“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance”
~Oscar Wilde


When was the last time you actually interrupted the relentless flow of tasks, emails, texts, calls … and took a real moment for yourself, BY YOURSELF and stood in front of the mirror and had a conversation with yourself? And what if you actually made yourself turn off the bad radio inside your head, the one that is ceaselessly self-critical? And what if you stood there basking in the wonderment of who you are as a perfect, loving, whole being on this earth?

Maybe today’s the day you need to do it. In honor of Valentine’s Day, I say you do it … And this is how the conversation should go:

“Hello there, stranger. How have you been? How are you today? Right this minute? Right here, right now?  Did you know that I love you and I appreciate you? All of the little things you do for me, body and mind, to keep all of my finely-tuned involuntary systems humming along … keeping me alive so that I can stop and smell the roses and share a smile with that lovely child holding his Mother’s hand? Here I am, self, here I am spirit, saying hello and giving you some much deserved, overdue love.

I did this very thing today, and was surprised and delighted to find that when I looked at myself, I felt a sudden sense of comfort, peace and quiet. It was some kind of unexpected magic. There I was floating inside this bubble of surreal amazement, this rare opportunity that I had chosen to create, suspended in time, holding the rest of the world at bay in order to have this very important conversation … with myself.  I was suddenly no longer just a person, but an entire world unto myself– yes, that’s right, bigger than my own reality outside- no longer merely a person, a person who interacts with the world and focuses most of her energy and attention out there, but pristinely alone in this stolen, dedicated moment in time.  I was the only one alive and ready to be lavished with the love that only I knew how to give. And I smiled at myself- I felt overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude to be alive, in this body, with this heart, silently pumping inside. And I gave thanks to myself, my body, my mind, my soul and I kissed myself on the forehead, the way I would tenderly kiss my child. And then, I smiled, a deep, broad smile that lit up my face- the face that was staring back at me, and inside, I could feel the new, life-giving energy that can only come from love zephyring up and down my spine and traveling to every part of my being, igniting me with inspiration and epiphany. It led me to put fingers to keyboard today and share this with all of you … that to love yourself is the only way to go. I highly recommend it, this loving of yourself, this smiling to yourself in the mirror, and I have vowed to myself, that even on my darkest days, I will perform this most sacred ritual of not just checking in with myself, but loving myself and giving myself a smile, which serves as a perfect segue to the “Inner Smile,” perhaps one of the most powerful ways to love thyself, not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

Mantak Chia, one of my esteemed mentors, teaches the Inner Smile to people around the globe, and here is a Valentine’s gift from me to you- an introduction to one of the easiest and most accessible ways to love yourself and your organs. I feature it in my Waking Energy trainings, and it is just one of so many golden moments in the workout that empowers and inspires freedom and joy.

“The Smile Solution
Mother Theresa believed “peace begins with a smile.” A sincere smile shines from our soul, making the world a warmer place. As Joseph Addison expressed, “What sunshine is to flowers, smiles are to humanity.” A genuine smile puts us at ease whilst a frown creates unease, promoting disease and depression according to modern and traditional medicine. Smiling to others and ourselves is a gift of love. The universal language of a smile speaks straight to the heart, bypassing the intellect and ego. To nurture loving relationships Ayurveda advises one greet others with a pleasant face, Buddhism encourages friendliness to all (maitri) and Taoism teaches that giving ourselves a grin is the best medicine.
A deep inner smile spreads like a relaxing elixir making us receptive to transform negative energy into positive. Conversely, a scowl suppresses our immune system by increasing stress, contracting channels and blocking energy. Research by French physiologist Dr Israel Waynbaum indicates that facial muscles used to express emotion trigger specific brain neurotransmitters. Smiling signals happy healing hormones such as ecstatic endorphins and immune boosting killer T-cells whereas frowning triggers the secretion of stress hormones. Smile therapy actually lowers the stress hormones cortisol, adrenalin and noradrenaline and produces hormones which stabilise blood pressure, relax muscles, improve respiration, reduce pain, accelerate healing and stabilise mood. If you’re feeling down the stress hormones secreted with a scowl may increase blood pressure, weaken the immune system, increase susceptibility to infections, and exacerbate depression and anxiety.
But what if we don’t feel like smiling? Can we fake it till we make it? Though a heart-felt smile has a deeper effect, even a surface smile tricks the brain into releasing happy hormones according to facial biofeedback research. And the more we smile, the more we want to smile concluded a study where people allowed to smile found cartoons funnier than those suppressed from smiling by holding pencils in their lips. This is because each time we smile we reinforce happy neural pathways that fire more spontaneously with each subsequent use. Self- love smiling circuits then release healing nectar and self-hate messages release poisons that breed disease according to Taoism.

