We have been talking about how to love ourselves. Most of us didn’t really learn as we were growing up. We learned how to judge and criticize ourselves and others, but we may be a bit fuzzy about how to love ourselves.
I think we spend so much time judging and criticizing in an attempt to make ourselves “good enough” to be loved. If we can fix all our problems, we can then afford to love ourselves because we will be “lovable”. But that’s now how it works. We are all so very imperfect. Even the people who seem so “together” are imperfect.
[Tweet “We must decide to love ourselves, even and especially when we “don’t deserve it”.”]
The practice of mindfulness is a very good way of loving yourself. Mindfulness can actually change your brain! The grey matter in your brain will actually increase in certain parts of the brain – having to do with memory, compassion, learning, self-awareness, and introspection, and it will decrease grey matter in the amygdala, which has to do with anxiety and stress. You can start to see changes in your body and brain with as little as five minutes a day! Mindfulness will help lower your blood pressure, improve sleep, strengthen your immune system, relieve stress and depression, and improve your connections with others.
Here’s how you practice mindfulness:
- Sit in a comfortable spot, but not so comfortable that you will fall asleep. A supportive chair with your feet touching the floor is a good idea. This is not written in stone, though. Everyone is different.
- Close your eyes, and focus on your breath.
- Notice your thoughts. Observe your feelings, but do so without judging, or analyzing them. Simply notice and then bring your concentration back to your breathing. Anything your mind does is fine. It is “unwinding”, so lots of stuff will probably get stirred up and come out.
That’s it! Something that helps me personally is keeping pen and paper close by so if my mind is very insistent about remembering something, I can just jot it down and then go back to my breathing. Also, you will need a timer so you don’t have to keep checking the time.
You can also practice a form of mindfulness while doing an activity. For example, if you are washing the dishes, you can decide to practice mindfulness. Just notice the warm water on your hands, and the way the water sounds, etc. Just be present in that moment. When you notice your mind thinking about everything you have to do, just bring your focus gently back to your present activity.
Practicing mindfulness will help lower your stress and increase your enjoyment of life. Love yourself and start practicing!