The Cynic's Guide To Self-Love
by Ayanna Redwood-Crawford
For those of us who find mantras and affirmations embarrassing, don’t really believe in the healing powers of crystals and can only meditate for 3 minutes at a time. Here are some ways to shift your energy (read:thinking) around all of this to make self-love practices less cringe-y and more palatable.
Everywhere you look nowadays - tv, magazines and especially Instagram - we see almost everyone talking about self-love, what it looks like and why it’s so important. More often than not, it involves some kind of spiritual healing either by employing the use of inanimate objects or by saying something repeatedly...to yourself...in the mirror...every day. That’s a lot of pressure for the modern cynic who, while knowing self-love is important, really just can’t find the time to say words to their own face and/or put their energy into fancy looking rocks. Cynics, I feel you. And you’ve come to the right place. Let’s start with affirmations.
For me to wrap my head around the mere thought of saying the words “you are loved”, or something to that effect, over and over to myself in the mirror without gagging, I had to stop focusing so much on the words and instead focus on how the sound of my voice saying those words calmed me. This made a helluva lot more sense because I’ve seen those videos of babies immediately stopping crying as their parent chanted “OM” to them. It’s centering AF! So just try to think of it this way, It’s not about the words, it’s about the vibration of the sound going through your body. I became more curious about this and decided to do my research on the science of affirmations, mantras and sound. I found that repeating affirmations and mantras, over time, can change the chemistry in your body and mind for the better. Here’s an excerpt from an article I found.
“The act of your tongue pressing against the palate of the mouth stimulates the hypothalamus, thalamus, and pituitary. When you recite a mantra, you hit the palate with your tongue. In the palate, there are 84 meridian points: 64 in the hard palate and 20 in the soft palate.
This vibration emanating from the hypothalamus directs the actions of the pituitary gland and governs the endocrine systems. It is also in charge of releasing chemicals and hormones throughout the body and to the brain. This vibration releases chemical hormones that balance the body and have healing effects.
Moreover, the pituitary gland is stimulated through the tongue, hitting the different meridian points. Interestingly, the pituitary gland is formed in the fetus from cells of the roof of the mouth that rise into the brain. This is why pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth stimulates the gland.”
And for the cynics who are into the hard scientific facts, check out this study on the “mantra” effect here found in the US National Library of Medicine.
Meditation is… kinda hard. First, because there’s way too much happening in our day-to-day to feel good about taking a whole 20 mins ton essentially shut our brains off. I get anxiety just thinking about all the things I can’t think about during meditation. Meditation seems like a luxury, a brain massage, if you will. And while a brain massage sounds like something I’d definitely be interested in, I honestly can’t find the time to have an actual massage so where does that leave me? Furthermore, from what’s been communicated to us about meditation, you would think one would need a completely quiet space, some incense and maybe a lit candle or two to heighten the experience. Are you stressed out yet? Because I am. Luckily, not everything we think we know about meditation is accurate. There are so many different kinds of meditation and they are all effective! My favorite is walking meditation. Walking meditation is basically walking with no goal or destination. All you have to do is be mindful of every step and every breath you take. Not focusing on a destination is incredibly centering. I always return from a walking meditation feeling better than when I started. Here’s a list of more meditations that you probably haven’t thought of. Hopefully, you’ll find one that makes sense for you. Hopefully, it’s the eating one. You’re welcome.
At the end of the day, no matter how annoying it is for folks to tell you how to love yourself, the most important thing is that you find a way to do it that feels right. For example, In the morning, right when you wake up and before you check your texts and emails, ask yourself “what can I do to show myself a little love today?” After that, do feel free to immediately roll your eyes. But try to work a few simple things into your day that’ll make you feel good. It can be as simple as choosing to only have healthy meals that day or working on a project or assignment you’ve been putting off. The moral of all this is that you have control over how you choose to show love to yourself, so do what makes sense. Just make sure you do it, ok?