We, the practitioners of “Embodied practice”, talk about what is important to us - about us humans, our bodies and our relation with the body, about listening and hearing ourselves and what to do when we don’t feel well. We are talking about keys that open doors into friendship with the body and our own truth. We will talk about it in the future as well.
And today we invite you to our third video podcast about what is Self-Love?
* The opinions shared in this video are not medical advice and cannot replace a doctor’s consultation.
Jurga: Hello, today we are saying Hi from different workplaces of “Embodied Practice” - at our homes. Together with you is myself - Jurga as well as Ernesta, Ingrida and Gediminas. Today is February, a month where traditionally Valentine's day is celebrated. There’s a lot of talking about love around, commercial institutions offer us hearts and teddy bears... And it is not necessarily the love that we go through our life with. Therefore today I would like to invite us all to think about what is love for the person who is closest to us. And that person whom we start with from our first breath until our last sigh of life is me, is each of us. So this is the question for today: what is self-love that is being talked about so often these days? I would like to invite my colleagues to share their thoughts. Ernesta, maybe you would like to begin?
Ernesta: Yes, I will start since I feel invited. Somehow, when we first decided that we should pick this topic, maybe not that we should but that we would like to, that it is appearing in space - this love to self, I have met a big unknown and I am still meeting it now. That all the way up to this moment I do not know what is self-love. And today when I woke up in the morning, hmmm. First of all the question - who am I? In order to understand what is self-love. And I understand that I could not name one single thing. Somehow I choose to eat that elephant bit by bit. So when I name that “me as a physical body” and the question what is love to self as a physical body, I clearly understand that it is very important for me to caress myself in time. It is important to take care of myself - that I have eaten and I am not thirsty. And that I exercised in time. And since I perceive my body as a means of transport, it is important for me to make sure to take care of it so that I could move, that my body could carry me. So love to self as a physical body is about being able to move and to take care of self. Love to self as a personality, as a set of competencies - it is important for me to make sure that I have enough skills, so that I could develop them. And to discern, what competencies I really want to have and grow them and which ones already to release into a compost bin. And another Me, as a set of emotions and feelings - it’s again to take care that there is space for them to be expressed, to be, do, contain. Yes. And what I hear myself say on the topic of self-love: for me it is about taking care of different parts of self through which I perceive myself as a unit. Yes, here I stop. Passing the word. To whomever is ready.
Jurga: Ingrida, maybe you would like to continue?
Ingrida: Hmm. Yes, self-love. I have been thinking about this question when we have decided on this topic. And I tried to imagine examples, where I do feel, I do feel that love. And which I create myself. I feel that love is in the moment when I create love and feel it at the same time. A sort of connection around one specific object. So it seems that love to self may equally be taking care of someone else. And at the same time if I feel love for another person, I feel the love within myself as well. And it’s about that self-love. And equally love for self are words, for example, the ones that I say to others and to myself. For example an invitation for myself to not rush. Invitation to self or calling myself by a very nice word, for example, when life is tough for me, calling myself sweetheart or darling or another sweet word - it is self-love. In the same way, when I call others by sweet names, I feel that love within myself and it is about self-love. And I also think of very simple actions, for example, covering myself or another with a blanket when it is cold. For example. Or getting up and moving when I really don’t want to do that but I feel that it will be good for me, that it will bring goodness. So such simple examples. For me love is something very simple. Gediminas, would you like to continue?
Gediminas: Mmm. This is a topic that felt very relevant for me some time ago. And then, I don’t remember when exactly, I have created a script in my head that I somehow keep repeating when this topic arises. But while listening to you I was wondering how much is it still alive, how much liveliness is still there. And I think that it is still quite alive. So, love I generally perceive as space. Whether it is love for self or for someone else. It is simply space where the main component of it is acceptance. The way I understand it. Acceptance means allowing to be what is, what exists. Probably like an opposite of coercion. That love is the opposite of coercion. So continuing the topic of self-love, I perceive it as space where I accept myself in the way that I am. And cultivating self-love is learning to accept oneself. Discover what is actually me. And not what I am supposed to be, which in my view would be coercion. And in essence, sometimes self-love is acknowledging that you hate yourself, that let’s say those feelings exist. So self-love for me is not about warm feelings, about something that is very cozy and very pleasant. It is often simply allowing the things that are very unpleasant be. But acknowledging that they exist, we create an opportunity for them, we create space for them. And therefore we create an opportunity for them to grow. Because growth can only happen when there is space for that. I see this as a necessary condition without which growth is not possible. And that probably is it, this. I think it is something like that. Thanks.
