The Most Important Relationship You'll Ever Have

Self Love | The center of your heart is where life begins.

Dear Beautiful Human,

💌 We’re writing today from the beautiful mountains of Peru and this letter from Breathe and Flow HQ is being sent with love just for you! Around this time of year, there’s so much pressure to conform to conventional expressions of ‘romantic’ love. Instead, let's celebrate love of a different kind. Let us free ourselves from the weight of expectations and societal pressures and instead revel in the beauty of the most important kind of love: the love for oneself. 🥰

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What is self-love exactly?

We know, ‘self-love’ sometimes gets a bad rep and people equate it to being selfish, booking an expensive massage, indulging in chocolate cake or another beer because ‘you deserve it’ or ‘it’s been a tough day.’ But, there is SO much more involved than a few clichéd notions! Self-love involves focusing on actions that genuinely nourish and balance different aspects of your human experience including your emotional, physical, mental, spiritual, and energetic dimensions.

Self-love is a commitment to embrace what makes you you, flaws and all, and genuinely care about your own happiness. It's like becoming your own best friend, appreciating your quirks and uniqueness. Knowing that you came into this world with an open, loving, and non-judgmental heart means it’s still there; however, it may take some tools to remove the layers of life and come back into that space of pure divine unconditional love. ❤️‍🔥

The center of your heart is where life begins.

Why does self-love matter? 

How you treat yourself teaches others how to treat you also. Your connection with yourself dictates how you navigate through the challenges and appreciate the smoother times. When you're on good terms with yourself, you're better prepared for whatever life has in store for you.  

Aimé, a wise Medicine Man we are lucky enough to work alongside in Ecuador at our recent yoga and plant medicine retreats talks of the ‘diamond’ we have inside each of us. It needs to be looked after and polished in order for it to shine bright enough to light your path as well as the way for others too. This caretaking of oneself is part of the beautiful art of self-love - a tender acknowledgment of your worth, an acceptance of imperfections, and a celebration of the unique masterpiece that is you.  

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Self love has physical impacts too. Daily mindful self-care helps to maintain and promote a state of equilibrium. Research shows that consistent engagement in activities which nourish you encourages the nervous system to operate more frequently in the parasympathetic state, often referred to as "rest and restore." This state facilitates the body's natural self-regulation, promoting functions like digestion, circulation, repair, and respiration therefore improves your overall health! 

One of the best guides to how to be self-loving is to give ourselves the love we are often dreaming about receiving from others.

 The love begins from within by practicing ahimsa

Ahimsa is a Sanskrit term that translates to "non-harming" or "non-violence." It’s a fundamental ethical principle in yogic philosophy as it promotes non-violence to all beings in thought, speech, and action. It extends beyond physical harm to include mental and emotional harm as well. Practicing ahimsa starts with how you talk to yourself. Here’s how it helps cultivate self-love:

Self-Compassion: Instead of engaging in self-criticism or harsh self-judgment, practicing ahimsa means acknowledging and accepting your imperfections and limitations with love and understanding.

Healthy Boundaries: Ahimsa encourages maintaining healthy boundaries in relationships, including the relationship with yourself. Recognize and respect your own needs, and limitations, and honor them without guilt or self-sacrifice.

Mindful Self-Reflection: Engage in mindful self-reflection without judgment nor blame. This involves observing your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors with curiosity and compassion, recognizing that inner growth and transformation require patience, acceptance, and forgiveness.

Nourishing Practices: Engaging in activities that nourish and nurture your body, mind, and soul is an expression of ahimsa to cultivate a deeper sense of self-respect and appreciation.

Positive Self-Talk: Cultivate positive self-talk and inner dialogue that uplifts and empowers you. Instead of engaging in self-criticism or negative self-talk, speak to yourself with kindness and encouragement.

Read on for dozens of tips on how to cultivate ALL of this self-love…❤️

Self-care is not a luxury but a necessity. Daily rituals and practices allow you to replenish and realign with the life you want to lead, be at peace, and feel confident to be yourself. Self-love begins with a gentle understanding that you, dear reader, are deserving of love and compassion, unconditionally. The relationship we have to ourselves is the one relationship on which everything else hinges.

So, how does this look in everyday life? Read on for some super simple self-love ideas to start today as well as some interesting research on how self love can transform your life and all other relationships. 🖤

How to cultivate this relationship with yourself… 

This article by Calm distills self love into seven core elements. We’ve added some questions to get you thinking about how this may relate to your life. 

  • Self-awareness: Understand your feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. What do you do every day which informs the way you feel? How do certain people and activities make you feel?

  • Self-expression: Be true to who you are in all areas of life. Where and when and with whom are you most yourself?

  • Self-care: What do you do to take care of your physical body and your mental health every day? 

  • Self-trust: Believe in your ability to handle life’s ups and downs. What have you already overcome or tackled that you survived?

  • Self-compassion: Be kind to yourself, especially when times are tough. Do you speak to yourself with loving words even when you think you’ve messed up?

