Every one of us came to the planet to figure out how to experience love in the human form. It is amusing to observe all the ways we try to find love, especially since most of us don't even know what we are doing. But Love does exist. To truly recognize it, one must be willing to understand that it comes in many forms and in many ways. It only then makes sense to begin with who you are and where you are, on the life journey.
Love the one you are with. Whether you are around others or not, it doesn't matter. The "one" that you must begin loving here is yourself. A big part of this self love, is in remaining loyal to your life journey for what it is. It is your soul's curriculum, unique to your own divine unfoldment..
Unfortunately many religious and cultural programming has led us to believe that focusing on ourselves is selfish. Obviously narcissistic, egomaniac behavior is not proposed. Neither is self-negation and self-abuse. If you need an excuse to transition yourself into the self-love mode, imagine that how you treat yourself impacts the lives of others. When you treat yourself poorly, others suffer too. Your pain creates pain in the collective energy we share. Everyone gets a dose. When you treat yourself well, others benefit. We are all share the same world, collective consciousness and universe. Self-love therapy for ourselves heals us all.
The Challenge of "Self Love"
One of my great spiritual teachers, Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, once challenged a group of us to attempt to love ourselves as much as we love G-d. "Loving G-d is the easy part", he began, "but the real challenge is whether you can feel the same love you have for G-d, towards yourself". I remember half the room of people who were there were completely speechless by this statement, because of both the simplicity of the teaching, yet the profound truth it was revealing at that moment to many of us. There was no question of how much we loved G-d, but the idea of loving ourselves with as much desire and yearning that we felt for Spirit felt both challenging and revealing. An idea that needed time to digest and explore.
In working with many people, both as a rabbi and a life coach, I have found that the idea of "self love" doesn't come easy for most people. In fact, most people practice "being good to themselves" or refrain from "beating up on themselves" and that one day is considered "generous" or "progress". This is because it is harder to see ourselves as we really are - standing in the Light that is our birthright, than to see it in others.
Why is this so?
Self is not a static "thing" that you are cherishing. Self is an energy that is alive, in constant flux and motion. It is a localized expression of an Overall Supreme Being. What we are is a Self that is dynamic, but in a body that is physical, temporal and a "thing". And that is what creates the confusion. The Self is a verb (an action). While the body is a noun (static identity - person, place or thing). The difficult we often have with "self love" is when it is a noun we are seeking to love. When we seek a some "thing" to love, an it just doesn't feel right, and so we turn away thinking, "I'm having a hard time loving myself", "I'm not sure how", or "I just don't feel like its working".
Once we understand what the concept of "Self" is it will be much easier to practice "Self love".
I Am That I Am
Mystics love to remember when Moses, standing before the burning bush in his moment of Divine Encounter, asks in whose Name he is to act. It is here that G-d speaks the Sacred Name, E-heye Asher E-heye, I Am That I Am; and we have from then on the closest thing we will ever have for G-d's name for Itself, a statement of unconditional being.
I Am is a statement which is constrained by no description whatsoever. It not only is a completely open-ended subject, but can actually function as a verb. E-heye Asher E-heye, while commonly translated as I Am as I Am, is literally translated from the original Hebrew as "I Am Becoming as I Am Becoming". In other words, it is a verb in motion, changeless yet ever-changing, formless yet ever-evolving in the infinite and multi-faceted expressions of Creation. It is something we can sense and experience to some degree, but never completely apprehend its infinitude.
We might remember that the sacred name of I Am is our essential name as well. If we remember that the Divine Nature is our nature, then we know that the Divine Name is our name as well, only we condition this name by our own unique and individual characteristics. When I introduce myself and say, "My name is Michael," I am conditioning the unconditioned with my own personality.
However, just as we condition the unconditioned, we can also slip the bounds of personality and rest again in unconditioned-ness, in the peace, power, and love that is G-d within us. Then we are remembering the true sacredness of our being and, for a time, reveling in the Nature that heals and inspires us.
Affirmation for this Moment
I am at peace; I am creative; I am the beloved place where G-d stands forth in the world as myself. Knowing who I am, I revere and honor the sacredness of my being every time I speak my own name. My name reminds me that my nature is Divine and that I have a magnificent inheritance in front of me. It is joyful for me to know who I truly am.
