Despite its apparent simplicity, self-love is an elusive thing. The business of everyday life and the demands of work, childcare, and other responsibilities can leave us feeling swept up in chaos and out of touch with our own feelings. While social media has brought about novel means of connecting and communicating with others, it also facilitates imperfect comparisons that make us unhappy with the status of our own lives. And even when we do find time to relax and unwind—say, by taking a warm bath or going to the spa every now and then—we soon find ourselves caught up again in the fast-paced cycle of our obligations.
Given these difficulties, a question emerges: How can we fight off feelings of inadequacy, exhaustion, and self-doubt and learn to love ourselves in a way that lasts? Fortunately, Ayurveda offers answers that have the power to transform not only our mental state, but also our physical health and wellness. In fact, the interconnection of these states is at the heart of Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda posits that our minds, bodies, and spirits are deeply connected, and it proposes a holistic approach to wellness, one that tackles the roots of our ailments rather than their symptoms. Self-love is at the heart of successful Ayurvedic practice—our inner spirit reflects our external health, and vice versa. By adopting Ayurvedic practices that restore balance to our bodies and minds, it becomes easier to enter a lasting state of self-love.
Improving Ojas: How Ayurvedic Practices Encourage Both Health And Self-love
A central Ayurvedic concept for understanding the connection between health and self-love is ojas. In short, ojas is a subtle force in our body that represents radiance—both physical and mental. When our ojas is strong, both our immunity and our spirits are strong too; we find ourselves able to withstand challenges with acceptance and serenity, and we are able to fend off external negativity. We experience a greater sense of satisfaction and contentment with our lives. In short, we gain a strong capacity for self-love and self-acceptance, which in turn influences our relationships with others and the world around us.
Maintaining a healthy, antioxidant-rich diet full of fruits, vegetables, and nuts and a regular routine is essential to improving our ojas. In the next section, we break down several Ayurvedic rituals that can be incorporated into your routine for lasting health and wellness benefits—and a corresponding uplifting of the spirits.
Ayurvedic Rituals For Cultivating Self-love
While writing in a journal, meditating, and doing yoga are all great ways to cultivate mindfulness and self-love, unless they’re made a regular part of your routine, their effects won’t be long-lasting. It may seem daunting to try to incorporate new “tasks” into one’s already busy schedule, but fortunately these Ayurvedic practices can take as little time as a few minutes—and they bring profound results.
Oil pulling is an Ayurvedic practice that involves swishing 1-2 teaspoons of oil in the mouth for 10-20 minutes. As the conditions of the mouth often reflect the larger innerworkings of the body, oil pulling detoxifies the mouth of impurities and toxins, thus helping to combat conditions like disease, joint pain, acne, and more. It also freshens the breath and whitens the teeth. Oil pulling is a rejuvenating ritual you can incorporate seamlessly into your daily routine—simply oil pull while taking a shower, washing the dishes, or going about your other tasks! This transformative practice leaves you feeling refreshed, centered, and ready for the day—and it also has long-term benefits for your health.
Self-massage is a transformative Ayurvedic practice that allows us to feel deeply attuned to the needs of our bodies, which in turn helps us feel more intimate and loving toward ourselves. Through this practice of massaging oil into our bodies, we can relieve pain, improve our skin, sharpen mental focus, improve circulation, and more. By relieving our own pain and rejuvenating our bodies and spirits, this process shows us that we don’t need to go to the spa to treat ourselves, and that a little self-love can bring amazing results.
The practice of dry brushing is simple: you run a dry brush along your skin in firm, gentle strokes, a process that improves circulation and lymphatic function. The lymphatic system plays an important role in helping us fend off disease and other impurities; dry brushing stimulates greater lymphatic flow and facilitates the expulsion of toxins. On an immediate level, dry brushing helps the skin feel rejuvenated and awakened, and it also promotes a youthful glow. A practice that only takes minutes, dry brushing truly helps us to love the skin we’re in.
INCENSE AND CANDLE BURNING
In addition to the interconnectedness of mind, body, and spirit, Ayurveda also posits that our environment deeply affects our wellbeing. Having harmony with one’s environment is crucial for improving one’s ojas and for feeling at peace. The simple practice of lighting a candle or burning incense can radically transform and elevate the mood of your space, encouraging a sense of calm and self-acceptance.
It’s important to remember that there’s no one pathway for learning how to self-love—everybody is different, and different rituals may work better for you than others. However, taking the time to practice self-care and to prioritize your health and wellness (if only for a few minutes every day) can have a profound impact on how we view ourselves. When we feel more in tune with our body, we gain a greater sense of self-acceptance and understanding. And when we establish routines that improve our ojas, we find ourselves more amenable to the radical practice of self-love, a practice that, with time and practice, can transform us.