It was summertime in Yogaville.
Yes, it is a real place. The Satchidananda Ashram in Virginia is a self contained community, not at all disconnected from the world, but operating on a slightly different frequency.
I was there for a workshop by Krishna Das. 3 days of Kirtan, and a week of immersion in Yoga, prayer & meditation.
One day during lunch, as I was sitting in the cafeteria, chatting with the woman sitting next to me, she turned to me and said “you know what YOU should do?”
“You should find a mirror, look yourself deeply in the eyes and tell yourself you love yourself. Say: I love you Peter”
Now I had never met this woman before, and had only been chatting with her for a couple of minutes before she told what I should do. I thought that it was a bit presumptuous of her. I have been practicing Yoga and doing intensive self healing work for decades by this point in my life, including inner child work. And I was doing pretty well. Feeling pretty good about myself and my life. Not really feeling a need to do a silly mirror exercise, prescribed by someone who did not know me at all.
But I have come to realize that sometimes God speaks to us through other people. So I decided to give it a go.
I found a mirror – in a private place – I looked myself deeply in the eyes, smiling and feeling a little silly, I said “I love you Peter”.
I know from past experience that it can often take a little bit of time for something to sink in, whether it’s a meditation, affirmation or whatever. So I held my own gaze and repeated myself “I love you Peter”.
What I was not expecting, was to receive an answer back.
“No you don’t”
What? Wow. Where is that coming from ?
Turns out it was coming from a place deep inside where I still felt hurt, fear and mistrust.
This was the beginning of a process (and a practice) that has lasted over 4 years, and is still going on to this day.
That is a process of loving and accepting myself.
I learned that I cannot really love myself until I accept myself. If there is a part of me that I do not accept or like, then there is a part of myself that I do not love.
I learned that one cannot simply “love themselves” once and be done with it. No, it’s an ongoing relationship, just like with another person. There are ups and downs. Some days I can love myself utterly, inside and out. Other days I can’t even look myself in the eye because I feel embarrassed or guilty or ashamed of some part of me. Or I just don’t like what I see.
It is a process and a practice. Looking myself in the eyes – EVERY DAY – and telling myself: I love you Peter.
Some days I take a little convincing, but it becomes easier with every passing day, and eventually that part of me, deep inside, relaxes a little and opens up, and starts to believe me.
When you can open up and accept love from yourself, only then can you truly accept it from others. Then you can also accept the ultimate love: from your Creator.
That’s when EVERYTHING opens up.
Looking at my life I see that only Love Has been my soul’s companion. From deep inside My soul cries out: Do not wait! Surrender! For the sake of Love. ~ RUMI
Tonight, I gave my daughter a magic mirror and suggested she try this herself.
Now I am suggesting that YOU try it.
Go ahead, give it a try, you might just love it.
You might just love yourself.