Our lives are interwoven with people, patterns, and choices. When all of these converge, relationships are created. Most of us spend a lot of our time being in relationship--with partners, friends, children, family, colleagues, etc.. What we don't fully realize is the impact that the relationship we have with ourselves is the one that creates and impacts all other relationships in our lives.
When we decide to take the time to work on the relationship we have with ourselves, we are getting conscious about how we treat ourselves, how we prioritize our wants and needs, how much we value ourselves, and how we communicate with ourselves. All of these have major effects on how we practice these and engage with others.
If we want to be more conscious about how we are relating to ourselves and to others, we have to make the time to practice giving ourselves the space to be heard and felt. We can no longer remain a great mystery to ourselves.
Practicing being conscious with ourselves will take time and effort, just like any other relationship worth having requires our time and effort. And it also requires honesty and compassion.
When we decide to show up fully for ourselves and step towards our selves, patterns, choices and other people with curiosity and non judgement, we are making space for subconscious habits and tendencies to make their way into a light filled arena. One that is full of understanding, compassion, and the loving kindness of acceptance.
It is our personal journey into conscious relationship. It doesn't need the container of partnership in order to be undertaken. It just needs willingness and an open heart. Give these gifts to yourself. You may also wish to start with some of the practices outlined below.
Because we have to start somewhere.
Take what resonates and leave the rest, for now.
Practices That Tune You in to Your Self:
Quality Alone Time -- Hanging out with ourselves, by ourselves. This is an unplugged time where we are simply showing up for things we like, and are doing it solo. Maybe its reading a book, maybe its cooking a meal, taking a bath, journaling, making art, doing whatever feeds our connection to our inner light. This time is not luxury, it is necessary.
Sitting in Silence-- In an age where we can access pretty much anything at any time, silence has become scarce for many of us. It can also be scary to sit with. But, if you want to hear yourself and feel yourself, learn to embrace it. We wouldn't play music, or have the tv on, if we were going to have a heart to heart with a friend or partner, so why would we do it when we are practicing being in a heart space with ourselves? Giving ourselves the time in silence is a powerful practice. If it seems like a lot at first, use a guided meditation or some nature sounds, and set a reasonable amount of time to do it. Journal about how it goes afterward. You will make progress, and it will feel great.
Self-Love Dates-- Time to take yourself out and show up fully for you! Many people find solo dining or going to an event alone totally intimidating and uncomfortable. That is ok. But, in order to truly establish that deep level of comfort and acceptance with ourselves, we have to be willing to be our own date sometimes, intentionally. A few days after my break up, I took myself out to dinner and then to a north side neighborhood for a music show that I wanted to see. I realized that, if I didn't show up for myself, nobody was going to do that for me. It was a little intimidating, and I journaled about my solo dining experience as it unfolded. But once I reached the music venue, I knew for sure I was right where I was meant to be. And it was a beautiful night! I got to share something special with myself, and it lit my heart up to value myself in such a way that I could take myself places without questioning if I would be able to handle being there by myself. I absolutely could handle it, and so can you. Even if you are in relationship, make the time to date yourself. You will show up better in relationship for it.
Love Letter to You-- Take some time to write yourself a letter that expresses love and gratitude for the person you are. You have come such a long way on your journey, and when taking the time to reflect on it, chances are there will be a lot of gratitude there. This letter can be addressed to your past self, offering forgiveness, compassion and understanding for mistakes and decisions made when you didn't know what you know now. It can be addressed to the future you, sending love and encouragement and openness to where this path may lead. Be kind in your words, this is a love letter. Write it like you would write something to someone you love deeply. Show that deep love to yourself. You deserve it. When you are done, you can put it somewhere to re-read when you are having a difficult time, or you can seal it and open it sometime in the future.
Dance, Sing, Tell a Story-- This can be done alone, or with friends. Make it a judgement free zone and get into it! Set yourself up for optimal comfort by doing a 'blind disco' where everyone has their eyes closed and just moves to the music. Sing in the shower, sing while getting ready in the morning or at night. Give yourself permission to use your own voice, no matter what it sounds like. Get curious about what these practices open up for you. Do them more than once. Tell yourself a story, tell your partner a story, tell your kids a story.. Get creative.
Welcome Your Inner Child-- That little version of you that still lives inside all of us. See them and welcome them to be held by you. Speak lovingly to them. If you have kids, speak to your child self like you would speak to your own children. Allow your inner child to show you where it hurts, and be willing to acknowledge that pain and fear. The first time practicing this, it may bring up a lot of emotion, or a big release that makes you cry. That is ok. Many of us experienced trauma in our childhood that we still carry as adults. Loving that little person inside is a healing way to release some of these painful memories that have been stored in our bodies over the years.
Practice Yoga, Attend a Bodywork Session-- Yoga will absolutely connect you to yourself, and if you are new to the practice, or haven't practiced for awhile, go to classes, but do not bring expectation with you. Just allow yourself to be there and do the best you can. Focus on your breath and how it feels in your body. This is already a powerful connection to your self. Be gentle and patient with yourself. The poses will come in time, and just being there on the mat is already doing yoga. Booking a bodywork session, like massage, Reiki, Reflexology, or acupuncture, are all wonderful and passive ways to receive healing and connection to the body and our emotions. The best way to approach a session is with openness and allowing. You are there for you, and you are doing something loving and healing for your body. Going in with that mindset will amplify the results.
Begin or Continue a Journaling Practice-- There is no better way to understand ourselves and our lives than by getting really honest and writing out our thoughts and feelings, both positive and negative, happy and sad, all of them. When we journal, we are taking the time to check in with ourselves, saying to ourselves "I see you, I want to understand you, and I want to give you the opportunity to explore what is going on for you." That is the fundamental practice of holding space, which is what we are ultimately seeking to do for and with our partners in conscious relationship, too.
All of these practices are ones that allow us to show up for ourselves fully, to be curious about our experiences, and to hold space for all of who we are and who we wish to become. That is the basis for conscious relationship.
And practicing these with ourselves means that we are able to practice them with the significant others in our lives; friends, partners, family members, colleagues, strangers, whomever. These are gentle ways to get in to ourselves and our subconscious and bring it to our awareness.
These aren't practices to 'fix' ourselves or 'change' who we are. We are not broken, and we are already whole and complete within ourselves. These practices, and many others, allow us the understanding and the wisdom to recognize ourselves as whole and complete and begin to journey deeper into ourselves for a fuller understanding of who we are and why. And that will create change. But it will create change without expectation. And that is powerful.
Building conscious relationship always starts with us, and it ends with us, too. Because we are the person we are taking into our future, the person we will get into bed with every night, and the person we will always be spending the most time with. Learning to love all of that person, all of us, is what makes that relationship the deepest and most expansive of our lives. And it radiates out to all of the other relationships we have, as a reflection of how we feel about ourselves.
Choose you. Choose to spend time with someone wonderful, with someone who is so beautiful. Know you are worth it. Your heart is worth it, your body is worth it, your mind is worth it, your emotions are worth it, your energy is worth it. All of you is worthwhile. So take that conscious first step towards you, and be amazed at what you discover.