What does loving yourself mean? How do you begin to love yourself unconditionally?

If you have ever been to a group meditation, a spiritual event or any form of mindful workshop, you will no doubt have heard people saying that changes in our lives start happening after you begin loving yourself unconditionally. By doing so, you open yourself to a whole new world of possibilities, and this will affect people around you too.

This has nothing to do with being self-centered, vain or egotistical. It’s about accepting yourself just the way you are and loving all of your “faults”, which will in turn make you happier, more confident and able to give your love more easily to others too. For many of us, this seems like a very weird and unconventional thing to do, but trust me on this, it will change your life for the better! It’s wonderful to love and care for other people, but it’s important to do so from a space of harmony and love towards yourself, first and foremost.

But…how do you begin loving yourself?

Anya Andreeva from Live Love Raw (Аня Андреева, сыроедение) Bali

There is no one answer and it will be different for all, but I have compiled a list of things that may resonate with some of you. By following some of these tips, I hope you will find it in you to open your mind and allow the love to flow through you.

We, as human beings, have several “bodies”. The main ones are our physical body, our mental body, our emotional body and our spiritual body. In order to love yourself completely, you should try to address all 4 of them, otherwise there won’t be a true balance.

Also remember, that doing these exercises consistently every day is very important. It’s no good following one point once a week, this is a massively important exercise and it will benefit everyone around you, so you need to dedicate some time every day for it.

How to love your physical body

Tell your body that you love it, every day

Anya Andreeva meditating breathing forest, yoga, spirituality

This is one of the most important exercises you can do for yourself, and it is something I have learnt from Jasmuheen and I practice it every day.

When you wake up in the morning, rub your hands together to get the energy flowing and concentrate it in the palms of your hands. Now run your hands over every part of your body and tell it that you love it. Your organs and cells work 24/7 to keep you alive and healthy and they deserve your attention, so let them know: “I love you, I love you, I love you!”

I can’t explain how it makes a difference, but even if I don’t do anything else, this is the exercise that changes my day for the better!

What is your fuel?

Courgette noodles with raw vegan tomato and basil sauce (zoodles, zucchini pasta)

What you put into your car will determine how it will run, and the same goes for you. If you truly want to love yourself and your body, you should make wiser choices when it comes to food. Of course, I would always recommend incorporating as much organic, seasonal and local raw food into your life as possible, but even going vegetarian will do amazing things for your body and the environment.

I’m not denying that changing one’s diet can be a difficult thing, I have previously written about how to handle cravings and deal with slip ups, and a little will power is required to do the best for your body, but in the end, it’s so worth it! It is your temple – you wouldn’t throw rubbish at a temple, would you?

I have noticed a significant change in my health since I started eating raw food, from an increase in energy and better sleep to lack of cold’s and improved digestion. I wish that you would experience this too, why not start today by introducing some raw food into your life – read my tips here.

Get a manicure and go have a massage

Banana leaf bird in ginger tea. Flower bath in Cantika spa in Bali. Live Love Raw

Yes, I’m being serious – go to a SPA!! You are not loving your body if you just overwork it all the time and never give it anything in return. Your body loves being clean and pampered, so get a nice haircut once in a while, buy a dry brush or a natural sponge and give yourself the royal treatment you deserve!

If you don’t have the opportunity to do a fancy treatment, just washing your hair, taking a bath or giving yourself a manicure will do the trick. On a side note, your body deserves to be treated right, so I would recommend getting rid of all the chemicals in your beauty bag, for example, read my recipe for a natural home-made shampoo.

Wearing nice clothes doesn’t make you materialistic

Anya Andreeva in white dress in Tanah Lot, Bali, Live Love Raw

I don’t know how some of these things don’t get mentioned in mindful articles, wearing nice clothes gets discarded as materialistic and “non-spiritual” but what you wear is how you see yourself!! If you wear baggy, dirty clothes, what does that say about you? To me it just says that you’re not loving your body enough to dress it nicely.

