Whitney Houston’s recent passing evoked deep sadness among her fellow artists and multitude of fans worldwide. Although I do not consider myself a fan, somehow her songs made me sing in my childhood years. Nevertheless, hearing about what happened to her evoked in me a very different experience. She became a sudden reminder, an awakened inspiration to me. She again reminded me singing her hit version of a George Benson original: “Because the greatest Love of all is happening to me. I found the greatest Love of all inside of me. The greatest Love of all is easy to achieve. Learning to Love yourself is the greatest Love of all.” Houston’s life suddenly became a soulful legacy to celebrate Love, the intention of Loving oneself – a purpose that I am now fulfilling.
To Love oneself is the ultimate purpose of fulfilling Love. But how can we Love ourselves? I have heard this interesting question more often. This question has been obscured in my exploration of Love, since I have always focused my attention in finding its meaning. Now, I have realized that the question “How to Love oneself?” is perhaps the most powerful way to rephrase my usual question “What is Love?”. I believe it becomes more significant in our lives if this important question compels us more to act than to describe.
To answer it, however, is not as simple as a how-to, step-by-step instruction. What I can suggest is for you to take each fundamental principle of Loving oneself as an approach interdependent with other principles. You can try them in different order, and experiment with them at your own pace, applying your unique understanding. These principles have universal properties that allow them to become applicable in any situations or cultures. All you have to do is to live these principles as simple as they are.
Loving Oneself through Breathing
One of the most basic things to do to Love oneself is to breathe consciously. Actually, we breathe involuntarily so often we are not aware that we are breathing. But breathing involuntarily is weaker as opposed to breathing consciously. A conscious breath has a different quality: it has a powerful way to embody Love. Some of us may find this puzzling because we thought that Love and breath are technically not similar. The thing is we associate Love with romance and emotions, and these associations prevent us from accessing Love in its raw form. Being conscious of our breathing brings our chaotic minds in stillness, putting us in a mode of sharp attention of our physical and nonphysical capacities. Our inherent capacity to Love lies in the peace, contentment, patience and awareness that our conscious breathing brings us.
To Love oneself is the ultimate purpose of fulfilling Love.
Loving Oneself through Seeing
The apparent byproduct of breathing is seeing. As we breathe, we recognize the force of Love which we often call Life. Yes, we can see with our naked eyes but this is limited seeing. As we become conscious of Life through breath, Life becomes more visible to us. Seeing in this sense goes beyond what is physical. We begin to penetrate our perceptions down to the most unseen, and breath opens the beginning of our insight. We begin to see both our inner and outer humanity, and see it as the same nature in every human, not just in our loved ones and friends. We peer through the nature of Life as it allows us to live and other creatures on the planet. We begin to see our connection with with each other, since breath is the invisible cord that connects us with the web of Life. All of us – humans, animals and plants – breathe the same air. Nothing is ever disconnected. This connection is what makes us alive. That connection is what we often call Love.
Loving oneself through Feeling
Breathing and seeing leads us to a profound feeling. We feel more than our bodies and realities. We feel such expansive connection with humanity and the universe, and we share the feeling with our fellow humans. We feel our aliveness together with them. We rise up from the usual impulses of liking and disliking. We become aware and feel what others feel. We feel compassion and empathy when others suffer. We feel gratitude and mutual joy when others are blessed. We feel that we are one body, however we appear separate from each other. We have breathed, seen and felt all together this inherent oneness of our existence.
A Generous Act
Loving oneself is not selfish or greedy. Indeed, it is the most generous act we can do, not only for ourselves but for the rest of humanity. As we totally give our full consciousness to the life we have, we also give our consciousness to everyone and everything. We must let go of this limited mentality that Loving oneself is about selfishness. Doing this opens us up to vast possibility of experiencing Love. Like what Houston sings, we can easily achieve the greatest Love of all.