It took time & effort (I still have work to do and I always will) but right now I am able to say that I love myself over anything or anyone else in this world.
I love not only the physical aspects of myself but also, and most importantly, the inner ones. For instance:
♥ I used to hate my belly so deeply and for so long! It was always there in the middle, ruining every tight dress or coming out of the sexiest bikinis. Now, however, I enjoy my little belly and I rest my hands on it in the evenings when I go to sleep, sending it all my love and gratitude for being there supporting me, right in the middle, giving me balance.
♥ Another example: I used to think I was shy & useless when mixing with people, unable to stand up & talk for myself. Now I realise that I have a great capacity to be quiet, listening, looking, doing nothing, just being. It becomes truly useful with my job and also when meeting new people, so I can always offer a quality active listening. And on top of that, I love doing it!
There is too much going on around us these days, too much to do, too many things happening at once. I felt I was getting lost. My true being was going missing within all the lights, colours, trends & social regulations. I seemed to spend my life seeking something, looking to fill up some spaces, making myself complete, occupied, busy, entertained, engaged, loved…
Enough of all that, now! I need to create some distance so I can get away from all that noise in order to hear & see my true self, and if I’ve learnt anything about what that means and how it feels, I’ve done it through yoga first and then thanks to meditation.
I began my yoga practice in 2003. I joined a huge fancy gym and started attending yoga and taichi classes with excitement. Taichi did not bring much to me but yoga was different. At first it only felt like a very different way to exercise: in silence instead of having loud music around, and not competing with anyone but with myself, trying to push my boundaries a little bit further with each pose, for another few more seconds.
It was a mental combat with my own mind. She was saying: ‘that’s it, enough now, it is too painful, plus you are not a flexible person anyway, you are going to break it!’. I was saying: ‘I can do it, I want to do it, I am going to do it. I am in charge of my own body, not my body in charge of me. If other people can do it and we are all made of the same tissue & bones, then I can do it too’. The feeling afterwards was great: I was light, almost like a feather, nothing was hurting or pulling, there was no pressure anywhere in my body, my mind was still & peaceful and I could sleep incredibly well the evenings after my practice. I am not surprised that yoga is actually the exercise that Masters of meditation do before sitting for hours of deep practice.
Through these years I've been lucky enough to have 4 different yoga teachers & I've shared my time with classmates of all ages & nationalities. I’ve done my yoga indoor & outdoor, in the morning & in the evening, in English & in Spanish, with natural & with artificial light, with music in the background & in silence. But what I’ve always felt was the beauty of being there, present, with myself, enjoying my practice & its evolution within my body, thanking & loving every cell for doing its job, helping me to go further in order to feel better & be better.
When practising yoga, meditation is something that might come naturally at some point, if the person is ready for it. Meditation is that space that I give to myself as a precious gift. I sit comfortably on my cushion, with the right clothes (depending on the season) and the right light, in & with my 3 ‘S’: silence, stillness & solitude. It is all about enjoying time with the person that I’ve learnt to love the most in this world. ME!!!
Sitting on my cushion, allowing myself to be as I am right at that moment, unfolding my fears & certainties, just breathing. There is nothing else to do, nowhere to go. It is just me with myself there, focusing on my breathing first, making it deeper & abdominal, following the path that the air follows through my body, amazing myself with the perfection & wisdom of this machine that my body is.
Then other thoughts will start to visit me, of course: ‘What am I going to cook for dinner tonight? I must send that article to this client, he will love it. When did I speak last to my Mum? I had better ring her later anyway. Gosh, that dog is noisy... Off he goes with the barking again… Maybe I should go back to salsa lessons… Am I breathing? Ups, I lost it again…’ That’s how it goes always, every time. And after thoughts, feelings come into stage too: ‘I am so cold! I am shivering! My head is beating; I cannot concentrate with this headache. How can I be so useless? Here I am, unable to focus on something so simple... What am I going to do with myself? I feel anxious right now and angry with myself, and that anger is warming me up actually which is good but…, no, my feet are still freezing. Damn it! I am off again…’.
My mind never stops, always wanting to be listened to, to be the shining star. I let the thoughts and the feelings in, embracing them at first with love & compassion, then letting them go. I smile from the inside showing gratitude to my mind & my body for being so capable to file all these thoughts & feelings that design my daily life & make me human. But it is not time for planning dinners or agendas. It is time to simply be there: still, silent, on my own. ‘But what’s the point? What are you getting out of this? Come on! There is so much to do and you are sitting there, doing nothing other than breathing! I want you to do real productive things! ’ That was my mind talking again, by the way. She thinks she knows best but she doesn’t. I do. I deserve this space. I want it for me. That's it.
I read somewhere that when that moment of confusion comes, it is when I am entering into the path of awakening. And it makes sense, because when those moments arise, all of a sudden I am so right there, open to my own awareness, sensing what existence is really about through my breathing and the incredible beauty & knowledge that I treasure.
I need that space. I choose to spend time on my own, in my own company. This is where I find my answers. I decide not to fill myself up with outside things or people anymore. There isn't anybody or anything other than me that can fill my emptiness, if there is such a thing. Searching for distractions is only a way to escape. Looking within with the ears & the eyes of my soul is the route for me to find the peace of mind I long for. Of course I love people: my perfect partner in love, my great family, my wonderful friends, my amazing clients… I love things too: my books, my terrace, my photographs & clothes, the sea, the trees. But I don’t need anyone or anything to be me and that’s where the beauty lies. I want all these people and things to be part of my life but I come first, I don’t need them to be & they don’t need me either. They don’t have my solutions and I don’t tie them to any sort of expectations. Now is all about freedom, individual responsibility & personal choice.
Some might not understand it sometimes and it is ok like that. Some things cannot be explained. They must be experienced & felt. I guess this is one of them. As long as I am in charge of my own life everything will be fine.
P.S.: Thanks to my dear friend Fer for his Cambodian Buddha pic.
“Be soft in your practice.
Think of the method as a fine slivery stream,
Not a raging waterfall.
Follow the stream,
have faith in its course.
It will go its own way,
meandering here, trickling there.
It will find the grooves, the cracks, the crevices.
Just follow it.
Never let it out of your sight.
It will take you”