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Believing In Yourself: The Conduit to Self-Love


silhouette of woman with muscular arms raised standing in front of a sunrise


The path of radical affirmation includes believing in yourself. Although difficult, believing in yourself has the power to heal all wounds and becomes a valuable conduit to self-love, and to going deeper into the heart. 


When I first began teaching yoga over 43 years ago, I had a lot of anxiety. It was mainly around public speaking.


I was really afraid of what others would say about me. That really mattered to me back then. I didn’t believe in myself. 

I would be extremely anxious before class. Often, I was so nervous, I couldn’t sleep the night before. At Kripalu, my first class was a resident sadhana class with over 80 Kripalu residents, most with more yoga experience than me. I was a wreck. 


At the end of the class, they would all just leave the room without any comments or connection with me. I thought, “Was I that bad? What did I do wrong? I’m a horrible teacher. No one likes me. I want to quit. I’m not enough. I’m not worthy.” All of my negative thoughts and emotions streamed through my mind.


man with head down on crossed arms

Then, one day, I noticed one person waiting for me at the back of the room. It was Indra, a dear and trusted friend. He saw that I was deflated, and he looked right into my eyes, gave me a huge smile, and said, “That was a great class!” 


I lit up. All of sudden I felt better. That’s all I needed to hear because my belief in myself was almost non-existent.


I wasn’t able to self-soothe. I wasn’t able to appreciate myself. I couldn’t find one thing that was good about my class. But Indra helped me see that it wasn’t all bad. He loved me when I couldn’t love myself. He believed in me when I couldn’t believe in myself. His belief in me helped me believe in myself. 


Don Stapleton, meditation and yoga teacher

I’m so fortunate to have had teachers and mentors who believed in me more than I believed in myself. Don Stapleton, who passed last fall, was one of those mentors. I’m so grateful to have had his love and support during my formative years of training to become a yoga teacher. 



Reflection: (Suggested practice: Read the reflection below, and reflect on your answers, or do some journal writing as you go along.)


1. Come to a comfortable seated position. Take a few breaths. With every inhalation, invite the light of the universe to fill you. With every exhalation, let go.


2. Without any judgment, reflect on the level or degree to which you believe in yourself. Do you have a strong belief in you? Or is there something else there? Is there anything in the way of your self-belief like doubt, fear, or the feeling of lack? 


Many of us live under the burden of shame from our past – the shame that tells us we aren’t good enough or that we lack something, we are unworthy. Negative thoughts flood our mind with non-acceptance, I’m not okay, I’m not enough. In the Tantra, these negative beliefs are called Malas (or dust on the surface of the heart.) 


The primary mala, Anava Mala, is the belief of lack, I’m not enough. Something’s missing. Breathe into this negative belief. 


3. What do you think you lack? What are the specific qualities you don’t have? Take a moment to reflect on this so that you can see it clearly. Bring softness and compassionate space to yourself and this feeling of lack. It’s real because you are experiencing it. However, it is only dust that can be removed. 


In Tantra, we can’t actually get rid of our Anava Mala because, although it can hold us back, it also plays a significant role in moving us forward. If we never felt any lack, we wouldn’t experience the longing to have more, be more. Also, the Anava Mala is one of the last threads of limitation and separation that keeps us embodied as individual beings on the planet. We see the Anava Mala as a gift of embodiment that gives us the contrast to ignite our longing for something greater. 


For example, when you’re sick, and if you’ve ever been sick for a longer time than normal, it can motivate you to want to feel well again. I remember last time I was sick, it was the flu, not Covid. Still, it lasted more than three weeks. My cough just wouldn’t go away. But it made me long for good health again, which I finally achieved after about four weeks.


4. Feel into the longing you have in your heart. What are you longing for? Try to touch the essence of your longing and breathe into it. Allow your longing to grow. See the goodness associated with longing to be full again, longing to find your joy again.


5. Locate in your body where your feeling of lack lives. Is it in your belly? In your heart? Your hips? When you locate the specific area of the body, breathe into it. Visualize the area. Infuse your breath with acceptance and compassion for your struggles. Then breathe acceptance and love into these areas that feel lack. 


6. Visualize a healing glowing golden light surrounding that area. Allow the light to fill you to the brim and then overflow to cover your entire body. Allow yourself to be surrounded by a glowing golden light of healing energy. Stay in this healing glow for as long as you wish.


