It is human to desire true connection. Connection that exists beyond the boundaries of what is politically correct, sociably acceptable, and deemed"good". Each of us yearns to be loved and accepted as we are, not in spite of our faults, but rather, in the face of them. To have this kind of connection we must first learn to truly love ourselves and connect to ourselves beyond our internal experiences shame, pain, blame, betrayal, and judgement. This is a challenging task, as these words alone can send one back into stories of trauma and hurt so deep and heavy that rather than begin the healing the cycle of wound and hurt is rekindled and the flames stoked with fresh air. To take the journey in, to honor that there truly is no right or wrong just consequences to our actions, and to love ourselves in the presence of our internal stories of shame, pain, blame, betrayal, and judgement is true connection, is real intimacy, and is the foundation from which we can truly connect to others.
Nietzsche said “Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” Not looking beyond the invisible threads of disconnect in our own internal landscapes keep us tied to a life of separation, judgment, pain, blame, and shame. To truly connect to one another we have to connect to ourselves first. It is not uncommon to set ourselves apart from the points of our pasts that hurt, were painful, made us feel shame and unloved. Yet these are parts of us. If we cannot love ourselves wholly, how can we love another wholly?
Yoga, in its essence invites an integration of all aspects of ones multifaceted being. The first Yama in Patanjalis eight limbs of yoga, precept of being with others, is to practice Ahimsa the act of non-violence, or loving-kindness. We must first know how to practice this precept with ourselves to practice it with others. No matter what it is that we have looked at within and felt was unlovable, we must turn to with Ahimsa in our personal practice and work to forgive, and to love in the face of. Self love leads to deep self acceptance, leads to freely loving others. True Ahimsa has to start with our selves if we are to honestly practice it with others. To be perpetually beating ourselves up does not free us to connect to who we are and where we have come from. Such disconnect reveals the invisible tread that ties us to an experience of disconnect with others. To love yourself in the face of your shame, pain, betrayals, lack of affection, is to truly connect to yourself, and to turn the garbage of shame and pain into the gold of understanding and connection. This is alchemy.
To give oneself to this sometimes painful, challenging experience is worth the effort and harrowing journey because loving yourself no matter your past choices feels better than the alternative. Loving others in the face of (not despite) their faults and their choices feels better than the alternative. This is true connection. This is intimacy. The more we love ourselves the more we can be in our own company. The more accepting we become of ourselves the more compassionate we become of others the more we can be in anyone’s company and connect, heart to heart.
“We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honor the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get; it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each one of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.”
― Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving,