My Self-Love Journey

The lessons I learnt from my “self-love” challenge

This is a story about a challenge that changed my life – I know, not cliche at all right?

The challenge started when Hannah and I decided to run our first Girls Weekenz workshop. We had no idea what to expect we just set the intention to: give it a go, have fun and hopefully help other girls. But then, yes, the unthinkable happened, the silly challenge changed my life. And here is why I think it could change yours too.

But before we skip forward, I need to take you back. Back to when it all started.

The challenge started with two girls eating koftas in bed, talking very openly about life, love and our fears. Talking about the things we want to do, the things that scare us and the things that stop us from achieving our dreams and we landed on the idea of doing a self-love workshop.

Oh yes, I have a business called Girls Weekenz and we run wellness retreat for girls in New Zealand. Mainly because we believe life to live the life of your dreams, you need to step out of your comfortable zone by trying new things, exploring the nature and connecting with yourself and others.

So, back to my story. The idea of running a workshop was overwhelming, felt near impossible and the topic, well… We had our doubts about how it would go down. But we decided to put all that aside, take Nike’s advice and – just do it.

On one hand, we thought, “this won’t work, don’t be silly, drop it”. But we both knew the topic was important and didn’t get the attention it deserved! We knew that most of us don’t say “I love you” to ourselves (seriously, when is the last time you said that?).  Not only that, we knew people often did the opposite, talking critically, and harshly to themselves.

We also knew that most of us are almost always waiting for someone else to love us. The reality is: we end up relying so heavily on other people for love, we neglect ourselves and our needs.

Fast forward, the workshop was a tremendous success. The most honest, amazing girls came, shared their journeys, were vulnerable and we all learnt from each other. We had big names sponsor us because they too thought self- love was an important topic. We also had a lot of fun in the process.

The self-love challenge…

To make sure the girls would take the ideas and tools into their busy lives, we asked them to set their own self-love challenge. To set lead by example, Hannah and I set ourselves a simple self-love challenge.

For 21 days we would do 21 little acts of self-love. I printed the challenge, stuck it to my wall and tried everyday to do the challenge and post it to the FB group.

The thing with a self-love challenge is if you slip up- (oh no I didn’t buy myself flowers today), you simply show yourself some more love the next day. It’s a win/win.

But what happened next, I did not expect. I noticed more and more, that everyday I not only did an activity on the chart, I was doing multiple!

I noticed that because of the challenge when I treated myself unkindly, I stopped and repeated: the mantra self-love, self-love, self-love. Then I asked myself: would I have said that to my best friend? The answer was almost always no. Then I would ask myself for the best advice, and I would do that.

So that’s what I did. I am doing. I want to be doing.

Lessons learnt

The lesson I learnt is both simple but I found it to be immensely profound:  I will always be there for myself. No matter what. I am my best friend. No matter how many amazing friends I have. I belong to myself and that means that I will always speak my truth. No matter what or when. I will always be kind to myself because I deserve kindness.

That means stopping when I am running too fast and need to take a breath. That means saying no to someone that I really want to hang-out with but I really need some alone time (I am an introvert-extrovert). That means having 8 hours sleep – even though I have so much work. Or just simply going to yoga on my lunch break (and not feeling guilty or bad about it).

This self-love journey has changed my life and how I do things. Coincidently, my work is going great, the business is going amazing, I am laughing more, and most importantly: I am content.

Self-love has allowed me to be content and happy with myself and where I am at. I am not grieving about my past. I am not letting my story define who I am. I am not feeling alone around people anymore (have you ever had that feeling?).

I’ve realised that: I am whole.

Because I have me. I love Maria and who she is. I trust her to follow her intuition and to always, hold my own hand and guide me through. Because as long as I know how to love myself, I know I will be alright.

I really hope you stop and reflect and pay attention to how you talk to the most important person if your life. I hope you give yourself all the love you deserve. Because I might not know you, but I know you matter. Your story matters and you have a huge impact to have on this universe.

So please, do yourself a favour: tell yourself how much you love you. Tell yourself how much of a beautiful human being you are, with all your flaws and imperfections. Tell yourself how perfect you are and that you are your best friend.

Because you matter. I matter. We matter.

If you want to know more about the self-love challenge and our workshops please click here

If you want to share your self-love story, please contact me on dudaselva@gmail.com

I wrote this post originally for Girls Weekenz Wellbeing Blog

Sending lots and lots of love,

Maria

PS: I love you

Hi babe,

Do you know something? I love you. I love your eyes and your beautiful smile. I love your body and the way you move. I love how your brain thinks and how fascinating you are. Yes, babe, you are fascinating.

You are unique and you are so special. You are my best friend and my dearest love. I am so proud of you. Look how far you’ve come! Cheers to you! You are amazing. You amaze me.

xoxo

Maria 2016.

