This time of year marks the Lenten season. Traditionally, this is a time of fasting for Catholics. Having grown up Catholic I recall fasting from junk food for forty days and abstaining from meat on Fridays. At some point I began questioning my motives for fasting and what Lent meant for me. Eventually, after contemplation, I began to change my Lenten ritual. My current tradition is to release something that no longer serves my spiritual growth.
Self criticism is a vice I spent most of last year working on releasing. I’ve been blessed to start 2015 with a more compassionate heart for myself and in turn for others. We cannot offer to the world, our neighbors, or to God that which we do not possess.
I offer you this, Catholic or not, Lent is a beautiful time to release self criticism and step into a more loving heart, and I’m here to support you. Below is a list of self love exercises that you can use to help foster a compassionate heart.
Daily Acts of Self Love
1. Make Daily Act of Love Cards – You can use index cards or another form of paper stock; Write one act of self love on each card. Use this list of suggestions for inspiration. I would suggest making a deck of at least 14 different cards. Keep the deck next to your bed or somewhere you are sure to see it and pick at random a card every morning.
2. Sing out loud – Turn up the radio or sing from your heart… Sing, hum, let go and let vibe!
3. Do a guided meditation for heart opening, forgiveness, confidence, love…
4. Make a hot cup of tea, coffee, or cocoa and sit alone in a quiet peaceful
place so to enjoy it fully
5. Abhyanga – this is an ayurvedic tradition of self massage. Warm up sesame, grape seed or coconut oil and massage your body with the warm oil. You can massage the scalp, face, and body allowing the oil to absorb for 7-20 minutes. Follow the massage with a warm bath or shower. You can include essential oils to make the experience that much more special. (Check out this article from Banyan Botanicals)
6. Get a manicure – allow yourself to relax and enjoy the service
7. Get a pedicure– allow yourself to relax and enjoy the service
8. Give yourself an at home facial
9. Get a massage
10. Spend 30 minutes doing something you love
11. Light candles/ incense – Enjoy the ambiance
12. Buy yourself flowers
13. Take a bath – Make it extra luxurious with essential oils like Elevate from
14. Play mantra or spa music while you’re working, cleaning, cooking…
15. Read that book you’ve wanted to read/spend 30 minutes leisurely reading
16. Take a class you’ve wanted to try
17. Do something you’ve been putting off
18. Write yourself a love note
19. Make a list of only the qualities you love about yourself – A LOVE LIST
20. Make a list of the things you want to do in your life “Bucket List” of sorts, then think of ways to start checking off the list
21. Post affirmations you love around the house
22. Offer yourself this affirmation: I am enough
23. Offer yourself this affirmation: I am loveable. I am loved. I am loving.
24. Make a list of how you want to feel – A FEELINGS LIST. Break down the list further, what could you do to foster these feelings, get clear. Intend to create a life that allows you to feel the way you want.
25. Make a gratitude list
26. Keep a self love journal – Gala Darling suggests keeping a journal that you record only positive attributes about yourself. Write yourself daily compliments and record compliments you receive.
27. Get a consistent fitness routine - Consistency is key, even if you start with doing a yoga class or walking on the treadmill once a week, do it with consistency. Consistency will lead to habit.
28. Be gentle with yourself, offer yourself compassion
29. Offer yourself this affirmation: I am a child of God and God created all things with Love; I am one with all creation and all was created through Love
30. Choose forgiveness, release guilt
31. Offer yourself a compliment
32. Do something that makes you feel pretty
33. Look at yourself in a mirror, look into your eyes and say “I Love you (YOUR NAME) .” Do this daily until you are able to look at yourself with comfort and ease and able to offer yourself these words with confidence and surety. Even then, continue with this practice.
34. Write about yourself, emphasizing your strengths, achievements, and successes
35. Spend time with family, friends, people who offer you love
37. Make a Happiness List – Make a list of all the things that make you smile and your heart warm
38. Play your favorite song or songs
40. Take a yoga class
41. Try something new
42. Offer yourself this affirmation: I am worthy of love, we are all worthy of love.
43. When you find yourself feeling insecure or not in a loving mood, try this: Taking a deep breath, allow yourself to feel all the emotions that are surfacing – dark and light emotions. Then offer healing to anyone who is feeling the same way you are at that very moment. Exhale an intention for those who are in the same boat as you, offering them peace. So, Inhale awareness of your emotions and exhale a prayer for those who feel the same way as you. By offer peace to others you bring peace upon yourself. It is in giving that we receive.