The more I practice yoga, and the more I go through life, the more I realise that the most important thing we need to sort out to be able to show up in the world as our authentic selves, is to learn to love ourselves.
And, I believe, it’s also the hardest skill we’ll have to learn.
Now, you’re probably thinking that I’ve got it all mixed up; that the real problem of this world is that people are too egoistic, which is commonly understood as excessively self-loving, too self-absorbed, and completely oblivious to other people’s needs.
Yes, we are too egoistic and perhaps too self-absorbed, but I think we’ve got the meaning of the word ‘egoism’ wrong.
In yoga, to live and love egoistically means living and loving through the prism of external comparisons and attributes, which by virtue will make us feel small, insignificant, worthless.
Our ego-self, defined by all that is external and changeable, looks at the world through constricted lenses, identifying only with the body, mind, and feelings.
And there’s always going to be someone more beautiful than you, more successful, smarter — whatever it is that you ascribe your self-love to.
Sadly, most of us have been taught to exist and value ourselves through these kind of external comparisons and attributes.
And that, I believe, makes us egoistic. Instead of looking at a beautiful, kind person without any judgment and with recognition they deserve, we’ll look at them as a threat to our own beauty and kindness. And so we not only start hating ourselves, but we also cannot truly celebrate the other, either.
So what is self-love?
Though we commonly equate egoism with excessive self-love, in yoga, self-love is the polar opposite of ego-ism. It’s an ego-less love.
Self-love enables us to connect with our true self, which recognises and cherishes our essence irrespective of its temporary physical attributes. Your looks will pass, your success may vanish (though I cincerely hope it won’t), your brain will inevitably deteriorate as well. The nature of the physical world…