• Opening Our Heart

    Each time we look to another to make us feel better or valued we give our power away to them. Feeling better about ourselves, our life, and feeling valued are all inside jobs. Nothing outside of us will give us what we need because we already know deep within what we need. We just need to show up ready to pay attention to ourselves.

    I’m often asked, “How can I open my heart more?” This topic can be really challenging since the key to opening our heart lies in loving ourselves, which is difficult for a majority of us to do. When it comes to putting ourselves on the back burner to serve another, we excel, but when we try to focus some of that attention on ourselves, we often fall short. One of the reasons for that has to do with the way we’ve been programmed which started in our early years, so we honestly don’t know any better. Now that I’m older I can see very clearly how self-love was not part of my upbringing through my parents as my role models, nor any of my extended adult family members. I wasn’t even aware of what self-love was, so I evolved without it often putting my needs last.

    My first awareness that I lacked self-love came at the age of 43 in 2005 at a Debbie Ford workshop at the Omega Center in NYC. I remember her suddenly asking the question, “What do you fear other people finding out about you?” In that moment my life came front, and center and I burst into tears unexpectedly. I wasn’t even aware of what I had been suppressing until that moment. I had just started my journey as a healer, a Reiki Master, and was also in the final months of my Holistic Coaching studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition but the truth was I felt like a fraud because I wasn’t a size 4 talking about healthy eating. I was a size 12. My perception of self was completely distorted, and I broke down in front of the hundred or so people attending the workshop. I could not see my own beauty because I never learned how. My mom was 5’10’’ and a size 14. She was always on a diet and never saw her own worth or beauty so she could not help me see mine. Instead, she always encouraged me to go to Weight Watchers with her. I didn’t get the magnitude of my lack of self-love until this workshop, which was only the tip of the iceberg. My eyes were open to my own pain and suffering; my heart was closed to loving me.

    In this workshop, I saw examples of my life flashing in front of my eyes over and over. I remember being young going to visit my grandparents. They were German and always cooked something odd that I didn’t want to eat like pig’s knuckles and sauerkraut. I didn’t like the smell and was sure I wouldn’t like the taste. My mom told me to “Be nice” and “Don’t say that to grandma”. I didn’t realize at five years old that I was already being groomed to ignore my opinions and feelings because they had little value. My job was to make another feel good even if I was not telling the truth. My parents were doing their best, I don’t blame them. They were most likely keeping the peace for themselves through me. Parents teach their children what they have learned. Their beliefs become our beliefs and our authenticity can be stifled. We forget our needs because we are unsure of how to respond out of fear of getting it wrong.

    Where does self-love enter our life? If we’re not taught to love ourselves at home or in school, and there’s no class on self-nurturing, how do we know it’s important to feed ourselves our own love? We really won’t know so we could end up looking for love on the outside, trying to find people who can make us feel the way we would like to feel. This creates more difficulty because we are still giving our power away to another, expecting them to be the one to show us how amazing, beautiful, and special we are. What if they only do that in the beginning and then if things change, they no longer tell us those things we need to hear? We could then be in search of the next person who will tell us how wonderful we are and rely on them to make us feel special. That is called Co-dependence which outsources our power. This is a looping cycle we become locked into like a hamster on a wheel until the one day we walk into the right workshop, with the right mentor, who helps us realize we’ve had the power all along! We didn’t come with a user’s manual so we go through life and experience the ups and downs which will finally make us stop searching outside and go within. We begin to ask questions like, “Why is love so hard?” and “What’s wrong with me?” “Am I unlovable?” The answer of course is that it’s not hard, there’s nothing wrong with us, we are very loveable. We just need to see our own beauty and value.

