I recently started an Instagram account titled theeverydayselfloveproject. I had another one before under my name and I followed a bunch of people from my facebook and/or other people I would add along the way. That instagram account made me depressed. It felt like a popularity contest and lacked depth. I asked myself, who was I posting photo's for? Why was I wasting my precious time looking at other peoples personal lives through photos of their supposed action packed lives full of cliff jumping, advanced yoga postures on the beach, or what they ate for lunch. I was sometimes guilty of these things too, and will occasionally continue to be. It seemed self indulgent and lacked a greater message or purpose that I felt fed by.
I stopped posting, and deleted it from my phone. That felt like a nice relief. And a gained back anywhere from 5-20 minutes of my being with real life.
On facebook, I have modified what I see to include postings on my wall that tell me what is going on in the world, and inspire me a little bit everyday, rather than only people's daily affairs.
I started theeverydayselfloveproject and I feel it needs to be explained.
Like most people. I have suffered a plenty in my life....at the hands of my own doubt, fear and worry.
I distinctly remember one of the first time I felt fear. I'm sure there were fearful experiences before this time, but this particular time stands out to me. I was sitting on the floor, it was grade 1, I guess I was 5. The bell had rung and I thought it was lunch time. My memory tells me it was the first day of grade one, but oh.. the memory... it's an unreliable thing. When my teacher realized that I was pulling out my lunch box she laughed "at me" (in my perception of things) and told me that "it wasn't lunch...it was only recess". It was such a simple moment, clearly nothing that would be thought of as traumatic, but in my fearful mind, I thought she was laughing at me, because in fact I remember being a little confused about the day's events. I remember that it wasn't just what she had said, or how she said it, it was also that I was afraid the other children might have heard her and that they might think I was stupid.
Insert > fear of appearing stupid.
Fast forward, 30 years later. I still get in my own way. And I have done an incredible amount of work on myself, I have studied and read about many spiritual traditions, neuroscience, and meditations. I have employed different techniques and sought guidance from countless people. I still continue to get in my own way.... it is, and always will be, a never ending journey. I took some time away from doing all the self work, I really needed a break. That break was necessary, but in the end, I cannot help others see their own goodness, experience peace inside of themselves, and continue to progress in their lives, if I am not actively and consciously working on myself, if I am not making peace with and loving the parts of myself that are difficult to love.
For all this time, the thing that I have been searching for boils down to the same thing again and again. It is necessary to enjoy and appreciate the moments in between, because life is but a series of moments in between. The moments in between are often in my experience... moments when it is just me.
The one person who is ALWAYS there. The one person, you cannot get away from. The person most responsible for telling you all sorts of things, good and bad. Directing you in all sorts of ways. The person ultimately who is handling it, with the help of others... yes...but in the end you've got to be the one facing your issues, because they will persist unless you get to the bottom of them. I've come to realize that often the bottom of our issues are rooted in mistrust that we are worthy, capable, lovable and enough.
This is where our defensiveness, self-protection, assumptions, misperceptions, procrastination, and ultimately our own suffering comes from.
And when we are suffering, whether it be in the form of anxiousness, restlessness, sadness, lethargy or stress, we are not in a place where we can be of service to others.
When I am cranky, hurting, tired and wallowing in my own misfortunes then I cannot even begin to know how to be a good friend, teacher, partner, daughter, sister, niece, and aunt. When I am the most content in myself, I have the strength to come out of my own suffering to address bigger issues than myself.
And always there is the natural contradiction of life. Because if I had never known suffering, it whatever form it has taken for me, I might not be able to recognize the suffering of others, and wouldn't feel compelled to help those in need.
I would like to make it known that self love isn't a selfish act. I am not doing it because I think I am amazing and I want everyone to know it. I am doing it because I have thought that I was stupid, not worthy, not lovable, not capable, not kind, weak, sick, and without the energy to be of service. And although I don't know too many people who are willing to admit this for themselves, I do know some. And let it not be a surprise that most of them are women. And it just so happens that they are the most amazing women I know, and I am always dumbfounded by their fears.
Outside of the women who have shared with me their fears, I know plenty of people who are in pain, and suffering at the hands of their own doubts and fears too, and lots of sensitive men who realize they've got some work to do on themselves. In fact, the most selfish thing you can do is to stay in the suffering. When you are there, you cannot come out of yourself to really be present with what is happening around you. It is difficult to share and to really listen, it is difficult to be kind, it is difficult to stand up for something bigger than yourself when you are in your own pain.
And if the words pain and suffering feel too extreme and you do not resonate with them, ask yourself, what are you not doing in your life that you've always wanted to do? And why are you not doing it? Where are you stuck? Is there a purpose bigger than you own micro world that you want to be a part of? Why are you not a part of it yet?
I do believe that we can both work on loving ourselves and being of service simultaneously, because one will feed the other. So the questions above are also a part of loving yourself everyday.
Even on your darkest days, find a moment to love where you are at, and smile at a stranger or do something for someone who needs it. They are all an expression of the same thing, and will lead you to the same place.
Nowadays, on Instagram, the majority of who I am following are other inspirational quotes and messages. There was even a time when I had had enough of that. But then I came to realize, they are there because they are needed in this world of great pain and suffering, and if you don't have it right now yourself, look around you...because it is everywhere...people are suffering, the environment is suffering. Use your good moments to be of service.
The next level is to come out of your pain and suffering and help the planet. More on that soon.
What can you do to help outside of yourself?
Hailing from a suburb of Toronto, I moved to the West Coast of Canada in 2004 to study Environmental Science in Victoria, BC. Always passionate about the health of Mother Earth and the health of those who occupied it. I studied yoga in India in 2007 returned to Vancouver in 2008. I taught yoga and worked at one of Vancouver's leading Naturopathic Clinics as a Clinical Associate. I continued to study yoga with some fantastic and respected North American teachers and returned to India for more studies in 2011. Now, I live in Paris, France and teach both group classes and privately. My aim is to bring about improved well-being, in whatever form is required.