begin to breathe in and out through your nose. Feel the flow of air moving into your lungs and then back out into the world.
With each exhale, imagine you are releasing any negative thoughts that may be lingering in your mind.
Continue to focus on your breath. On each inhale, think “I am worthy,” and on each exhale, “I am enough.” Let each inhale draw in self-love and each exhale release what is no longer serving you. Take a few minutes to breathe and recite this mantra internally. Notice how you feel as you say these words to yourself.
If your mind wanders at any point, know that it’s okay. It’s the nature of the mind to wander. Simply bring your attention back to the breath. Notice how your thoughts come and go, whether positive or negative, and simply allow them to pass on by like clouds floating in the sky.
Now visualize yourself standing in front of a mirror, and look into your own eyes. What do you see? Pain and sadness? Love and joy? Neutrality?
Regardless of what appears in the reflection, tell yourself: “I love you,” “You are beautiful,” and “You are worthy of happiness.” Know that what you see in the mirror in this moment may be different from what you see the next time you look.
Imagine now that you could breathe into your heart and visualize love pouring out of your hands and into your heart.
Let this love warm and permeate you from your heart center, filling the rest of your body.
Feel a sense of comfort and calm traveling up through your chest into your neck and head, out into your shoulders, arms, and hands, and then down into your ribs, belly, pelvis, legs, and feet.
Allow a sensation of warmth to fill you from head to toe. Breathe here and know that love is always available for you when you need it.
When you’re ready, take a few more deep, mindful breaths and then softly open your eyes. Sit for a few moments to acknowledge the unique experience you had during this meditation. Refer back to this practice, or any other resource you may have, whenever you need to create a loving space for yourself.
This is a beautiful opportunity to learn something new about yourself and tune into your physical and emotional needs. Let self-love enable you to build a stronger relationship with yourself and allow you to show up more fully in your life.