Jurga: I hear speaking about acceptance, Gediminas, and from Ingrida I heard about taking care, from Ernesta too. And within me these two words are probably what defines self-love. Acceptance and care. At some point when I was trying to resolve a dilemma of relationships with the loved ones, I pondered why it is so easy for me to support, accept without judgement, without writing marks those people that are a bit further from my closest circle. Meaning my friends, colleagues, even clients that I had in a different practice. And why do I make such rigid judgements, have opinions about the ones who are closest to me and their actions. Why is it so difficult to hear out somebody’s feelings, their choices when they are let’s say my family members. And then I understood, after long soul searching, what the answer to this question is. That self-identification happens, that I identify with my loved ones. And then them and myself become kind of a single unit somewhere in me, in my head. And then I start behaving with them the way I behave with myself. So my inner critic starts criticizing them as well. So there appears judgment, irritation, dissatisfaction appears. And I do not identify with people who are further, whom I see less frequently or let’s say they do not have a direct impact on my life. And from realizing that, I came to a conclusion that until I create a loving connection with self, an accepting and caring relation with self, I will not be able to offer that to my loved ones. I can continue trying, I can keep making myself better but there will be this pressure from inside, that emotion will appear that “it has to be in this particular way, and it cannot be like this, and how could one have behaved like that!” And until I won't accept that I am this way, that I have these shadow parts of myself that maybe I do not like or maybe that someone did not like when I was a child, and I then decided that they have no right to be, that impulse will not disappear. An well, then I realized that I need to fall in love with myself in order to offer a full-fledged love to others. And I like this allegory, two allegories. One of them is about the heart. So when we breathe, the oxygen enters the lungs and in order to spread the oxygen throughout the whole of the body, the heart has to first of all take the oxygen into itself, the heart needs to fill itself with oxygen in order to pump it to the body. And same in life, in order to be caring, kind, empathic to others, I have to be kind and caring to myself, to charge, to fill that inner cup in order to share from it afterwards. And the second allegory is - how do we fall in love with another? We see them. We really look at them. We ask them all kinds of questions, we want to know everything that is possible about them, about their lives, maybe even their secret thoughts. And when that process of getting acquainted happens, that process of falling in love happens at the same time. This tells me that in order to really love myself, I need to see the whole of myself. I have to see all parts of me, get acquainted with different corners of my personality. Some of them are very familiar, I know them for a long time and others are new - not because they are young but because they were forgotten, suppressed, locked away and always wanted to come out through some symptoms, some unexpected emotional outbursts in seemingly very innocent situations. So self-love first requires, the way I sense it, this getting acquainted, so that we really get to see, recognize and take care of all of our parts.
And the question that I heard Ingrida mentioning, which I want to ask all of you: how do you take care of yourself? I heard about covering yourself with a blanket, I heard about caressing yourself, I heard about listening and accepting some thoughts and feelings the way they are. Maybe you could share some practices or habits, routines that you use for taking care of yourself. Ingrida?
Ingrida: Yes, these things happen, can you hear me? Super. In my life the most important practice is the one I do everyday. Probably it is the closest action where I feel like taking care of myself. I have discovered it myself and I think that every person is a practitioner. I feel those practices need to come into our lives at some point. So maybe I just have this invitation to notice, maybe through observation - notice what nourishes us and having noticed that maybe bit by bit start to use that and make it into a practice. So that is it. Ernesta, maybe you have some thoughts?
