According to the good ol’ Oxford Dictionary our spirit is ‘The nonphysical part of a person that is the seat of emotions and character; the soul.’
So that’s the official blurb.
I always see the spirit as that ageless, playful side of our being, the part that needs nurturing and downtime, the part that needs quietude and laughter and expression and balance. Without it we’d be rather robotic.
Our spirits are accurate and instant gauges as to whether we’re living in harmony with our hearts desires or whether we’re waaaay off track and need to re-center.
The language of our soul is our feelings so we needn’t look far-or hard-to discover the messages it seeks to impart.
Take today. I was up late researching the delights of Pinterest and up with the first bird chirp this morning. My spirit is telling me I’m over saturated with desk time and my spirit is longing to rest today, to stretch, bend, to get rosy-cheeked in nature.
Ignoring the messages of our spirits leads to stress, anxiety, addiction and depression. Yes indeed, my friend, nigh impossible conditions to grow self love from.
So how to do we grow cultivate spiritual self love?
1) It’s the simple, small pleasures that tend to delight our spirits, the wee courtesies that we extend ourselves. Eating lunch outside in the sun, downloading a new book to listen to whilst doing the housework, lighting a scented candle, keeping a clean, bright home, moisturizing our bodies, using essential oils, laying our clothes out for the next day to make the morning rush that bit easier, a pedicure ‘just because,’ treating ourselves to a Starbucks or a creative magazine. In essence, the key is to start treating ourselves like we would someone we dearly love. Most of us do these small things to brighten someone else’s day, how about doing them for ourselves?
2) Build in daily quiet time. If we are so busy zipping from to-do to to-do our spirits never really get the opportunity to peek out. Schedule quiet time to bathe or to read or to walk or to watch a heart-warmer of a show. Far from being a time-waster I often find that it’s in my periods of downtime that I’m privy to the best- tink- ‘Light bulb!’ moments. Life is all about inhale and exhale; we tend to exhale for so long that we nigh pass out every night. How about taking a little inhale, seeing how that makes a difference?
3) What are the best conditions for you to thrive? Some people keep themselves so perpetually busy to avoid really meeting themselves. They might not want to sit with themselves, reflect, and be with the wo/man in the mirror. Some people are just darn busy! But getting to know ourselves is an essential component to foster self love. What makes you tick? What are your weaknesses? Your strengths? Once we know them we can start to accommodate ourselves.
For example, I’m an outgoing introvert which means I love being around people and my spirit adores being social. I often appear as an extrovert. Yet the introvert side of me needs time and space inbetween, I need my own company to recharge my batteries. Therefore I’m learning to say a polite yet empowered ‘no’ when I feel I have too many commitments on my plate. I’m also a planner, I dislike things being sprung on me at the last minute. So, knowing this, I try and plan ahead and organize my schedule to acccomadate. I’m also highly sensitive so I avoid large crowds, I go supermarket shopping during quiet weekday times and avoid opening night at the cinema. In fact today (thanks to Audible credit:-) I’m downloading the book ‘The Highly Sensitive Person’ by Elaine N. Aron so that I might be able to understand my sensitivity better and thus love on me that bit more. Once we know what we are naturally like we can start to prepare the best soil for us to thrive in. What are your little nuances? How can you cater to your character that bit more?
4) Our spirits long for creative expression in whatever way appeals to you. Is that painting or cooking or interior design or writing, maybe sketching? Is it something that you’ve never tried but your spirit has a fancy to? For me, the fastest and most satisfying way I can feel good about myself is to write. I know that my soul longs for this written expression. There is no buzz like pulling something out of your mind’s eye and into putting it into the physical world. I did that. It doesn’t matter if only one person gains pleasure from it (namely, You:-) It doesn’t even have to be a natural talent; art is not my strong suit but I painted (not freehand)! a tree on my daughter’s wall recently, which gives me such a feeling of YEAH every time I walk into her room. And bear in mind too that sometimes we tell ourselves, I’m no good at x,y and z only because we’ve never tried it before.
Pinterest, the virtual pinboard, is the perfect place to find inspiration for a creative project.
Our spirits tend to transport us into ‘the zone’ during creative times, that most delicious state where our thoughts simmer down, our senses are all pulled into the creation process, hunger and thirst and physical needs are left at the door: This is the spiritual state where magic happens.
5) Challenge yourself, push past your comfort zone: Our spirit’s nature is to evolve, to expand. They don’t like to tred water and thus they whisper to us to go there or to try that. Oftentimes its Fear (yes with a capital F) that holds us back. I heard Evelyn Greenslade say this on the ‘Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ and it stuck “Sometimes it seems to me that the difference between what we want and what we fear is a width of an eyelash.” Too true. So what is it that scares you, but at the same time thrills you to imagine?!
For me it was that old classic, public speaking. So, I signed myself up for an Orators group, Toastmasters, during my husband’s year long deployment to Afghanistan. The greater the fear, the greater the thrill in accomplishment. After my first few speeches soundly in the bag, I felt as though I was walking on air. I’d never felt more proud of myself. You’ll only know if you can do something if you try. And, as I always say to my kids, rarely are our hearts desires easy to achieve.
6) Tend to your inner child. Why? Because our mini-me’s are much more in tune with the desires of our particular spirit. I once read John Bradshaw’s book ‘Home Coming; Reclaiming and Healing Your Inner Child.’ For the first time in my life I realized little Yvette was still there, still inside of me. She needed my attention, my time and my love. The powerful meditations in this book brought me, internally, face to face with that sweet wee girl. I realized that I could parent her. I could hold her when she was scared and tell her it would be ok, I could right the wrongs, I could take her to the park, or do the things she loves.
In return she makes my spirit come alive because she reminds me of who I am and what my unadulterated gifts and desires are. She exists outside of adult responsibility, before I burdened myself with what was possible and what was not. She lives in a time before I had muddied my outlook and acquired all the extra baggage. She lives where the imagination rules, with tree houses, invisible friends and fairytales. In honoring wee Yvette, and embracing her as a part of who I am, I can love myself better because she- in her clumsy childlike manner-tells it how it is.
It may help to stick a picture of you as a child on the fridge or mirror, perhaps a photo of you at a childhood time where you felt vulnerable. Every time you look into those fragile eyes never miss the opportunity to send waves light and love into them. Ask yourself, what would my inner child think of me now? Disney’s ‘The Kid’ movie with Bruce Willis illustrates the power and presence of our inner child beautifully. Friday family movie night watch perhaps?!
Oftentimes it’s the whims of our spirits that get sidelined for the sensations of the body or the demands of the mind. Just because our spirits are quieter, doesn’t mean they are any less important. As children we danced with them so much more, and wasn’t that such a whimsical, enchanting time for those amongst us who were lucky enough to have a happy childhood?
It’s the spirit that puts the fun element into self love. In what ways can you love on yours today?