The Cellular Smile
A genuine smile glows from our deepest layer of self-love, radiating like sunlight through clouds and embracing everything as an extension of oneself. Starting as an inner hug it spreads to soften the whole body, melting malevolent energy to emerge from benevolent eyes and lips. The smile says, “I accept and love you unconditionally.” Our being warms to this kindness, dissolving walls of psychic and physical isolation that prevent wholeness and health. Just as others respond to our loving smile, our cells soak up smiling rays, creating new cells from the inner love affair.
Taoist Master Mantak Chia has taught the inner smile for the past 40 years. He explained its significance to me on my recent visit to his Thailand retreat, “In ancient China, the Taoists taught that a constant inner smile to oneself, insured health, happiness and longevity. Why? Smiling to yourself is like basking in love: you become your own best friend. Living with an inner smile is to live in harmony with yourself.” The smiling energy emanating from Mantak Chia was reminiscent of enlightened souls such as the Dalai Lama. He has an aura of contentment and kindness that put me at ease immediately. Mantak Chia also explained that as sickness starts from negative emotions settling in the organs, the inner smile breaks this cycle. “By transforming destructive emotions into positive energy the inner smile removes the cause and symptoms of disharmony.”

The inner smile arises from a loving intention, surfaces on the face then suffuses our internal and external reality. Though a smile may feel fake initially our psychophysiology responds with happiness anyway. As respected Monk Thich Nhat Hanh explains,
“ Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” Eventually our being is saturated in smiling benevolence and it becomes a constant, effortless expression of our inner bliss.
If smiling feels so good why don’t we do it more? Negative thoughts become entrenched in our energy and imprint themselves on our face. Helen, a recent participant in an Inner Smile Workshop observed- “Its easier to remain closed and blame externals for our problems. The inner smile requires us to look inside ourselves, accept ourselves and extend that loving energy to everything.”

And finally, to close this Love Thyself entry today, I leave you with a sweet and innocent, very childlike poem that I found today on the internet, that says it all:

Today I Have Decided to Fall in Love with Me

~Destiny Love Mitchell

Today I have decided

To fall in love with me.

I had to give it a shot

Just had to see.

It started off easy,

And felt oh so right.

All of a sudden

I became a Queen.

What a sight!

I didn’t care what he thought,

She said,

Or they did.

I was unstoppable.

Dreaming the impossible

Just like a little kid.

But wouldn’t you know,

I fell.

And, boy, did I yell.

With bruises along the way,

I’d be lying if I didn’t say

That I wanted to give up.

But somehow convinced myself to stay.

I just had to do it.

This had to be the day.

Yet, I persisted to cut myself

With self-doubt and critical words.

To the point where I wanted to fly away,

Far and fast like a flock of birds.

I knocked down my self-esteem

And in pain and anguish,

I fell to my knees.

But like a cat with 9 lives,

I got back up again.

Hoping to finally become

My own best friend.

I’ve gotten through the hard part,

Just like I knew I would.

I never knew loving me

Could ever feel this good.

So take my advice

And take a chance on you.

It is by far the smartest thing

You could ever do.

Now when I look in the mirror

All that I see,

Is the love of my life

Smiling back with glee.

And this story ends

Where it all begins,

Because today I have decided

To fall in love with me.

2 Responses to “Love Thyself: A Valentine’s Day Meditation”

Thank you so much for sharing. This is a gift that keeps on giving :-)

February 14th, 2011

Hi Leah,

Thank you and so glad that you enjoyed this Valentine blog- the inner smile and those moments of self-love in the mirror are so essential to living a life in the light.
Kindest regards,

February 15th, 2011