So start seeing yourself as the Goddess/God that you are! That doesn’t mean you have to shop at expensive brands or hoarding a huge amount of stuff, but find way’s of dressing yourself in a way that best describes who you are.

On that note, also get yourself nice things for your body to enjoy, like a new pillow, or even just ironing your bed sheets will make you squeal in delight as you jump into your bed after a nice warm shower! Doesn’t your body deserve it?

Let’s get moving

Anya Andreeva from Live Love Raw, doing yoga in a forest, Spain

Exercise…omg I said the scary word! Don’t run away just yet, I’m not asking you to run the marathon! Just find some time during the week for a little bit of yoga, or a nice long walk through the park or a bit of salsa with your friends – doesn’t sound that scary, does it?

Your body needs some form of exercise to stay flexible and in good working condition and you owe it to yourself to move it once in a while. Even if it’s just a couple of twists in bed just before going to sleep.

How to love your mental and emotional bodies

Reduce your stress levels

Anya Andreeva flying in Peru, Machu Picchu

I’m sure you knew I would say this, but it’s such a vital point! Why do people get stressed? Originally it was a form of protection, our bodies released hormones to help defend us against a lion attack. It was only supposed to be temporary as prolonged release of stress hormones can have very severe side effects, from high blood pressure and heart attacks to growth inhibition and changes to mental health.

We all know that stress is bad, but how do we stop? Little by little. Start with making a rule of turning off your phone at 21:00 or not checking emails on weekends. Stop staying in late at work and going to bed past midnight. These are all factors that contribute to your stress levels. But you should also do things that increase your happiness levels – see the next point.

Have fun, be silly, laugh and travel

yoga for kids teacher training, Anya Andreeva playing in mud at green school, bali

Who’s life are you living? Are you living your life according to what your parents/boss/partner want you to be or are you the master of your decisions?

Just be happy – it’s that simple! Do things that make you smile, no matter how silly they are (yes that’s me on top of a mud pyramid in the photo). Travel as much as you can, explore the world, stop saving for a rainy day and enjoy your life now! Put down your do-to list and go to the cinema, play on your guitar, buy that Frozen calendar that you know you want or call that special someone and ask them out on a date!

We are on this Earth to experience life as a human being, but being human does not mean you should wake up at 7, go to work from 9-6, have a rushed unhealthy lunch at your desk, then travel for 1 hour to get home, only to finally reach your house at 7-8pm, too tired to make yourself anything decent for dinner and plonk yourself on the couch and mindlessly watch TV for the few hours that you have left of the day. No, no, no! That is not what it means to be human, that’s just barely surviving, let alone existing to your full potential!

My first proper job was an office 9-6, but thankfully I am very much in touch with my Higher Self and when I got sick from just being at work, I knew that things had to change. I quit my job and moved to Bali, with no plan and no money, knowing that I would be taken care of if I had enough trust in the Universe. Guess what, now I have my own business and am happier than ever 🙂

Make sure to get enough rest and sleep

My cat Milo yawning, sleepy, cute

Ancient scriptures tell us that the best time to sleep are from 3 hours before midnight, to 3 hours after midnight, i.e. from 21:00-03:00. Of course, that may seem impossible for many of us to achieve, but you could at least start by going to bed before 23:00 for a change. Not only will you see an improvement in your physical health, but also your mental health, as you will be more alert and less grumpy.

In the photo above is my adorable cat Milo – my inspiration for napping at any time of the day 😉

Stop saying bad things about yourself & feeling guilty

worrying is like praying for what you dont want

This is a huge no-no! Your homework for today (or this week/month/year) – try to notice every time you think or say something bad about your appearance, character or behaviour, and change that thought around.