So, I just shared with you the most beautiful letter I received. And for this post, I am sharing with you why this letter is so important.

To give you some context, the other day I was doing some cleaning and uncluttering my stuff – apparently, it is good for ya – and I came across an envelope with my name on it. I opened and there it was this letter.

I gotta tell you. I felt in love with Maria. And I felt so loved, I felt so special. I was so happy to read how much I appreciated myself.

The question is: why did I decide to share this letter with you? Because it felt good loving myself. Because when you love yourself, you don’t care what other people think about you – and you are okay to be a total weirdo. Because this is the only way of loving someone else and expect nothing in return. What I want to tell you, is why you want to love yourself and how you can do it.

From what I heard, self-love is the pathway to your happiness. Self-love is the key to understanding others. True self-love, is the key to a good happy life.

Uh what? That sounds like mumbo jumbo stuff.

New flash, you gotta to love yourself, sisters and brothers. If you don’t love yourself, who else will? And the other thing, you must be grateful for the three you’s.

Uh what? More jumbo mumbo?

New flash, there are three you’s. There’s the past you, the present you, and the future you. And if you wanna love someone and have someone love you back, you gotta learn to love yourself, and the three you’s are the key.

You must be grateful to the past you for the positive things you’ve done. And do favours for the future you like you would for your best friend.

What do you mean Maria? Well, let me explain, it goes like this: you woke up today and you feel like tots crap. Stop a second. Think of a good decision you made yesterday. Did you go for a run instead of watching Netflix? That’s when you high five yourself and say: thanks younger me!

Now you need to think about doing a favour to your future self. Like you would’ve done to your best friend.

It goes like this: your alarm goes off but your bed is too comfy? “No! Screw you present self, I am getting up, I am going to go to that gym because I know it will feel good this afternoon.” All for the future you.

You see… That is how you create the cycle of doing something for someone else (future you) and thanking someone for the good in your life (past you). And that is key to building gratitude and productivity. Trust me, I read it in a book.

But hey, think with me: why wait for someone to tell you they love you when you can tell yourself? Why wait for someone to fall in love with you, when you can fall in love with yourself? Why expect someone else to tell you that you look good in those jeans, and you can tell yourself ‘damn hottie’.

I am not to sure what made me write that letter. But I gotta tell you something, I am writing more of those letters.

Because when you create this cycle of doing a favour for yourself and thanking yourself for the good things in life, you spread, over time, the gratitude to others who help you on your path.

And what I want for you to do right now, is to go home and write 3 things that you are grateful for your younger self and 3 things you will do for your future self.

Then, I want you to write the most beautiful letter to your future self and put somewhere away from your view, with the hope, that when you need the most you will find the letter.

Because I want you to remember that you have a unique contribution to the world, and you have a whole world to conquer.

As Rumi said, “If I love me, I love you. If you love you, you love me”.

PS: I love you.

Maria Selva

Namaste

This post I want to talk about how yoga changed my life.

I know it may sound like a random topic to choose, or perhaps it sounds fairly typical for a new age twenty-something-year-old chick to talk about the “joys of yoga”… But nonetheless, it really has changed my life, and I think it could change yours too.

You see, it was through yoga that I’ve learned that we can’t always change what’s happening to us, but we CAN change the way we respond.

We all experience pain, right? – whether that pain is a headache, or back pain, stress, heartbreak, loneliness. Whatever is your pain, I am sure we’ve all experienced something, right?”e

We all experienced pain – but it is HOW we choose to experience that pain that is up to us – or more specifically, how we choose to react to that pain.

Imagine if I told you that you could change your response to pain and in the process be free from suffering  Would you believe me?

In 1963 amidst a protest of the persecution of Buddhists, a Vietnamese monk sat down on a road in a traditional meditative lotus position, poured a can of petrol over his head, and as recited a homage to Buddha, he lit himself on fire and meditated until he burned to death.

For most of us, we scream when our coffee is too hot or when the shower is too cold. We react to pain far too easily.

But ladies and gentlemen, what that Vietnames monk did that day is proof that we have absolute control over our mind, over our pain tolerance, and over the way that react to almost all situations.  And yoga offers us an insight into how we can control it.

For me, this lesson all started on my body, on the yoga mat.

The Chair pose (Utkatasana) is where I am often presented with this challenge. With my feet firmly grounded, and my knees bent, it involves dropping the tailbone and sitting down into the air. Holding the core tight, rolling the shoulders back/down and extending the arms out to create a dynamic tension through my body. Within this isometric hold, I must breathe to find balance and strength. After a period of time, the thighs begin to burn, the arms feel heavy, the breath naturally wants to shorten, the mind gets agitated— this is painful guys!! All I want to do is to come out of this hold and shake it off – everytime.

