Guest Blogger Jackie Coleman Explores Valentines and how Mindfulness can help bring more love and balance to your Valentines
It's that time of year again, Valentine's Day. Perhaps this is an occasion that you enjoy or one that you dread. Either way we associate it with expressing love and kindness to our partners, other halves and significant people in our lives. The card shops are stocked with gifts, chocolates, cards, fluffy toys. You name it, at the moment everything is pink or red and has hearts on it. How can we bring a sense of balance to love and to ourselves? How can we make, what is now a commercially driven event, more conscious and spiritual?
It starts with looking inward and learning to love ourselves. No easy task. Working on ourselves, how we think of and view ourselves is difficult. But this forms an important part of the underlying message in self-love and self-esteem. There will be days when it's hard. When nothing you do is right or goes to plan. That's life and it's what makes and keeps things interesting. What is important is taking these experiences and not assigning self-blame or lingering too long on the negative aspects. Use mistakes and failures as opportunities to change, grow and move forward. But again, that's the easy part. Dealing with the thinking mind. The hardest aspect of loving ourselves and showing more kindness to ourselves, as women, is with our bodies. How we look, what our bodies can and cannot do is usually the hardest part of self development and self esteem. Women spend a lot of time, money, energy and thought on how they look, what they eat, what to wear and how they move. I love pretty clothes, getting my hair done and wearing make up as much as the next person but without that inner appreciation for myself it's really all for nothing. Only you can make you happy. And only you can give you the love that your mind believes should come from other sources - partner, shoes, bikini body size.
How do we start then? A simple exercise is to do a simple mindfulness exercise reflecting upon yourself. Take some time when you won't be disturbed and sit in a comfortable position in front of a mirror. Look at the image of yourself in the mirror. Take in all the features, without judgment. Whilst looking at yourself bring your attention to your breathing. Allowing the breath to come in and out through the nose in a deep, even rhythm. Expanding the belly as you inhale and drawing the belly back towards the spine as you exhale. Allow the breath to take any thoughts that arise in your mind during this exercise away. You may find this uncomfortable, mentally that is, which is completely normal. Know that your breathing will support you through this exercise and that you are safe and supported. Just stay with the breath, it will carry those thoughts away. Now think of a positive affirmation such as "I am kind and loving", "I am healthy and strong" or "I radiate light and beauty". Repeat the affirmation on the inhalation and on the exhalation repeat the following "I remove all self negativity". Repeat this for 10 breaths, placing both hands on your chest over your heart, before letting your breathing return to normal and your mind returning to stillness.
Repeat this exercise everyday if you wish or once a week and take note of your thoughts and feelings. Look at whether you notice any changes the more often you do this exercise. And remember to be kind and patient with yourself. Give yourself a wonderful gift of self knowledge love that will start to radiate from you, others will start to notice!