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A recent conversation with a friend got me reflecting on the most impactful understandings plant medicines like Ayahuasca have opened me to and continue to guide me in understanding -- what self-love means and looks like for me, and what it means to love.

There are many things I think of related to cultivating and practicing self-love. Recently I’ve been thinking about the importance of caring for ourselves so that we may care for others.  I am living through an experience with my family that allows me to support my mom in a way I never have before, and I believe that it’s only because of how much emphasis I  put on caring for myself that I have been able to do so.  An image of a plant came to me when reflecting on this.  Plants need water, sunlight, and fertile soil to blossom and grow.  It can definitely survive without all of these conditions, but it’s not the same as when all conditions are optimal.  I think we’re the same.  I firmly believe that we not only need to nourish ourselves with things like food and rest, but also things that are pleasurable to us, like discovering, playing, and being with loved ones and people that nourish our souls.  

Often people tell me how busy they are or how much they have to focus on the “important” things like work and therefore don’t have the energy to give to pleasure.  I can understand the belief that if someone wants to make something happen, they have to be 100% focused on it all of the time, and the very real need to produce and earn a living to support one’s life.  And at the same time, the results of my experimentation lead me to believe that when I intentionally allocate time, energy, and money to doing the things that are just for me, for my own personal benefit, enjoyment, and pleasure, I can do all the things I “have to do” better and more easily.  I feel more efficient. That efficiency is a by-product of doing from a place of fullness.  When I’m intentional about allowing myself the time to do the things that make me feel good, I’m filling my cup, and it is easier to give to my creations and those around me when my cup is full.  

Allowing myself to do the things I need to be good with myself, for me, is synonymous with allowing myself to be guided by and follow my heart.  Lately, the way I’ve been leaning into that has been by being deeply present with all of my feelings and emotions and asking for help from one of my favorite medicine women and therapists who has been accompanying me along this process.  There has been so much that I’ve been feeling, and a real urge to dive deeply into those feelings to understand where they stem from and cut the generational patterns I no longer wish to repeat.  It has been both uncomfortable and cathartic, but truly a beautiful process I have opened for myself by listening to what was coming up instead of judging it or shutting it down, and letting it take me away in exploration.  

I have always tended to run towards the things that make me feel uncomfortable or even scare me- both externally and internally. Every time I do it affirms my belief that when I allow myself to follow my heart, only the most beautiful things occur as a result.  The path to getting to that beauty might not always be the rosiest, but it is always worth it.  

Permitting myself to follow the pull of wherever my heart takes me is another pillar of my self-love practice.  Aside from the blessing of receiving the gifts of where my heart takes me, I believe it simultaneously rewires my subconscious to believe that I am worthy of my heart’s desires, and the first step in bringing something into reality is believing in it.  

It’s from this place of feeling the love that I have been giving myself that my understanding of what it means to love continues to take form, but this is already long, so maybe I’ll save my thoughts on love for another day :)


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