“Self-love is the only ocean you can never drown in. The deeper you dive in, the more your lungs fill with air.” ~ Billy Chapata
I want to pose a question that requires reflection on your behalf. Try to get a sense of what arises within as you contemplate its significance. When the master teacher, Buddha wrote: “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection” do you suppose he was referring to self love, or perhaps more accurately, the love of the Self?
Be careful how you answer this question because it may be a call to action that requires you to get to know yourself better…to more fully love the entirety of your being. Welcome to the only ocean in which you can never drown!
The question that will define you in ways you might never imagine is: What is the truth about you when everything is stripped away? That is, are you able love yourself to the point of: forgiving yourself, nurturing yourself and cultivating a soul presence in all that you do?
I realise these are difficult questions to answer because most people will close this page after reading and carry on with their lives without truly considering what they’ve read. Skimming the surface of our true nature can be likened to dipping our toe in cool water and claiming to know what the ocean feels like.
One must submerge themselves to get a sense of what being in water is like. It reminds me of the passage by the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” We cannot claim to understand an idea by exposing ourselves to pieces of it. We must immerse ourselves and experience it fully to appreciate its essence.
Yet, this is what we do regarding our lives. We skim the surface of who we really are, sometimes dipping our toe but not submerging ourselves. We are powerless to know what we want if we don’t understand ourselves first. And there lies the challenge: to truly know something one must experience it fully, irrespective of the pain and discomfort associated with it.
Sometimes we resist coming home to ourselves because we avoid the process of experiencing ourselves completely. Perhaps it is the pain, regret, or repressed memories we avoid. But that which we stow away grows in intensity and comes back at a greater force to overwhelm us later.
It is what author Matt Kahn refers to in Everything Is Here to Help You: A Loving Guide to Your Soul’s Evolution as carving out time to connect with ourselves in order to overcome self-destructive habits: “This is why making peace with time is essential in the cultivation of authentic self-love. When making time to care for ourselves, we are able to make constructive choices, instead of being attracted to self-destructive patterns.”
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi
The greatest strength and courage we can undertake is to meet ourselves in the midst of pain and discomfort. Everyone feels good when immersed in joy and happiness, but ask them to look deeply into their pain and sadness and that will tell you more about an individual’s courage. Life is not about feeling good all the time. For even pain and discomfort serve a purpose, when we show up with an open mind and heart and are willing to examine our fears, judgements or shame. I would argue we are none of these things because they are labels we attach to circumstances don’t turn out as we expect.
I asked you at the start what is the truth about yourself when everything is stripped away? I hope that you allow the question to sink in to the core of your being. Let it be the first thought on your mind when you wake up and the last thought on your mind when you retire to bed. Try it for one week and I assure you this simple exercise can have a significant effect in helping you to understand the essence of who you really are.
As I alluded to earlier, skimming the surface of our life will rarely bring us the joy and happiness we deserve. There is more depth to who we are than skimming over ourselves like a magazine article. Perhaps it’s time to slow down, to go deeper into the amazing essence of the true Self. We must become detectives looking under a microscope, magnifying aspects of ourselves we loathe or are afraid to confront.
My invitation for you is to live from the level of your soul because that is where your divine presence is found. Our soul has the roadmap to our destiny, while the ego is its co-driver seeking to analyse the terrain ahead with a far too critical eye, continually making judgements depending on how it feels in the moment.
I’m drawn to my mentor and acclaimed spiritual author Dennis Merritt Jones’ perspective in Your Redefining Moments: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be in which he writes: “If we don’t follow our true path, we know there is a part of us that will slowly begin to die. Call it Spirit, Soul, Life Force, or what you like, there is that within us which knows who it is we’ve come here to be and what it is we’ve come here to do. If we don’t listen to and honour its call, it begins to wane. This is when life becomes more about enduring until we die rather than thriving while we are here.” The path Jones refers to lies directly in front of us every minute of every day; we simply need to pause and mindfully (and perhaps courageously) step onto it.
This is where the proverbial rubber meets the road — your true call to action: I’d like you to consider once more what is the truth about yourself when everything else is stripped away? Is it a story of loving the Self and following the guidance of your soul or a narrative of a detracted lack of self-worth?
As the article title reminds us: The deeper you dive in to the love at the core of your being, the more your lungs fill with air. Jump in, the water is amazing!
Originally published at medium.com