7. Over time and with practice you will begin to believe in yourself. You are worth it. You are worthy. You have everything you need already inside of you. You are already whole and complete. The universe already knows that. She already believes in you. Can you believe in yourself? If not, can you believe in her belief in you?


8. Bring your attention to your belly. Imagine the sun’s rays inside your belly shining out from core to periphery. Let this light shine out to every organ, every cell, and every synapse with the belief in you – the same belief that grace has for you; and that those who love you have for you (perhaps your parents, a mentor, teacher, or a friend). 



two people hugging

We need to embrace the parts of ourselves that are lacking and give them love. Otherwise, we tend to turn around and do to ourselves what others did to us. We tend to shame, judge, and punish ourselves. 


The path of radical affirmation is to actually affirm ourselves and learn how to step into the seat of belief in ourselves. We want to cultivate a belief in ourselves so strong that nothing and no one can take that away from us. 


We become unshakable in our belief in ourself – a belief not set in our outer accomplishments, but rather a belief set from a deep inner connection to source. When we’re in our source, there’s no room for doubt, because it’s all the light of belief. At the same time, we soften the heart with acceptance that we are perfectly imperfect just as we are.


When you believe in yourself, you stop fighting yourself. You accept yourself and you accept what is. This opens the heart. 


As heart followers, we need to become warriors of the heart and to believe in ourselves even when the odds are against us. That’s the test. When we believe in ourself, anything is possible. Doors open.


Belief joins us to ourself. Doubt separates us. In doubt, it’s very difficult to stand in and for ourself. So, we leave. With belief, we stick around. We don’t abandon ourself or run away.


woman sitting in yoga pose in front of a building

During the practice of Ashaya Yoga, we use every breath to build a stronger belief in ourself. There’s no end to how deeply we can believe in ourself. 


I believe in you because I believe in life.

It’s not like life is a journey of total suffering and darkness and at the end you’re just dead. The journey of life is a sacred ritual of awakening to the mysteries and miracles of life. These are revealed when you are more in the flow, more in the current of grace. And this requires you to believe in yourself.


When you believe in yourself, you will naturally increase your sense of self-worth and confidence. Often, when your confidence increases, you attract more success. The universe may even reward you with fame or material wealth.


But the path of radical affirmation is not about outer accomplishments. When you believe in yourself, you step into a realm of consciousness where you’re aware of your soul. You’re aware of your purpose. You’re aware of the power of the presence of love. And there is nothing higher than love. 


Belief is the conduit for self-love. So open that conduit wide now and let the light pour through the conduit of belief into your heart. Let it flow into your whole body like a warm glowing blanket of light filled with acceptance, total acceptance, with love, total love, for all of your parts – both the parts you like and the parts you don’t like. Grace does not discriminate. 


woman with rainbow projection on her face and arms

Let your whole body be infused with the light of radical affirmation. Receive. Absorb. Digest. Assimilate. Act.


When you believe in yourself, doubt shrinks.


Doubt is like a hurdle and when you have a strong belief in self, the hurdle is low, not a big deal. Eventually the doubt dissolves enough so that it can’t stop you.


May you expand the belief in yourself. May you wrap yourself in the whole cloth of love like a beautiful tapestry of light. May you remember that you are a one of a kind miraculous being. There is no one like you on this planet. And you are here to let your unique light shine regardless of the reviews, regardless of the critics.


You are worthy. I love you. I believe in you. I believe in your ability to grow your belief in yourself and to be the beautiful, radiant, fulfilled being you were meant to be!


Namaste,


Todd



Affirmations for Believing in Yourself:

  • I believe in myself.

  • I believe in my own longing for something greater.

  • I believe in my heart and when I let go, my heart will guide me. 

  • I believe in goodness. 

  • I believe that that goodness, although sometimes buried, is deep in my heart.

  • I allow myself to get out of my own way now. To let the goodness of light shine with belief in my heart.

  • The light of belief is so bright that it dissolves all shadow of doubt, all shadow of darkness.

  • I accept myself so deeply that even if there is a shadow of doubt that it inspires me even more to rise up, to stand in and for myself.

  • I bow to my doubt because it shows me where I haven’t loved myself yet. 

  • May I bring love and acceptance to those shadow places.

  • May I increase the belief in myself, the belief in others. Ultimately, it’s the belief in life, that life has my back, that everything in life is for my awakening. 

  • And may I repeat the above to myself over and over again, and especially in times when my belief wanes.






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