The Most Effective Place to Begin
We can begin to put self love in action by loving where we are at on the Journey. But the secret to doing this step right is that loving where we are at must also include loving all our present obstacles. While the idea seems odd at first, and often contrary to what we may really be feeling, it is one of the inevitable gates we must enter in order to restored to true wholeness.
The key here is allowance and acceptance of your Self. This means accepting your entire HUMAN SELF, with all its parts, desirable or not. It is not until we accept our human selves that our Divine Selves can emerge.
From a Coaching Perspective - What this step is about
Most of us have experienced feeling stuck, overwhelmed or just confused, in one way or another. It can be related to a very specific project (e.g. experiencing writer's block). Or It can be a more complex situation, like deciding whether it is time to end a relationship or not. Often it can also be more all encompassing -- a general sense of "stuckness" that colors all of life.
Until you acknowledge, accept and appreciate where you are in your life right now, you won't truly be able to move on. That is all this step is saying. Many successful coaching approaches demonstrate that spending too much of one's time in solving problems is rarely satisfactory in the long-term, and instead we should focus on what we want to create. We ALL create, everything from good relationships, to successful meeting outcomes, to careers, and yes... music, paintings, inventions, sculptures and books. But the importance of acceptance first, before we create, will enable us to create our goals freely as opposed to allowing our conflicts to fuel our need to "run away from".
Why this step is important
When you're fighting against where you are, you're automatically stuck.
When you love where you are, you stop spending all your energy trying to escape. You can get rid of what's bugging you.You find clues about what direction to take.
The paradox: once you love where you are, you'll start to move. Guaranteed.
What will your life look like when you love where you are?
You feel an incredible sense of relief - there's nowhere you have to "get to".
There'll be less junk: junk things, junk behavior.
You develop more appreciation for the people in your life.
You begin to notice opportunities embedded in your situation.You cultivates a deeper sense of self-knowing, awareness and sensitivity.
Begin to release resistance and fear.
You allow the creative feminine flow of energy.
Two mistakes we all make when beginning this step:
Trying to figure out "what to do", when you don't need to do anything at this first initial step.
Judging your present life as bad or wrong. NEVER put a value judgment on where you are at on the Path. Even when it is challenging, avoid the word, "bad" or "evil". Perhaps use terms like, "difficult", "challenging", etc.. Better yet, begin looking at your life in terms of seasons. If its a "winter" time in your life, that means you are SUPPOSED TO be hibernating, cocooning, metamorphsizing, etc.. When its spring again, you will know it. See life for what it is, in all its changes and cycles, without feeling compelled to put a value judgment on it.
AMEN = Affirmation and Acceptance
"Amen" is the archetypal biblical response of affirmation and acceptance. It appears thirty times in the Hebrew Bible, and always carries nuances of truth, trust and reliability. Whether it was used as a response to curses or blessings, to prayers of praise and thanks, or to prayers of petition, it expressed the speaker's endorsement of the preceding statement or event.
The Hebrew Bible records an interesting event where six of the tribes of Israel ascend Mount Gerizim, the other six tribes of Israel ascend Mount Eybal, while the priests, Levites and Holy Ark remain below between the mountains. The Levites turn first towards Mount Gerizim proclaiming the blessings and then towards Mount Eybal proclaiming the curses, and with each pronouncement the Israelites atop the mountains respond Amen BOTH to the blessings and the curses !! (Deuteronomy 27:12 B.T. Sotah, ibid., , Rashi ad loc).
When you begin to love where you are at, and even bless the "enemies" that come along the Path, they have no hold on you.
While loving ourselves is often something that is easier said than done, we can always begin cherishing where we are at, regardless of circumstances. This frees up the energy to move forward, but most importantly, we begin to appreciate the time with spend with ourselves along the way, and through each season. Our journey becomes a lot more like an adventure to live, than a crisis to be solved.
Copyright 2004 by Michael Ozair, Los Angeles, CA. Prepared in collaboration with KabbalahCoach.com.
Rabbi Michael Ozair has been providing spiritual guidance for the last 15 years to a very wide and diverse range of people. He is an ordained rabbi, a well sought after scholar in the area of Kabbalah, published author, life purpose coach and spiritual counselor. Michael's expertise stems from merging his knowledge as a teacher of metaphysics with his experience in practical counseling. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting his website at http://www.kabbalahcoach.com