  • Self-respect: Honor your worth by setting healthy boundaries. When did you last say no?

  • Self-acceptance: Embrace who you are, including the parts you don’t find perfect. Are you able to let go of comparisons and ideals?

Where to start?

We suggest that you begin with a little check in by doing a little mental recap of the previous day, week, or even month.

Become aware of any difficult feeling. Try looking inward and see whether you can identify a need you have that is not being met which may be causing this.  Now, notice positive feelings or those of accomplishment. Take note of how you can add more of those experiences in your life.

These heart-to-heart conversations with yourself are a great way to become aware of things you want more of and to let go of the things which don’t serve you. This may be as simple as ‘I will make myself more home cooked food this month because it made me feel good and nourished my body well’ or ‘I will pause before reacting in anger to my children and respond in a calmer way.’ Once you set new intentions, let the last month or week go and start the new, positive behavior or action right away. Note: Of course this will take practice and a daily commitment to keeping up with these intentions. Awareness is the first step to any change. Progress over perfection. 😉 

♥️ Your self-love homework…♥️

👄 Love Language: We are often quick to judge or berate ourselves when we make mistakes or fail to meet our own expectations. Your mind listens to every word you say and it turns these words into rules to live by. So, think carefully before you use negative self-talk and consider using daily affirmations or gratitude statements, like these ones from this guided session of our Expand Meditation Program, and see the difference in the way you feel afterwards. 

🛑 Take pauses: Savor a clear glass of water, let the sunrise be the first light you see in the day, or simply take 3 deep breaths; mindful moments anchor you to the beauty and realness of now.

🏃‍♂️ Move: Your daily yoga practice is a foundation on which to build everything else. Move your body in all directions and build heat then melt into savasana to prepare the body for a peaceful meditation. This daily yoga practice mirrors the way we push and let go in life. You can try our new 30 day calendars here if you want a ready-made daily practice. The two beginner level calendars don’t cost a penny, it’s our gift to you!

🥘 Nourishing your physical well-being: Food is the vital data we give to our cells. Opt for nourishment from water and unprocessed, vibrant foods brimming with life force. See below for some insights into eating for your Dosha type in accordance with Ayurvedic Nutrition and check out these Healthy Eating Hacks from Pick Up Limes. Remember to give your body rest and prioritize your sleep, it is essential.

🚧 Hold space: This includes setting and protecting your own boundaries. Learn the art of saying no to that which depletes your energy and yes to the endeavors that nourish your spirit. Surround yourself with the people and activities that inspire you, not drain you.

🎭 Creative Expression: Engage in activities that spark joy - be it painting, writing, gardening, baking, handstanding, music production, DIY projects, dancing, singing, listening to awesome music, or any form of creativity that invites your essence to be free and energized. 

Creativity is intelligence having fun.

Several ways to incorporate self care into your days…

  1. Say no to 3 things you don’t have time for this month. Embrace the JOMO and feel the relief!

  2. Self massage. It’s surprising how much better you can feel with a tennis ball and 5 minutes. Try this self-massage for your neck, or give your tight shoulders, neck and upper back a treat. 

  3. Slow it down with a Restorative Yin Yoga class like this 15 minute relax & restore class or this 30 minute full relaxation chill mode class. It’s important to balance out all those dolphin chaturangas! 😅 

  4. Write your own mantra or affirmation and say it aloud while looking at yourself in the mirror every morning. Here’s a solid list of positive affirmations we suggest. You could even give yourself a high five like Mel Robbins suggests!

  5. Get out in nature and put your feet on the earth to ground yourself as an act of self love to find your happy place, maybe even try a walking meditation. Humans are genetically wired to seek out safe natural landscapes (called biophilia!)

  6. Make a DIY facial scrub or mask and enjoy a little pamper session! We love these face scrubs and face masks recipes(All cruelty free vegan of course!)

  7. Make yourself a delicious drink in your favorite mug, then sit and actually fully enjoy it while not doing ten other things at once. Here’s a recipe video for pumpkin spice latte & matcha latte

  8. Prepare a healthy, nourishing meal for yourself. Some great whole food plant based options here or try our Breathe and Flow faves here.

The Ripple Effect 

The love you cultivate within becomes a luminous beacon for those around you. It becomes a gift, an offering that spills over and uplifts the collective consciousness. Making a positive ripple in the ocean of humanity. In a world often fixated on external standards, remember that true beauty emanates from the heart. The more you nourish yours, the more radiant your spirit becomes.

Love, love and more love,

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📚 Brain Food Recommendations 📚

‘Through the heart-core connection to self-love, we can elevate our own consciousness, deepen our connections with others and contribute to the collective respect, love and peace on earth.’ Jen Oliver talks about How to Love Yourself to the Core in this inspiring Ted Talk.

If you read to the bottom here, we need to tell you something…

❤️ You are so loved ❤️

Love comes from places you never expect and it’s EVERYWHERE.

So receive it, give it and be it.

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