In her book Radical Acceptance, therapist and Buddhist meditation teacher Tara Brach writes about how we have become culturally conditioned to believe that there is something inherently wrong with us that keeps is from realizing inner completeness, wholeness, and healing. As we grow up, we are influenced by our family, community, and society as a whole to conform to what is thought to be a successful life. We often feel inadequate because we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and striving to be “successful” like them. This leads to feelings of self-deprecation or even self-hatred, feeling unworthy because we don’t measure up.
Radical self-love is about peeling away the layers of years of cultural conditioning to reveal the authentic self, who we truly are inside. Radical self-love is about accepting ourselves and knowing that we are perfect just the way we are. We are all unique individuals who cannot be compared with anyone else. We each have our own path in life that is different from anyone else’s.
Self-love is an aspect of a healthy heart chakra. When our heart is in balance, we can connect within to our sense of joy and self-compassion, and find inner peace. We can forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know or do in the past, knowing that we were doing the best we could with what we had.
Here's a meditation to strengthen the heart chakra.
Sit comfortably and relax. Find a point on your torso from which you connect down your body and roots to the heart of the central Earth crystal. Find a point on your torso from which you connect up your body to your higher self, a golden white light 24 inches above your crown. Expand that connection up into the heart of the central sun of the universe. You are now vertically connected. You are one with the universe.
Bring your attention now to your roots, which are firmly anchored deep in the Earth. Your roots are like hollow tubes that soak up the warm, loving, nurturing, red energy of the Earth mother. Bring that energy up through your roots, up through the soles of your feet and up through the base of your spine at your root chakra, your center for grounding and security. Feel that warm, healing, red energy flow upwards to your sacral chakra, just under your navel, filling it and nourishing it. The sacral chakra governs our relationships, sexuality, and creativity. Then move up to the solar plexus chakra, just under your sternum, or the middle of your ribcage. The solar plexus governs our self-identity.
Feel how the warm, loving energy of the Earth mother soothes and nurtures your solar plexus. Now bring the healing and nurturing red energy up to your heart chakra. Let your heart fill with this warm, loving energy.
Now switch your focus to a white light coming in from above your higher self, from the heart of the central sun. This pure white light is called pranha, and it is an electrical, masculine energy. It is cleansing and healing and flows down from the heart of the central sun through our higher self and into our crown chakra, our spiritual center. Now feel the pranic white light move to your third eye chakra, cleansing, purifying, and healing as it fills your mental and intuitive center. Feel how the electric white light flows down into your throat chakra, the center of self-expression. Sense the purification that fills your throat. Now sense the purifying, white, pranic light moving down to your heart chakra, your center for love, compassion, and forgiveness.
It is in your heart chakra where the two energies meet -- the warm, loving, nurturing, red energy of the Earth mother, and the cleansing, purifying, electric, white, light of prana, coming from the heart of the central sun. Feel the two energies blend inside your heart chakra. See how the red energy combines with the white energy, creating an amazing swirl of red and white. See how the colors blend more and more together, finally unifying and becoming one in a beautiful pink color. This is the color of love.
Now breathe into your heart and say to yourself, “I am”. Now breathe out and say, “I am love”. Breathe in “I am”, breathe out “I am love”. In “I am”, out “I am love”. “I am”, “I am love”. As you focus on breathing love, see your heart chakra expanding with each out breath as you say, “I am love.” Feel the heart love expand out of your chest and out your back. Sense how you become surrounded by your heart energy. Feel how your love expands to include people you know and care for. Keep expanding this love to include everything around you. Now expand that heart love energy to the whole planet. See the planet embraced in your arms and know that you are healing the world as you send love out from your heart. Now slowly bring your heart energy back into the room….all the way back to your body. See how that feels. Now, once again, expand the heart love energy outwards, and set the energy field to a size that is comfortable for you.
Gently relax and be at peace with yourself as you realize that you are the source of love in your life. Sit in that loving peacefulness for a few minutes.
When you are ready, bring your awareness back into the room.