I have practiced yoga five times a week for the last 24 months.  That means I’ve experienced this pose more than 520 times And I still feel the tension.  I still feel the fire. I still feel the burn.  Utkata means “wild,” “frightening,” “intense,” “furious,” “heavy”; and asana means “seat.” As I come into Utkatasana, I am literally sitting into a heavy, frightening, wild, intense fury—and honestly, it can feel that rough!

Now personally, having had to deal with  this pose has made me far more equipped to deal with other types of pain in my life too. There are so many uncomfortable aspects within our day to day actions, thoughts and relationships. Learning to choose to move through the pain of Utkatasana, and training my body, mind and spirit to sit more deeply into it, fully expanding my breathe and finding the heart centre of my practice, I take a step towards integration of my whole being.

Acknowledging the discomfort of life, yet staying there a moment longer to allow the feeling, acknowledging it as real, feeling its presence fully; holding it…and allowing the pain to change,  to pass… that is when I started to give mySelf the gift of complete presence and finding compassion.

Every day is a practice of life, whether we include yoga or not. Every day, we experience moments of discomfort.

Some days, the need to escape can be so intense and burning that it is difficult to think of anything else. But rather than leaving the discomfort, can you stay there a moment longer—a breath longer?

Can you find yourself fully present within the discomfort of being?

Can you sit deeply into the Utkatasana of life?

Yoga has taught me not to react but to embrace.  Not to judge, but to feel.

Yoga has taught me not to fight but surrender. Yoga has taught me the art of living.

As we say in yoga:

“The divine light in me honours the divine light in you.”

Namaste.

Maria

Photo: Bruce Simons

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Th%C3%ADch_Qu%E1%BA%A3ng_%C4%90%E1%BB%A9c

Who are you?

Now, if you could close your eyes. Take a deep breath and answer in your head this question: Who are you?

Have another breath and then open your eyes. How was your experience?

Sometimes it is difficult to answer this simple question, right? It seems that who you truly believe yourself to be dictates how you experience yourself and how people think about you. So, let’s say if you think that you are fat or skinny, or maybe you think you are what you eat, like I am a vegetarian or a vegan, that will be your primary experience of yourself. Believing it and thinking it reinforces who you are, or who do you think you are.

But, here is my question for you: is that really who you are? Can you define who you are based on your body size? Can you define who you are based on where you come from? Based on your what you eat or based on your mother tongue?

When you tap into your spirit and find out who you really are, it frees you from being locked into your expectations or societies lame rules. Because you know who you are and you don’t care what other people think about you. Because you know it is only their perspective of life. Because you know the truth about yourself and that is more than enough. And that… That sets you free.

So now, consider the possibility that you are not who you think you are. Who are you?

Well, in basic science class, we learn that all matter – everything – is composed of different combinations of elements. This applies to the human body as well. So, what are you? About 65 percent oxygen, 3 percent nitrogen, 0.25 percent sulphur. Your hair, your eyes, your fluids, your skin, your feet, – and even your fat – are made up of elements. So, in theory, you are just a sack of chemicals! Well, is what you are? A sack of chemicals?

Let me tell you a story. It is the true story of W Mitchell. Mr Mitchell as a young man, he lived life very much like everyone else. But, in one cold night, his life suddenly changed when he had a blazing motorcycle accident. He woke up in the hospital with ⅔ of his body burnt. He not only overcame that but fours years later, Mr Mitchell had a plane crash. This time he woke up in the hospital paralysed from his waist down. Try to imagine his emotional state. Most people, would ask: What now? What do I do now? But hey, not him. He asked: What else do I still have? Am I merely a body or am I something more? How can I contribute to the world?

Today he is a millionaire, a motivational speaker and a business leader. He is also, a living example of what will-power, courage and determination can achieve. But mostly, he is a living example of someone that knows himself. His body might be stuck in a wheelchair, his face might be burned and he might be missing most of his hands, but his spirit, well, his spirit is free.

And this is one of the most empowering things you can know, is that: I am. It’s really all you can know for sure. Everything else it is just a belief, everything else it is just a label; everything else it is just your reaction to fear. And that is it: You are. You exist.

As we believe in whatever labels we tell ourselves to be true, they become true. All of us view the world through our own lens, coloured by the experiences, meanings, and beliefs we’ve accumulated over the years.

So, if you could change your point of view of who you truly are, what would you say now?

The closer you get to answer the question of who you are,  the closer you get to the truth consciousness bliss. You have the choice of not marrying yourself to lame labels like your fat, skinny, vegetarian. In your spirit, you are not of that! You are not your profession or what you do! You simply are!

And tonight, I can tell you this much, no matter who you think you are, you are not that. And neither am I. Who am I?  I am free and I am enough. Who are you?

Maria

Photo: Scott Sinton