Meditation and mindfulness offer transformative tools that help us journey deeper into our innermost selves with more compassion and caring. This is the essence of self-intimacy.
Here are 5 of my favorite meditation and mindfulness practices for strengthening self love. See if you can add one or two of these practices into your daily routine for sustained self-love and heart-centered growth.
Mindfulness of the Breath: Each breath is like a little love note to yourself.
Mindful breathing is an intuitive and simple practice that cultivates deeper presence and awareness and lands us in the here and now— quickly. Each breath in can be like an energetic ‘kiss’, and each breath out can help you let go of any negative feelings or judgments about yourself.
Find a quiet space where you can sit or lie down comfortably. Listen to this lesson or guide yourself.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath.
Observe the natural rhythm of your inhalation and exhalation.
Breathe in and feel your lungs lift and expand.
Breathe out and notice the gentle release of tension.
Resist the urge to control your breath; instead, let it flow naturally and direct your focus on the sensations of each breath, whether it's the coolness of the inhale or the warmth of the exhale.
When your mind wanders, simply bring your focus back to those beautiful breath sensations.
(5- 10 minutes)
Guided Meditations: Guiding your heart to ‘open’
Guided meditations give you a structured journey into the world of self-discovery, and they make meditation simple, especially for beginners. Choose a theme that aligns with your intentions—self-acceptance, self-confidence, self-compassion, gratitude, or even letting go. There’s a constellation of topics around self-love, and working with any of them can help boost how you feel about yourself.
Settle into a comfortable position where you’ll have minimal distractions. You may want to lie down, or sit up for a quickie self-love tune-up. Close your eyes and follow the guidance of the instructor (ideally using headphones to block noise and keep your focus on the instructions). Try this track.
Allow the words to paint vivid imagery in your mind, to shape your thoughts and to encourage new sensations.
Experiment with different guided meditations to diversify your internal self-love curriculum.
(15- 30 minutes)
HeartMind Journaling: Rewrite the Inner Dialogue
Journaling is such a power tool for self realization and change. There’s a ton of science behind it showing physiological and psychological benefits, and it’s especially effective when you write by hand (yes, with a pen and paper, not that smartphone).
Mindful journaling serves as a therapeutic medium for self-expression and reflection. Writing out your thoughts and feelings clarifies them significantly.
Set aside a dedicated time each day, preferably first thing in the morning when the mind is lucid and distractions are light.
Jot down your thoughts, emotions, reflections and questions. It’s not an exercise in perfection, but an opportunity for truly authentic self-expression. No one is listening but you.
Explore prompts to stimulate your inner love dialogue, such as listing everything you’re grateful for, or detailing your goals and aspirations, or writing about your passions.
Journaling is a personal endeavor, and there are no rules—let your thoughts flow freely. And remember if negative self-talk arises, you can counter it with a positive affirmation, and notice how that feels in your body.
(5- 20 minutes)
Loving-Kindness Meditation: Let your compassion expand
Loving-kindness meditation, or Metta, is a practice where you intentionally send compassion towards yourself, and perhaps others. If you want to start by just giving loving-kindness to yourself for a period (say, the month of February) that’s fine. When you feel your well is full, you can then move on to projecting compassion and care outwards to other people.
Find a comfortable position, either seated or lying down. Start by focusing on your breath, until you feel a sense of calm washing over you. Guide yourself or listen to this track.
Start by telling yourself that you are doing this practice to nourish your own heart and to make it easier to give and receive love.
Then try mentally repeating phrases like the traditional "May I be happy, may I be healthy, may I be safe, may I be at ease."
If and when you feel ready, extend these wishes to include loved ones, acquaintances, strangers…
Visualize waves of love and compassion rippling outward from your heart center, and see if you can feel a sense of interconnectedness.
(10- 30 minutes)
Body Scan Meditation: Embracing self acceptance
A body scan meditation invites a detailed exploration of your current physical sensations, which helps to nurture a more profound connection with your body. The body and mind are intertwined beyond what we realize, and their collective intelligence is often ignored as we stay busy with our lives.
Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can sit upright or lie down. Guide yourself or listen to this track.
Close your eyes and bring your awareness to your toes. Imagine placing your full attention there- every drop of focus, as if nothing else existed.
Gradually move this attention upward, acknowledging each part of your body with the same intentional focus, piece by piece, taking your time.
As you scan each area, try not to judge what comes up, whether it’s a physical sensation or a feeling or memory.
Practice embracing any info that arises without judgment. Remember if nothing makes itself known, just move on to the next. There is nothing to search for. You’re just witnessing what may or may not be there.
Keep accepting each body part or area as it is right now. And send it a message of love and support if you feel inspired.
(10- 20 minutes)
As you embark on your own journey of self-love, these practices can serve as potent tools for transformation. If you resonate with one or two, just do those. If you find them all helpful, then rotate them in your schedule.
Commit to growing your self-love this month. Set up reminders in your calendar. Practice at the same time on the same days of the week. You can even get a buddy to commit to their practice, and stay accountable to one another. Or join a free class on Self Intimacy with me.
With dedication and patience, you can facilitate a profound connection with yourself by looking inside, reflecting and practicing acceptance. These, along with little messages of self love or affirmations of self-compassion, go a long way to help shift your negative self-talk, beliefs and patterns if you integrate these practices into your daily routine. Allow your favorites to unfold naturally and then weave them into the fabric of your life by committing to yourself. With a little practice, inner harmony and an open heart are just a few heartbeats away.
Jessica Crow is the founder of CNTRD Wellness and CNTRD Meditation. She helps people harness the power of meditation and mindfulness to change their lives and the lives of others through practical classes and courses for the everyday practitioner, meditation teacher trainings, and personalized mentorship.
Check out her book 'The Power of Guided Meditation', published by Fair Winds Press and her New On Demand Course 'The Power of Guided Meditation' or anyone who wants to harness the power of meditation in their own lives.