    The moment we stop chasing what is outside of us and come back within we can shift everything and the need for another outside of us to make us feel whole is no longer necessary. Each time we look to another to make us feel better or valued we give our power away to them. Feeling better about ourselves, our life, and feeling valued are all inside jobs. Nothing outside of us will give us what we need because we already know deep within what we need. We just need to show up ready to pay attention to ourselves. When someone presents a challenge and makes us feel diminished in some way it’s because through soul contracts, we’ve asked them to step up as our mirror so the lack of love we have for ourselves can be reflected back at us. Eventually, enough becomes enough and that’s when change happens. We must take our power back by loving ourselves enough to not want to suffer anymore. This act of Self-love is the first step to expanding our heart center.

    Going within and loving ourselves takes courage. It’s the most important part of opening our heart and establishing a direct connection with our inner being. When we start to work with self-love, we must be in tune to our own heart, which requires we do a self-assessment in order to begin to establish a relationship with ourselves. We must begin to put our needs first in all situations and say no to things we do not feel aligned with. This may be looked at as selfish but it’s an important part of our journey. It helps us connect to what love feels like when we support ourselves doing things that feel right within as opposed to saying yes and suffering through something we don’t want to do.

    What is our inner being? That’s our soul self — the part of us that our intuition originates from. It’s the part of us that will help steer us down the proper path, if we allow it to. This is another key aspect of ourselves we were not taught about at an early age, unless you had parents who were practicing spirituality. Our inner being always has our best interest at heart because it’s the seat of our soul and the very essence of who we are. Its purpose is to love us even when we are not loving ourselves. It leads us to the well within ourselves where love is in abundance. Our job is to recognize its soft voice from the loud voice of the ego which was meant to keep us playing small.

    What is love? Love can feel elusive especially if we haven’t had much experience with it, but in order to know ourselves deeply, we must form a love relationship with ourselves. When we can understand how love feels, we are able to give love to another as well as receive it in return. I’ve had many experiences where I thought I had received the love of another and later realized after a painful experience, it was not actually love. When I looked at this with clarity, I saw with sadness what I had not seen previously — they were incapable of offering me their love because they didn’t value themselves, and therefore, couldn’t value me. If we are depleted from our own love and attention, then we are giving from an empty glass. How could an empty glass fill up another or quench their thirst? It can’t. Love must be given from a loving heart not a heart in lack.

    Many of us have trained ourselves to operate from a place of lack so we are always operating from a glass less than full believing that we are giving the best of ourselves… but are we? If we are operating at half a glass capacity, we don’t have much to offer another. They are not getting our complete best or the fullness of our love because we have not filled our glass. You can equate this to your bank account. You can’t keep giving money out without taking money in. After a while, you will have nothing to give or pay your bills with. Our love works the same. Energy is energy; money and love are both energies. If we don’t have it, we can’t offer it. Now that we see the truth in how important it is to fill our own cup, why aren’t we doing this as part of our everyday routine?

    It’s time to recognize our own importance and focus on ourselves first. When we do things for ourselves that feels good, and it shows. When we tune inwards and offer ourselves love first our cup is full and even overflowing at times, making it possible to share our cup of goodness with others. Doing things that support and make ourselves happy opens and expands our heart center. The more we open our heart the more we feel love, joy, bliss, and believe it or not, freedom! Yes, freedom is part of the heart center package. When we are happy life flows, we flow, and everything just falls in place. When we are not happy and feel unloved or unfulfilled, we are not operating from our fullness. The lack of self-love stops the flow of universal energy, and as a result, our vibration is low. We cannot create or expand our heart when our vibration is low. When our heart is open and full of love, we are in a higher vibrational state of being and universal energy is in great abundance. When we are operating from our heart, we do not notice the lower-level struggle or challenges life throws our way because we step over them with ease and grace. Everything becomes easier. Challenges become diminished in our life experience because they are not a match for our high vibration, which is based in self-love. Did you know that self-love raises our vibration? It does!

    When we are in a high vibe state, full of love, we are naturally more present within ourselves. We gravitate towards doing things for ourselves that nourishes as opposed to depletes us. Things like eating clean and healthy foods may require us to invest time and energy in grocery shopping, as well as preparing our meal. Making time to be in nature is another thing we can do to open and expand our heart center. When we make time to be in nature, we are present with the Earth and everything within her realm. We just need to tune into the energy of the trees, birds etc. to feel joy and contentment, all of which feed self-love.

