Bring a deep, enthusiastic “yes” to whatever feels like the center of your experience right now. Not with your thoughts, but with your feelings.
Go on. Try it. You can’t do it wrong.
If you have a thought rattling around in your head that’s taking up a lot of attention, that’s the center of your experience in this moment. Bring a deep, enthusiastic “yes” to that. Take it in the exact opposite direction of rejection, and embrace it fully.
If you have an emotion, if you’re looking at something interesting, if you’re just feeling your body, whatever’s in the spotlight of your attention in the present moment, bring a full, unequivocal “yes” to that experience. Not to the thing itself, but to your experience of it. If you’re thinking about a murderer, you’re not sitting there going “Yeah, murderers!”, you’re bringing a deep, penetrating “yes” to your experience of thinking about the murderer.
If you are having difficulty fully yessing what’s in the center of your experience, bring a deep, experiential “yes” to that difficulty. If you’re having some elements of rejection or revulsion toward what happens to be at the center of your experience in a given moment, bring a deep, enthusiastic “yes” to your experience of that rejection or revulsion. You will notice the rejection or revulsion relaxing the more “yes” you can bring to it.
Practice doing this in each moment. Keep turning your attention to whatever feels more or less like the core of your experience, no matter how insignificant or petty it may seem at first glance, and give it a full embrace of felt affirmation with 100 percent of your being. If there is resistance to this embrace, embrace that resistance with 100 percent of your being. Practice doing this from moment to moment to moment throughout your day.
This doesn’t mean accepting anything anyone tries to impose upon you, and it doesn’t mean ceasing to say “No” with your voice. You can say “No” with your mouth while fully and deeply yessing that experience in the present moment. It simply means making a practice of bringing a deep “yes” to the core of your being in each moment.
This is the direct path to self-love.
Many people say the words “I just need to learn to love myself,” or intuit that many of their inner difficulties stem from self-hatred, but putting self-love into practice is a confusing ordeal that people rarely seem to know how to navigate. If they were raised in a loving environment, they tend to do it naturally, and if they were raised in an environment full of rejection, they tend to internalize that rejection.
The reason self-love is such a confusing ideal to put into practice despite one’s ability to intuit its central value is because our society is full of so much confusion about what the word “love” means, and because there is no actual, tangible “self” that can be found anywhere in experience. Two things:
1 — The most useful definition of love I’ve been able to come up with is a deep, enthusiastic yes to something. It’s the exact opposite of total rejection, which is the experience of “No, all no to all of this.” It’s the experience of “Oh! All yes to all of this!” It’s as simple as that, and it’s a skill you can get better at.
2 — When I say there is no self that can be found anywhere in experience, I mean no matter how hard you look within your own field of experience you’ll never find a solid thing in the here and now that can accurately be labeled “me”. You’ll find sensory impressions, feelings, thoughts, and a mental story about an individual with a particular name who’s led a particular kind of life, but an actual self only exists linguistically as an abstract concept we invented to differentiate one human body from the others in our speech. I am saying “I” and “you” in this essay, but these are just concepts of distinction which only exist out of linguistic convention in a totally boundless and inseparable field of experience.
Self-love in practice is therefore the deep, felt yessing of the core of this swirling, shifting, shapeless light show that is the human experience.
As you become more skillful at loving the core of your experience, you’ll notice yourself becoming more skillful at loving everything that comes up, including family, co-workers, animals, trees, music, the wind, the ground beneath your feet, and the sun upon your face. It’s like pouring water upon the point of a cone: by pouring love into the center of your experience, you ensure that it will spread outward and everywhere.
If you make a diligent practice of this, rejection will find less and less purchase within you, and you will quickly transform into a deeply loving and joyful being. And from there, miracles can happen. And a new world can be birthed through you.
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