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A Valentine to yourself

Love is in the air! I’m sure you don’t need reminding that it’s Valentine’s Day today. Of course, I’ve had a busy morning opening all my cards and arranging roses 😉 but managed to find some time to post this loved up blog.

Corpse pose

Relax, one of the kindest things you can do for your back

Of course it is wonderful to love and cherish others, but what I want to write about today is how important it is to love ourselves. I’m not talking about a superficial, vanity and ego driven love, that can only work if we meet external standards of perfection, and I’m not talking about a selfish love that only cares for one’s own happiness. They are not true love. I’m talking about really loving and approving ourselves on a very deep level, regardless of who or what we are, and allowing this love to radiate inwards and outwards.

I’ve been doing a lot of research recently into auto immune disorders, where our bodies are literally attacking ourselves. There are over 100 auto immune conditions, and this long list of illnesses includes many digestive / bowel issues, food allergies, some thyroid conditions, fibromyalgia, lupus, MS, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. Common illnesses, the incidence of which has risen dramatically over the last decade, particularly in women.

Nobody really has an answer as to why this is happening and there isn’t much by way of treatment options available. Steroids and painkillers to alleviate symptoms, but no cure.

Our immune system is there to protect us from harmful substances, such as bacteria and viruses, but in an auto immune condition the immune system goes into hyper drive. Unable to recognise the difference between healthy tissue and the baddies, the immune system starts attacking healthy organs and tissues, as seen in auto immune disorders.

One of the most enlightening books on the subject that I have read is Louise Hay’s “Loving yourself to great health”. In it she explains her theory on auto immune conditions. I found this difficult and uncomfortable to accept at first, but the more I have worked with own auto immune disease, researched, talked to my consultant and other health care providers, I have to say that it becomes more and more plausible. Not only that though, as I have started to embrace this theory, and I have recognised that this is a huge part of what yoga teaches, I have taken another leap forwards towards good health.

In a nutshell then, Louise Hay suggests that because we are constantly bombarding ourselves with images of what is perfect, berating ourselves for not being perfect, constantly telling ourselves that we are not good enough, that we are failing because we are not living the wonderful Instagram / Facebook / glossy magazine life so often presented, then our body is now seeing us as so bad that we are attacking ourselves. Yes! I’ll say that again. Our minds give us such a hard time, that our hard working immune system now believes we are just another pathogen that needs to be got rid of. Ouch!

On top of that I recognised that I have not been taking care of myself quite as well as I might. Yet more messages to my body that I was not worth good health. I say this not to make you feel worse about yourself but to share what has helped me. One of the first things the Ayurvedic GP did with me, was go through my lifestyle and diet with a fine tooth comb. We flagged up areas where I could make changes and I have a very clear map now of what nurtures and nourishes me. Not only that, even my protocol from the hospital is rest, rest and more rest. My consultant told me to have a siesta every day and to reduce my stress levels, as that would cause flare ups of my condition.

What I can tell you though, is that taking great care of yourself and loving and approving of yourself really does work. It has worked for me and I know it can work for you.

A great place to start is affirmations. I know they can be uncomfortable but honestly, the more you say them, they more they become your default thought pattern. The yogis have long known that we are what we think, and now research into neuro-science is proving that. Start with something simple, here are a couple of my favourites: “I now choose to love and approve of myself”, “I am safe, life is for me”, “I am willing to change all patterns of criticism, I love and approve of myself”.

Add these to some daily relaxation, and if possible a regular Dru yoga practice, focussed on the heart and meditation, then I know you will feel a big shift in energy.

So, please, today give yourself a big Valentines hug 🙂

I’ll leave you with a quote from Lucille Ball “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Ix

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