Opinion: On Becoming a Lover of One's Body, Emotions, and Mind
Lately, encountering that popular line from the marriage liturgy, “till death do us part," is accompanied by the realization that the relationship shared by the body, its emotions, and mind is an embodiment of this phrase. For is it not only in death that body parts with its emotions and mind? This means one is in a relationship with one’s being, from birth till death, for better or for worse! So if one is already married to one's body and mind then is it not in one’s very best interest to make great friends with these aspects of one's being? It appears that too many of us are uncomfortable in our bodies and minds. And yet seek to find and establish the sort of relationship we should have with ourselves with others. To our disappointment, although we ought not be surprised, these relationships fail. That we cannot teach others to love us could be, not only because they do not know how to love, but also because we do not know how to act in true love of self and thus of others. But if one is in a sense married to oneself, would not it be a very good sort of thing if one started taking measures to invest in a better union with one's being? The sort of relationship that is so good one knows the difference between loneliness in self, and loneliness in companionship; and knows that it can be preferable and healthier to be lonely in one's own company than in another's companionship. For the company that drives one into loneliness, at the same time, often, demands so much of one’s attention making it difficult to focus on oneself. The proposal then is, why not start taking steps in becoming our own lovers? And by this I do not mean overly self-indulgence or shallowness but rather a sort of relationship where the focus is love of self, which at once takes focus away from the body and deeper into the self to motivate a desire and practice of self-knowledge. A love of self that notes the mind and body to be passing seasons but also understands these aspects of being as wonderful gifts that ought to be appreciated, and lovingly cared for.
Let us iron out a few aspects of this proposal of becoming one’s own lover, which is really not a strange idea. Many of us claim to love ourselves, if this is so, then one is already, in a sense, a lover of self. So all one has to do then is to act towards the self in the ways that a good lover would to her beloved. The thing, however, is many of us only know how to make love in words. Everyone keeps saying I love you! And yet the first chance we get to actually show love we make some lame excuse and run in a different direction. We can safely say declaring oneself a lover of self does not mean that one actually practices love of self. The proposal here is that one would actually act out of love for self; i.e. show yourself what you mean by you love you. Forget the words, just focus on the act of loving. Ask yourself what are the behaviors of a good lover? Then start practicing your answers in actions upon yourself. For instance, if you are of the mind that a good lover bakes you delicious cookies once every month, you make time and learn to, if you do not know how to, bake yourself delicious cookies once every month! If you feel a good lover is one that really listens to you, you start making time to listen to you; ask about your day, ask about your mood, dig into your thoughts--lie on the couch if you must--talk about your fears, face them, and learn to see them for what they really are, nothing to be feared. If a good lover is someone who would encourage you to be your best self, be that person to yourself; find ways to encourage your best self to come forward. Encourage it with open-mindedness, do not be insulting of your thoughts and emotions; create a trusting space where your thoughts and emotions are willing to express themselves and believe they will be given fair consideration. Learn to be patient with yourself, learn to be kind to yourself, learn to be forgiving of yourself, learn to be embracing of yourself, learn to look at yourself through the kind eyes of love.
Also, you could perhaps focus on the physical and mental strengths you can appreciate in a lover and raise them in yourself. Hence if you are attracted to a fit form, work on making your own form fit; if you find speakers of a certain language attractive, learn the language for yourself; if you find intelligence attractive, improve yours. Thus to be lover of your body, its emotions, and mind is to consciously serve and care for these aspects of being to improve them. In this case it is easier to understand that becoming lover of one’s humanity is not an act of ego inflation. Seeing as egoism is not love of self, but a defensiveness of self. A refusal to admit one’s flaws thus a refusal to improve self, thus a betrayal and ruination of self. Egoistic practices result in overly attachment and possessiveness of the unnecessary, leading one into greed for more of what one does not need, and envy of what is not ours and cannot be ours and ought not to be ours. Making certain that we are unnecessarily miserable. Self-centeredness imprisons rather than frees one. Which means it cannot be love, as love is that which allows one to float. This is the whole purpose of becoming one’s lover--to live truthfully and float.
Several of us dream of a kind lover or friend who would come into our world and make everything brilliant. I keep hearing those who wait for the sort of lover to find them often end up wasting away a good and beautiful life. So perhaps, instead of spending so much energy and time dreaming and wasting away for something that even if could happen to us, we may not be able to recognize or appreciate it––because we never bothered to practice love, and therefore, lack the ability to recognize its forms––we could focus on trying to understand what it means to first and foremost be our own lovers and how to practice some serious self-loving.