Do You Adore Yourself?
April 9, 2016
The eccentric man who sat before me crossed his legs and reclined further in the metal folding chair, arms stretched out over the back of it, creating the illusion of comfort. His eyes peered into me with the help of eyeglasses that made perfect circles around his eyes. He cocked his head to the side and proceeded to ask me, “Do you adore yourself?”
I wish I could give you more of the lead up conversation, but honestly I don’t have any recollection of how we got to such a question. And the degree to which the question stunned me seems to have erased all memory of the words exchanged beforehand.
I just finished yoga teacher training, so I know the correct answer is “yes,” – but given that my inclination was to give a half eye roll and a barely audible groan, I’d say that the answer in that moment was “no.” He sensed my uneasiness in the long pause that followed. “Who do you adore? What about your dog? Do you adore her?”
I conceded. Yes, I adore her. She has trustingly been by my side for 13 years. A steady companion moving with me from town to town, across the country and back again. We’ve watched each other grow, both older and wiser. Sure, we get fed up with each other at times. Mostly in the early days when she didn’t know how to control her bowels, and I didn’t know how to channel my teenage angst – usually in that order. Yet somehow we keep choosing to forgive.
What a blessing this creature is to me. She’s always willing to listen, with pointy ears perked up. She’ll nuzzle her fuzzy chin on my lap and look me in the eyes when I’m crying. She doesn’t take it personally; she just waits until the feeling passes. She doesn’t judge if I lose my composure and throw something in a fit of rage. Though admittedly she will give me my space by leaving the room… quickly.
When I’m running around the house singing and dancing with excitement for no other reason than being thrilled that it’s Saturday morning, she’ll wiggle, wag, and chase. No questions asked. Ready to experience the feeling de jour. She’s been with me through the good and the bad, the dark desperate times of utter confusion, and the profound moments of insight. And I adore her all the more for it.
I am just beginning to wrap my head around the coined term self-love, but so often for me that translates into another “to do” task. Feeling like I need some extra self care, I’ll draw a warm bath, cuddle up with a soft blanket and immerse myself in a great book, or if it seems like a special occasion, I’ll schedule a massage.
These are all lovely tools, but I’m seeing now that I adore my beloved pup not for anything she does, but simply for her presence and engagement in living. How do I love myself without doing anything? Honestly, for me, this seems like a tall order.
I suppose the message for me is that the more I learn to ride the waves of feeling, and not just the select few that make for a pleasant ride, the more I learn to genuinely adore myself without any conditions needing to be met.
The classes and weekend retreats at the Awareness Institute have helped me to arrive at this realization, and I’m grateful for the experiential opportunities that allow me to practice genuinely adoring myself and others.