"Love. Love is what you are. Love is what you came from, and Love is what you return to. Love is all there is, and all that is."
One of the hardest practices for me in my daily practice is to hold myself in love. To sit with myself compassionately can present huge challenges. Resistance rises up and only through the hard won efforts of daily practice am I able to sit through the feelings that I want to run away as fast as possible rather than face loving compassion. The ego plays all kinds of tricks to keep me in a place of distraction. Sometimes I end up repeating exercises like fourfold breathing over and over again to still my anxious mind...and the greatest anxiety producing activity is to set the intention of resting in the arms of Love.
The quote above came from one of my Guides. Though they never coddle me, neither do they scold or scorn me. I am expected to stand as an equal in the relationship, and active partner in my own destiny. They always approach with love and compassion for me and I find that accepting that love is far more challenging than if they were to approach with disdain or reproach. I have worked hard to hold myself in love, and I hate having to admit that there are still seeds of self-loathing that I have yet to uncover.
I had an interesting conversation over the weekend related to this internal damage. When someone else points out a mistake I have made, and I genuinely know it was a mistake, it's reasonably easy for me to just own it and say, "Yep, I made a mistake," and get on with taking whatever action is appropriate. However, when I am calling myself on a mistake, I feel terrible. I treat myself horribly, holding myself to an impossible standard. When I discovered over the weekend that another friend has the same response to similar situations, I found a little comfort in my humanity. Oh, look, I'm not alone in this reaction! What a relief, truly! And then it was a little easier to open a bigger space for myself, to hold myself a little more compassionately.
Unconditional Love is something that requires practice. In this lifetime I did not come from an experience of unconditional Love, so it is a truly a learned experience for me. If I cannot find space to love myself unconditionally, I can't hold others in that space. Learning to first expand myself and let my experience flow over and out to others only after the energy has filled me is the only way I can truly support the work I do, to walk my talk. And yet, it still feels like a selfish act. I still have the internal dialogue that says I should do for others first, even though I have the first hand experience that by first filling me, taking the time for self-care, I bring so much more of myself to the table, I have so much more to offer other relationships, that I can be so much more fully present. Being present is, after all, the real point here.
And so I say to all of us, "Love. Love is what you are. Love is what you came from, and Love is what you return to. Love is all there is, and all that is."