    Exercise is another thing we can do to help ensure our body stays strong and flexible. Yoga is great for this. One of the beautiful things about Yoga is it brings us within and back to center, requiring us to focus on our posture and form. We can use our practice to gage where we are in serving our-self. A daily practice of poses that would assist and support in opening our heart center would be extremely beneficial in bringing in the energy of self-love. Poses such as puppy pose, cobra, locust pose, and bow pose would be the most beneficial.

    Self-talk is also a very important part of opening and expanding our heart center. Words, thoughts and actions set intention in motion. We must pay attention to everything we are creating, as well as where we are placing our attention. Self judgement through negative thoughts, words and actions can keep us locked in a lower vibration. Positive self-talk is just as important as doing things for ourselves that make us feel good. I see so many people doing amazing things for themselves, but they negate all of it with negative self-talk. This seems to be one of the most difficult areas for people when it comes to loving themselves. Once our vibration falls it takes a lot of work to raise it back up and hold feelings of happiness and joy, which are based in love.

    Love is energy, based in its own frequency of 528 Hz. If we want to feel love and open our heart center, we must tune our vibration to the frequency of love. This means that we must do things for ourselves that are an energetic match to the frequency of love. This is why it’s so important to find out and know what the frequency of love “feels” like within and bring in more of that. We can’t use our mind; we must feel it to know it. If we expect our frequency to be raised by things and people outside of ourselves, we are in trouble. When we hold love we have the power to help shift someone into their own love. When everyone around us feels the power of our love, we all win!

    If you are unsure of what love feels like a simple exercise would be to lay in bed at night just before you’re ready to fall asleep. Place your hands on your heart and tell your heart you love it. As you are doing this think about how it’s always there for you, more than anyone else you know. Think about how your heart holds up its end of the bargain by performing its simple job of beating in each moment to sustain your life. Now take a step back and look at how many years it’s been doing that. See how you have not paid attention to your own heart? We should never offer our heart to another unless they are going to care for our heart the way our heart cares for us.

    Another exercise is to stand in front of the mirror and place your hands on your heart. Look deep into your own eyes and tell yourself how much you love yourself for all the magic you are. Start pointing out all the things that are unique about who you are. You are, after all, the only one like you. Next, look at all the ways you stop yourself from truly experiencing happiness in your life. Make decisions now to improve it instead of waiting until a future moment or event.

    We must be present to see all we are creating. We want to make choices that are highly aligned with our own joy and happiness in each moment. This means doing a personal inventory of what feels good and not just going with the flow because everyone else is doing it. When we go with the flow we are not in our own personal alignment and this will bring our energy down. Being present and showing up for ourselves must be our priority so we can be at our personal best for ourselves and everyone else around us. Self-love is the key to expanding our heart and opening us up to our greatest joy.

    By Maria Deesy

    Maria is an Energy Intuitive, Ascension Guide and Wayshower working within the energetic blueprint of both Gaia and her clients to access and assist in transmuting trauma at all levels. Maria’s also able to read to solar frequencies of the cosmos and can provide insight Into the energies presenting in order to better navigate our physical experience during our Ascension. Her work supports the awakening process of humanity. Connect with Maria on the following sites: website, blog, Instagram, or Twitter. Copyright©2020 MariaDeesy.com

    Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

  • Five Steps to End Unrealistic Beauty Standards Once and For All

    When we were growing up—in the 80’s—there was only one real beauty standard (white, thin, blonde), and only a few media channels through which we were educated (magazines, newspapers, television, and the movies). Now, there are many, rapidly-evolving ideas about what is beautiful, thanks to modernized attitudes about diversity, representation, and inclusion. There are infinitely more channels through which multitudes of beauty standard ideals—some of which are more toxic than ever—are being disseminated, faster, and with even more high tech photo-altering capabilities.

