A crucial part of discovering what it means to love ourselves is finding our capacity to step into our larger self, what I am calling going to a higher level or altitude of consciousness. To do this, we must step out of our emotional or mental self, and step into the part of ourselves that can love and embrace all of our flaws or struggles.
To master this capacity, it is helpful to find ways to practice regularly. There are two things that I have been doing that help me step into my larger self.
The first exercise is to practice loving. I do this by picking an object, a beautiful rock or a flower, or anything else that speaks to me. I intentionally choose something with slight imperfections. I start appreciating it, begin pouring my loving into it, recognizing the beauty and preciousness of it. This is the practice of developing your capacity for love. By recognizing that you can intentionally generate your loving and appreciation for something outside of yourself, you are developing that capacity within yourself. As you get better at it, you can start extending it to things around you all the time. Everything that exists is worthy of love.
The second activity for deepening the capacity for self-love can be done at any time of the day, though I do it at night. As I prepare for bed and get ready to sleep, I step into my larger self and hold myself in the same consciousness that I would hold a stone from the beach. I think about the person who has gone through the day, about what happened mentally, physically, and emotionally and then I just hold him in deep acceptance. In the same way that I can love a stone from the beach or a flower from the garden, I can appreciate this imperfect person in all his aspects. And thus, recognize the beauty of self by going beyond the judgmental part of myself.
This is a different process from what we do in the Mountain or the Freedom Experience. This is not so much about getting better, but more about practicing having unconditional love for ourselves. In a way, it is a step towards reaching the Want-for-Us level. While it is very hard to do if in a lot of mental pain, it is separate from letting go and self-acceptance. In fact, it is of a higher order. Practicing this type of self-loving will support the experience of altitude throughout your life.
To learn more about altitude listen to my podcast: Life at Altitude.