For example, you ate something you “shouldn’t have” and are now having a go at yourself, thinking that you’re fat and have little will power. Stop right there, and think instead that ok, you had that piece of cake, but you enjoyed it and it made you happy. You are beautiful and you will try better next time, maybe follow some tips on how to give up sugar and eat healthy for the rest of the day/week. There’s no point in eating something and feeling guilty about it, your body won’t understand why you’re stressing and that may cause indigestion.

If you have something physical that you would like to change, maybe you have a mole on your face or smelly feet, ask yourself:

1) Can I do something about it? If you can, then do it

2) If I can’t, then stop worrying about it!

Others will accept you as you are, and more often than not, people don’t look at you as intensely as you might think. I often come across people who see themselves in a video or a photo and say “omg, delete that photo, I have an awful nose/chin/belly” and I’ve never paid attention to their nose before…but the moment they say it, that’s when you start to pay attention – so DON’T say anything 🙂 Why draw attention to something you don’t like, instead, draw attention to something that you DO like.

Plus, the moment you say something, the Universe believes it to be true, so you should always speak of yourself in the best tone and never compare yourselves to others who you believe are “better”. In time you will notice that you have started to feel different, I guarantee it!

How to love your spiritual body

Mirror work

pretty woman beauty mirror

You can do an exercise similar to the first one listed in this article, but using a mirror, that way you are focusing on yourself as a whole. My mum told me to do that when I was a teenager and had a bad acne problem. I laughed at her but did it anyway. After a few tries, it stopped sounding silly and did wonders for my confidence and after a while, my acne started disappearing!

Of course it doesn’t have to be in front of a mirror, simply tell yourself things that you love about yourself. They don’t have to be true, but they can be things you want to be true. Make sure to say things in the present tense, because if you say it in the future tense, the Universe will keep it…in the future, as what you ask for, you shall get.

Here are some examples: “I love you, You are wonderful, You are gorgeous, You have perfect and healthy skin, You are loved and loving, You are smart, You are a fantastic musician, You have strong willpower, You are healthy, You are successful…” – I’m using “you” as the pronoun because you are talking to a mirror and most people feel it to be more comfortable, however I would recommend eventually switching to saying “I am” as that is the most powerful way to begin a phrase.

Matt Kahn really goes into detail about why it feels weird to say positive things about yourselves and how to overcome it in this great video below, especially 20 minutes in, I’d highly recommend listening to it!

Meditate and do visualisation work

Anya Andreeva from Live Love Raw meditating in a forest, spirituality, yoga

Leaving one of the most important things till last and this is something that is best done daily and for a prolonged period of time. It doesn’t have to be any specific kind of meditation and if you’re just starting out, have a look at my beginners guide to meditation for some tips. Just closing your eyes for a few minutes before you go to bed, relaxing and saying something positive about yourself will be a great start!

Visualisation is massively effective in any aspect of our lives, and it basically consists of you visualising in your mind, what you want to achieve or look like. This is a huge subject and not one I can elaborate on in a short paragraph, but if you’d like to find out more, I’d highly recommend you check out Catherine Shainberg’s work on imagery and dreams, she does Skype consultations if you’re not in the same country and her guided meditations have helped many people around the world achieve their goals, release past trauma and let go of fear.

Conclusion

I hope you have found this list useful, if you have other tips, please share them with us in the comments below. Personally I have found all of these things to be highly beneficial, and I would recommend you try at least one from each category, if you can. Sending you all lots of love 🙂

About the Author:

Anya is a raw food chef, writer and an artisan chocolatier. Get her book with healthy vegan recipes here. Anya is also a relationship and tantric coach, helping individuals and couples worldwide (in-person or through video chat). She writes articles covering a broad range of themes, such as: love and tantra, natural health and spirituality and nutrition, as well as raw food recipes recipes! Anya is also passionate about travel and you can find her travel articles here.

One Comment

  1. Bernard Johannes Sleijster July 7, 2017 at 2:50 pm - Reply

    Very well-written article, gave me a lot to think about.
    ~ Bernard Sleijster

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