Have you ever had one of those rare ah-hah moments—the kind that crystallize your positive thinking and self-awareness so much that you have no choice but to fully submit to its purity and power?
I was fortunate today to have such a moment, one that brought me to tears. It felt as though a tsunami wave rose from my belly, pulled all the positive energy from every organ, vessel, and bone in my body, and rushed it straight towards my heart. The wave was so powerful it flooded beyond my heart and into my head, where it spilled from my eyes and rained upon my face. All this, while I lay prone on a mat at the tail end of a yoga class.
I had never attended formal yoga classes until a month ago. And recently, while attending a particular yoga teacher’s class, I realized just what I had been missing. A woman by the name of Deb leads the class on Fridays at our local town recreation center. She has a wonderful selection of soothing music to go along with yoga practice and has a true gift for delivering gentle guiding words that when combined with the music always resonates with me.
Today, her topic was love and kindness for oneself. It’s a topic I’ve needed to revisit frequently in my life. Deb began class by sharing the results of a study that sought to understand the effects of negative comments in a work environment. The study showed that FOR EVERY NEGATIVE COMMENT a supervisor makes to an employee it takes an average of FIVE POSITIVE COMMENTS from the same supervisor before the employee feels the positive benefit of the positive comments, before the employee feels the negative comment has finally been nullified.
Deb challenged us today to consider the effect of our negative comments TO ourselves ABOUT ourselves and how much positive affirmation we’d have to feed ourselves to simply break even, never mind having any forward-moving benefit to sustain us in a healthy, positive state of being. She challenged us to be kind to ourselves, to only speak positive words to ourselves, to always come from a place of love.
This is NOT the first time I’ve heard this advice. In fact, I’ve been aware of the concept of personal kindness and have been actively attempting to apply it to myself for at least seven years now. But today was the day that the words finally resonated, and Deb was the vessel through which the message came to me.
Put most simply, the tsunami wave that flooded me felt like a visceral wave of unconditional, unbounded love FROM me TO me.
Pressed to express it a different way, I might also describe it as unconditional, unbounded love FROM an all-powerful and ever-loving God TO me—a holy creature created in the image of God. And I might also describe it as unconditional, unbounded love FROM an ever-contracting and expanding universe TO me—a product of that universe and an integral piece of it too.
What I most envisioned in the moment, though, is that it was FROM the all-knowing, gentle, guiding me TO the fearful, vulnerable, small-child me. And that somewhere within the pulling and pushing of energy, all the negativity about myself from myself to myself dissipated into thin air, replaced by all the love my body and soul has always possessed. It was the most powerful and beautiful feeling I have ever experienced in my entire life.
To hallmark the event, my body offered—in equal measure—tears of deep sadness for how terribly I’ve treated myself for too many years, and tears of unbridled joy from feeling the breath-taking enormity of pure love.
I also had the oddest sensation of witnessing a conversation within myself, to myself.
A tearful, hurt-filled, taking-it-out-on-myself ME was sobbing while making amends with the small-child ME, saying, “I’m so sorry for beating you down, for diminishing your sense of worth, for denying you the love you’ve always desired and deserved.” I witnessed the small-child quietly nodding and accepting the apology, after which the hurt-filled me said, “I love you so much. I’ve always loved you. And I always will.” This is when the tears had their way with my body, engulfing me to a point of no return.
As I write this now, I’ve just stumbled upon another revelation. These words that I pulled from myself for myself—“I love you so much. I’ve always loved you. And I always will.”—they are the exact words I spoke to my ex-husband an hour before he passed away. Then, as now, they were words meant to heal. At the time, I thought the words were meant to heal him. But now I know those words were meant to heal me, too. Maybe now, a year-and-a-half after his death, my heart is finally ready to fully heal, finally ready to forgive myself for the difficult parts we play in the pain-filled moments that constitute divorce.
I feel healed today. Not just from releasing the self-inflicted pain of divorce, but also from releasing a long-standing self-loathing dating back to the early years of my youth.
I look in the mirror today and for the first time in my life, I see beautiful soulful eyes beaming love back at me—pupils dark, wide and deep, glistening as if dipped in sweet honey. They sparkle and smile at me, with perfect, cat-whisker wrinkles accenting their outermost edges. My whole face smiles with a soft glow—my lips, my cheeks, even my crinkly rabbit nose. I see in me the deep love I’m so blessed to see every day in my newly-wed husband’s eyes, the universal love I have seen in the eyes of a rare few people I have been blessed to meet in my lifetime, the love I always wished would find its way to residing in me, the love I imagine must live in us all.
I see it now and have taken a good hard look at this soulful me in the mirror and have written these words in an attempt to never forget this moment. Yes, I see it clearly now, and all it took was a quite unexpected moment when it rushed in to reveal itself at the end of a humble yoga class. Earlier today, at the end of yoga class, I tearfully hugged Deb and thanked her for being my guide on this particular morning. She led me to a most divine gift. I am beyond grateful.
So, in the spirit of paying it forward, I’d like to offer you, my friends, these reminders:
- Be kind to yourself, because each unkindness is not so easily undone.
- It is important that you strive to love yourself fully. If you cannot do that much for yourself, you will not be able to love others fully nor receive love fully from anybody else.
- And remember . . . on any ordinary day at any ordinary moment, you too can have your once-in-a-lifetime, if-you’re-lucky moment. All the soul work we do along the way that doesn’t always feel like it sticks is all part of preparing us to receive that once-in-a-lifetime, if-you’re-lucky gift when it comes. Keep moving forward in the direction of your soul-healing goals, endeavor to feel and be the love that you have imagined, and you will eventually meet with a success unexpected in common hours. (a quiet nod to Henry David Thoreau for the loose phrasing)