— His Holiness Radhanath Swami
And that includes self-love, which for many, isn’t that easy. That’s why I created my First Love Yourself (FLY) workshops many years ago.
This week, I head to Reston, Virginia to share my signature session with fellow certified yoga therapists from around the world at the annual SYTAR conference. Then, Saturday, June 24, I lead a FLY session at the peaceful Serasana Dripping Springs near Austin.
My 90-minute therapeutic offering begins with an Indigenous-inspired heart-opening cacao ceremony. Then, participants relax in heart-opening restorative poses as I read thought-provoking and uplifting poems and prose from Maya Angelou, Pablo Neruda, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson and Louise Hay. We close with introspective written exercises and words from the American-born spiritual leader and humanitarian Radhanath Swami.
All passages from the spiritual master are excerpts from my newly released book, “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram.” One chapter, “Happiness Isn’t a Big Bank Account” features sage advice based on his many lectures I’ve attended in the U.S., Italy, and his home base in India.
Yogic wisdom says we are meant to be happy. People should feel a sense of fulfillment and unending enjoyment in the heart.
However, Radhanath Swami says, modern-day priorities too often push us out of whack. One may bear unending senses of obligation, or put blinders over true desires.
“We lose ourselves… with materialism. We’re obsessed with the things money can buy,” says Radhanath Swami. “You can tell how rich you are by counting [what] you have that money cannot buy. Things can never give fulfillment to the heart. Peace. Love. These things bring purpose to life.
“Our nature is to love," he says. "When we open our hearts, we become full of happiness and instruments of love. Love empowers us. When we forget the treasures within us, we struggle to find happiness through this body and mind. If we are not happy within, we cannot be happy under any circumstances.”
Isn't that the truth?
Too often we wear invisible armor to protect our hearts and ourselves.
My spiritual and alternative medicine healing book is all about simple, enjoyable, no-cost practices to guide people to optimal health-- and happiness. Yet that sense of physical, emotional and spiritual well-being relies on self-love and self-care.
It is crucial to FLY.
Ruth is one of the women who traveled with me to India earlier this year. At one of our lectures about love, the Chicagoan voiced a common roadblock. “Some people think if you love yourself, it’s selfish.”
I hear that over and over again. Yet, it’s crucial to take care of ourselves, and love ourselves. Without a healthy dose of self-care and self-love, it's impossible to love or truly care for others.
As one of our lecturing monks in India responded to Ruth's comment, “A drowning person can drown the helper. If you don’t love yourself, you can’t give love to others.”
Another American on my India trip, Yvette, said, “I think we get caught up with the word love.”
I agree. Partly because of the Disneyesque storylines, which are far from the love described in scriptures.
Plus, in English, the word love is floated around so much that it loses much of its meaning.
In Spanish, however, there are two verbs for love: amar and querer. The first implies an overpowering sense of surrender that comes from the heart, whereas the latter translates to “to want.”
As Hilda noted in one of our sessions in India, “Intergenerational trauma often enables barriers. When you don’t have the proper role models, you don’t always know how to love yourself.”
In other words, we have to heal the inner child to have a solid sense of self-worth and self-love. It can be a long path, but keep on it. Be patient. Keep watering the seeds of self-appreciation.
As I quote Radhanath Swami in “From the Boxing Ring to the Ashram,” “Love life. Love yourself. Love humanity. Love other species. Love the planet.”
Make the world a better place...if you can. FLY. First. Love. Yourself.