    Over the weekend I was at a meditation retreat and was telling two participants about my new book, Your Body, Your Best Friend: End the Confidence-Crushing Pursuit of Unrealistic Beauty Standards and Embrace Your True Power. These women had a great question: Do you think that it’s easier to do this now than it was when we were growing up? I said, “It’s complicated.”

    In this environment, which is arguably more accepting, it seems that young people are, ironically, forced to make more difficult choices about their bodies and identities, more swiftly. Social media also has encouraged everyone to falsify their reality, by only showing the “highlight reel.” The promise of beauty, perfection, and leisure still has a strong hold over all of us.

    The cult of thinness hasn’t disappeared in a sea of diversity. In fact, it just may have gotten stronger. But there’s an upshot to the sharply increased volume of imagery, precisely because it shows a multitudes of possibility. It reveals a pathway, and an answer to how to end unrealistic beauty standards once and for all. This answer is simple, but not easy. Like yourself. Like your body, simply because it’s yours. Like your nose, simply because it belongs to you. Like your voice, just because it’s yours.

    How to begin to like yourself? Here are five simple, but not easy steps:

    1. Take the time to get to know yourself.

    It is impossible to determine if you actually like yourself if you don’t know yourself. In yoga, this is the discipline of svadhayaya. Approach getting to know yourself as a lifelong journey of friendship.

    2. Resource your friends to help.

    Unsure what is likable about you? Ask your friends. There is a reason they want to spend time with you, that has nothing at all to do with how you look, or the shape of your body.

    3. Identify the sticky points.

    Everyone has things about themselves they don’t like. These are places of opportunity and growth.

    4. Determine if the sticky points are really you, or simply habits you’ve acquired.

    Sometimes the things we don’t like are not true or real to the core of our nature. This is where yoga is so helpful. Practice will encourage discernment or the ability to identify what is you, and what is unhelpful conditioning or samskara. (Note: samskara aren’t inherently bad! We can also have helpful conditioning).

    5. Rid yourself of unhelpful habits; embrace the true core of you.

    Sometimes what and who you really are isn’t what you would have hoped for. Being ourselves frequently has consequences, some that can be painful. Our task as humans is to like our core selves, no matter what. When you do the work of liking yourself, everything about you becomes beautiful. People who like themselves have a luminosity that eclipses the physical body. And, this is how we will, collectively, end unrealistic beauty standards once, and for all. Will you join me? Now, of course, what I’ve presented here is an incredibly condensed map. If you’re intrigued, and want to know more about making friend with your body, I hope that you will take a deeper dive, by reading my book. 

    Diversity in representation shows that liking yourself could emerge from looking like yourself, instead of like someone else. Paradoxically, body image acceptance isn’t really about your body at all. It’s about your spirit and your soul. When you like yourself—the being that lives within the body—the body is a joy, a gift, a delight, no matter what it looks like or what it can do. And when everyone likes themselves, then unrealistic beauty standards just bounce off boundaries composed of kindness and affection, and everyone simply goes on about their day unaffected emotionally, intellectual, spiritually. Simple. Not easy. If liking ourselves were so easy, we would have a very different world!

    By Erica Mather

    Practice with Erica Mather on Omstars

    Author, Yoga Therapist, Forrest Yoga Guardian, and Master Teacher Erica Mather, M.A. is a life-long educator. She teaches people to feel better in, and about their bodies. Her book Your Body, Your Best Friend: End the Confidence-Crushing Pursuit of Unrealistic Beauty-Standards and Embrace Your True Power (New Harbinger, April 2020) is a 7-step spiritual journey helping women befriend their bodies and utilize them as tools and allies on their quest to live their best lives. Her Adore Your Body Transformational Programs help overcome body image challenges, and the Yoga Clinic of NYC supports students, teachers, and health professionals learn about empowered care for the body. Mather is a recognized body image expert and a Forrest Yoga lineage-holder, hand-selected by Ana Forrest to guide and mentor teachers while they learn about Forrest Yoga. She lives in New York City and teaches at PURE Yoga. Visit her at www.ericamather.com.