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5 Steps on Your Journey to Self Love

I write this to you during a thunderstorm in LA. It wasn’t too long ago that I felt the clouds of sadness shower over the spring in my step. I found myself crying almost every day wondering when the light would come in. I am glad to say that I am on the other side of that storm and so grateful for the sun each and every day. While we may not always know it's there, the sun is always shining above the clouds, waiting to peek through, once the cleansing is complete. Sometimes mother nature has a way of letting us know that a little rain may be just what we need to step into love and gratitude.

Several years ago, I started my journey of self-love. I had just gone through a massive breakup that sent my world shattering to pieces. I felt lost, alone and isolated myself as a result of my heartbreak. I decided to take care of myself that year. Being a new full-time yoga teacher, I had quite a few physical symptoms show up as a result of being active and in a sweaty studio all day. My body was breaking down, I was depressed and most of all, I blamed myself for all of it. I knew that I was co-creating this reality due to the fact that I had some unattended trauma that still needed to be healed. I felt as though I needed a partner to fulfill my needs and take care of me. Little did I know then, that I needed to be my own hero. So, I started by working with an energy healer. This woman talked to me over the phone about my physical symptoms, recommended I go to a naturopath, which I did, and started to work on my emotional and energetic body.

What I realized was that I was blaming the other without taking responsibility for my role in the relationship. My anger stemmed from past hurt I had experienced as a kid and once I started to dive into those memories, I was able to forgive and heal them. I was able to meet my younger self and take care of her, letting her know that everything would be okay and that I would be her guardian for now. We forget that we all have this inner child within us. The one that wants to be loved, adored and cared for.

When we take care of ourselves and our needs are being met, we feel safe and secure, two foundational components to stepping into trust and letting your heart lead the way. Strong roots lead to stable structures, both within and outside, in our personal relationships.

So how did I start my journey with self-love? Through these five steps:

1. Use a mantra

You can use the mantra for the heart chakra, YAM, or create your own phrase, such as, "I am love or the source of love is within me." When I first started using these affirmations or statements, I looked at myself in the mirror, full eye contact, and repeated the mantra or phrase three times. I did this multiple times throughout the day until it started to sink into my psyche and I started to depend on it less. When we do this we are reprogramming the brain to remember the source of love is within you, rather than looking to outside sources for love or validation.

2. Start with abhyanga

This ancient ayurvedic technique is so simple and has numerous benefits that include increasing circulation in the body, balancing out the energy or chi, helping to heal stretch marks, decreases the effects of aging, hydrates the skin, and can help with getting a better night's sleep. It’s a super simple practice you can read more about here. You basically will choose an oil that compliments your dosha, or use coconut which is tri-doshic, massage it all over your body from head to toe and wash it all off in the shower. This practice helped me because at the beginning of my journey I developed what is known as tinea versicolor, a discoloration of the skin due to a skin fungus that grows from being in sweaty environments. Gross! It really freaked me out and I had to wash all of my clothes in all kinds of chemicals before switching to coconut oil and tea tree oil which I applied regularly onto my skin. It really helped it to heal naturally and I am forever thankful to my energy healer who gave me this tip!

3. Nourish your body

Putting good fuel into your body is #1 in terms of long term health and sustained self-love. When we put quality nutrients into our body, we are telling ourselves that we care about our health and wellbeing. When we care about our health and wellbeing, everything operates optimally and we eliminate regularly. Gut health is becoming so popular right now because people are noticing that having an unhealthy gut leads to brain fog and fatigue. So, instead of pounding that pint of ice cream, start to find new ways to make healthy food taste delicious by switching to dates and honey. Plus sugar suppresses your immune system, and you don’t need that right now!

4. Take time for you

Taking a time out is my go-to right now as a mom. I have an 18-month-old daughter who I love and adore more than anything else in the world but there are times when mama needs to fill up her tanks. I know, now, that when I do that I am a better mother and partner to my husband. I am able to give from a full cup, rather from one that feels empty and exhausted. So, just 20-45 minutes on my mat to connect to my body and breath, is all I need to press the reset button. This might be going for a run, walk out in nature, or spending some quality time with friends.

5. Lastly, say no.

This one, I will admit is the hardest for me. I love to say yes because I love being of service and helping others. But, sometimes you have to say no in order to honor yourself, your boundaries, your abilities and your commitment to self-love. If it helps, reframe it in your mind that you are saying yes to you. You are saying yes to your family, your business, your personal wellbeing, your books you have been dying to dive into, your peace of mind, etc. When we say yes to the things that dim our light we betray ourselves and a little piece of us (that inner child once again) starts to cry and feel hurt. This is how we develop resentments. We hold certain expectations with the “sacrifice” of saying yes and when those expectations are not met, we hold the other accountable, when it is us who needed to honor ourselves first in order not to have this crisis happen (sometimes over and over again). It’s a hard one. I still work on this every day because it’s a practice. There will be some days you feel on top of the world and can give a lot and others when you need to step away and take a nap (thinking about that right now!) It’s not selfish, it is self-care. What is selfish is saying yes and not showing up as the best version of you possible, stealing the other persons time to be with someone who doesn’t want to be there. Do it for them. Do it for you.

Those are my tips! Once you have practiced these self-love/care tips then you will have plenty to give!

It feels so good to share what you know with those around you. It brings people together, creates community, and helps others along their journey. I truly hope this article helped you in some way. If you are wondering what happened in my story, a few years later (yes I would say it took about 2 years for this all to sink in) I met my husband, we started a family and now live very happily together in Los Angeles. Miracles do come true but they start with taking care of you.

You are worth it.

Lots of love, Ali

Ali Owens has so many amazing wakeups on the app, including Selfless Selfcare, a wakeup reminding you to "Say YES to you!" She also has a 7-part chakra series, a gratitude-inspiring wakeup called "Three Tokens of Gratitude" and several meditations for mamas.

Get to know Ali better on Instagram and www.aliomyoga.com.