There was a point in my life, where I had a very low opinion of myself. I went days without seeing my reflection, I even showered in the dark. What I understood to be valuable, wasn't present within me. Thank God for awakening! Coming out of the dark cave of low self-esteem, I begin to see the same signs in my friends and family. What I thought to be good ol' fashioned humility and meekness, was actually a posture of shame and unworthiness.
A turning point for myself was a tutorial I received from one of my mentors; Ms. Inya. Her appearance reminded me a lot of Oprah, before the money; but she had this glow about her. Despite being overweight and opposite of our American standard of beauty, she was boisterous and confident. One day, we were meditating and we started to talk about relationships and self-love; she then gave me the secret she has been using for years.
In a country accent, she surprised me, "Sometimes, instead of praying, I'd spend some time in the shower and praise myself."
Confused, I laughed, "What do you mean?"
"You know, sometimes you gotta touch yourself in a way you wish your old man would!"
My eyebrow was touching my hairline, she swats at me, "It ain't that nasty! You don't go straight to the nookie, you gotta love yourself all the way." She proceeded to walk me through what she would say to herself, as she guided us into meditation, she encouraged me to touch myself as well...
Run your fingers over your ear, caressing the lobes: Say aloud to them, 'Thank you, Ears, for hearing.'
Massage your neck, kneading all the muscles: Say to it, 'Thank you, Neck, for holding my head up. Thank you for allowing my head to turn and tilt.'
Slick you fingertips over your eyebrows: Say, 'Thank you, Eyebrows, for showing the world how I feel.'
We continued to get into each body part, no matter how small. I gave praise to my nostrils, scalp, chin, parts of my body I forgot existed, let alone paid any attention to. Hearing myself say these things aloud actually made me feel a little appreciated. She continued...
Massage your hands, palms and fingers: Say 'Thank you, Hands, for holding on.'
Slowly and lovingly, rub your arms up and down: Say 'Thank you, Arms, for reaching out and bringing back'
Later that night, I got home and gave myself a more thorough worship service. I lit candles, played music, everything I'd do to be romantic to someone else. I used oils to massage myself as I came up with several reasons to thank each body part, no matter how small. It was very hard to be naked so long without rushing to masturbate, but deep down, I knew I needed this.
Rubbing oil into the soles of me feet, I said to them, "Thank you, Feet, for bearing the burden of my journey."
Massaging my calves, thighs and hamstrings: "Thank you, Legs, for keeping me mobile, for helping me stand."
Smearing the oil on my stomach, which was a few cans short of a six pack: "Thank you, belly, for digesting my food."
I want to encourage everyone to take a night out to perform this exercise of self love. It has done wonders for my confidence and kept the important issues at the forefront of my mind. There were many days I'd forget and I'd go home and count each beautiful blessing until I was reunited with the truth about myself. I am whole, I am complete, I am perfect the way I am...