Learning to Love Myself

I'm taking a tip from my cat Matisse, whom you see above in his blue period, and I'm learning to love myself.....again. I practice this, but it doesn't seem to stick for very long. It's easy to forget, when I get caught up in the tasks and responsibilities of everyday life, that I need to love myself even while doing all those seemingly ordinary things. And it can sound pretty silly at times, the idea that I need to practice loving myself. After all, who am I to think it's okay to love myself? Or to even think about it. Nobody told me to do that when I was growing up.  In fact, it was discouraged. Loving myself would make me become conceited, spoiled, and a snob with a swelled head and a big ego. Our culture tells us these things.  Unfortunately, I listened to the discouraging voices that had made a home in my head and I learned to doubt and berate myself whenever the opportunity arose.  

I know better now, but it's hard to change thought patterns that are very entrenched in the mind. Awareness is the key.  It is most easily developed through practices such as meditation, contemplation, prayer, yoga, or reading spiritual works. Through awareness, or being the Witness, it is possible to become an observer of the thoughts in the mind that are not beneficial to our happiness or growth as a human and spiritual being. This very witnessing of the mind is what can change negative habitual thinking into a more positive and uplifting experience.  It is a process, and not accomplished overnight, but the practice can create a transformation in every aspect of our lives. With the positive change in our thoughts comes a positive change in our feeling.  Our positive feeling has the capacity to hold love more fully than negative feeling.  The kind of love that I am talking about is not that which we get from circumstances outside of ourselves.  It comes welling up freely from within.