Ernesta: Since I started by saying that there is me and there are those separate pieces that make that Me, I experience myself as that mental part. And for that mental part I offer my attention through books, through seminars. I take care of my emotional part, the world of my feelings probably more in therapeutic spaces, where I can meet and feel safe with whatever comes: whether it is euphoria or disappointment. Or when rage comes or some uncontained joy or gratitude towards all of those states... For that I am looking for therapeutic spaces in order to be able to stay with those feelings. So that I can gain skills there and transfer them to real life, when some kind of feeling comes, whatever happens. After all kinds of searching, what feels most like I am taking care of myself is, when something is arising within me, to come back to breathing and even a bit artificially put my focus only on breathing. And maybe it helps to calm down. So probably taking care of emotional and sensing parts happens through breathing. My physical body is taken care of again through touch, when I am being caressed or I caress or something else - like going into cold water. Going into hot water. Through sports that can be horse riding, through sports that can be sliding on a slay from a hill and then taking the slay back up on the hill. And there is that part that I also experience as my self. Something that is inside of me, that is outside of me, something that does not fit into the category of emotions, but rather emotions fit into it. Something that doesn’t fit into the mental side of me but rather my mental side fits into it. For that part I also look for peers who develop the state of presence in me, when I allow myself to experience what I am. And still, I come to a conclusion that I am looking for space, where I can feel the commonness. So that I can transfer the skills I acquired in that space into life. So that is probably how it is. Care is allowing to experience everything that comes into a safe space, so that I can allow that to be experienced and be able to stay with that when it comes up unexpectedly in my life. That is how it is.
Jurga: Gediminas, would you have something to share?
Gediminas: Yes, I would. I think that there are several directions that are about taking care of myself. One of them would be everyday rituals that nourish me, like I believe Ingrida had mentioned. Things that could be called resources, that's another word that I like. Yes, probably the most important thing for me, for example, is a daily meditation practice. That I just do, where I allow voices from my body to arise and I give space for them to speak out, to criticize what needs to be criticized, where there is no space for that in a usual life. So that specific space is very important for me. Realizing, where I am going and what is going on with me, a deeper experience, for example like under water, deeper than just the surface. And then other small rituals like having a cup of coffee in the morning. Or going for walks that give some kind of feeling of framing life, some kind of predictability. And then connections with people, that also allow me to take care of some particular needs, need of communication, need of reflection. And another important thing that is most loosely defined is a search for an alive connection with life. For me it is simply a journey, where I keep searching and keep finding, and where my body leads to, where my feeling is leading me, that shows me - sometimes in a way that can hardly be heard - what is it that I need now, sometimes even without realizing what exactly that is. For me it is somehow like that, some kind of care in a less defined, broader meaning. Just seeking to fulfill my life and unfold it. Jurga, maybe you would like to share now?
Jurga: On top of what has already been said, I would also like to share a practice with people who have a strong Inner Critic. I myself am one of those people. And we can simply try to write down sentences that our Inner Critic uses when talking to us, when he doesn’t like something. And after we write those sentences down, we could find a photograph of ourselves as children. Some photo of ourselves when we were little where we really like ourselves. And just look at that child. And think whether we are ready to read all those sentences to that child. This practice has awoken a huge empathy towards self within me personally, when I realised that I am still this little, cute girl. I just grew up but the heart that is beating in my chest is the same heart of that little four year old girl. One can even attach this childhood photo on the fridge or another well seen place and in those moments when we feel very upset with ourselves we can again look at that small lovely face, who unconditionally loved everyone around and themselves. So an invitation would be - when we cannot find a way to love ourselves, to come back to that place and time with all our body, with all our essence, when self-love was not even a question. We surely did not ask ourselves, how do I love myself, we just did it. Thanks everyone for today and to finish we maybe can share one sentence or word each.
Ernesta: It can be simple to love.
Ingrida: Maybe joy, some kind of childlike joy.
Gediminas: I really want to say in addition to what Jurga said, from your first sharing. That self-love is not narcissism. It definitely is not.
Jurga: And what resounds in me at this moment - love is love. Thank you for talking, for sharing. Thanks to everyone who was watching and listening to us. You can find us on our website embodiedpractice.lt. Also on our Facebook page under the same name and our Facebook group KŪNAS KALBA (The Body Speaks). We also have Spotify and Youtube channels under the name KŪNAS KALBA (The Body Speaks). I hope to see you there next month with a new topic. Thanks to the colleagues, thanks everyone. Let’s love.
Gediminas: See you.
Ernesta: See you.
Jurga: See you.
Ingrida, Gediminas, Jurga and Ernesta - practitioners of Integrative Bodywork and Movement practice in EMBODIED PRACTICE. Their work is aimed at people who are looking for ways to discover and experience themselves anew and to deepen an authentic relation with self and the world. It also benefits those willing to find grounding, exploring possibilities for self-care, listening to their true needs and remember what it means to be comfortable in one‘s own skin.