The business of self-love. 40 day challenge.

Forty day spiritual practice is a powerful technique of self renewal.

Six weeks long practice of owercoming bad habits and transforming our lives holds both a mystical and practical significance in many areas of our life.

But what is it exactly and does it work?

My spiritual teacher and friend Aldona uses the power of creative visualization and meditation to gracefully receive objects of her desire, often against all odds and common sense. She transformed her body, healed brain tumor, bought a dream house, always using the 40 day principle.

The science cheers the idea of doing something for 40 days. That is because our brain require about that much time to rewire itself, 20 days are needed to break free from self-sabotaging patterns, 20 to replace those overthrown habits with new better ones. 

In Judaism, there’s a mystical practice that says one who seeks an answer to their prayers should pray the same prayer request for 40 consecutive days.  Jesus spent 40 days on the desert for the same reason, to renew, to change old patterns, to better self. 
In many cultures and religions around the world, a new mother is confined to her home for 40 days after she has given birth. This is a sacred time for her to regain strength and to develop a bond with a baby.
If we want to be reborn like a Phoenix, we need to burn those pesky habits into ashes, overcome the things that halt our growth, that make us sick, tired, unhappy, burn them into ashes. Than lift ourselves up renewed, reborn, and self-realized. To accomplish that kind of feat, we need lo love ourselves first, before anything and anyone ales. 
The not-so-easy business of self - loving
Self-love is a difficult job. We tend to lose contact with our-self many times in a lifetime. We repeat old patterns, develop new bad habits, discover deeper layers of unresolved issues, unrealized problems and traumas from the past. That’s normal. That’s life. Self-love is about giving self the right things, not the easier things, choosing what’s better for us, not what feels better for instant gratification, it’s about making harder decision NOW, so life can get easier. Being good to yourself is a sweaty business, a long distance marathon that requires a clear goal, a perseverance and lots of water. 

Without self – love we can’t love the world around. You can’t pour from the empty.  Easier said than done. Right? We were often told as kids to put others first, and we were taught that being good to yourself is egoistic ego maniacal behavior that should be avoided. 

It is important to note, that loving self and being in love with yourself in a narcissistic fashion, that means having an inflated sense of self and use that as an excuse to overspend, overeat or overdo on anything, are two different things. The first one is about being good to your body, respectfully listening to your needs, putting on healthy boundaries, saying no (or yes) if it serves your best interests and allows you to grow. The second is more like loving an false image of self, a mask instead of reality. It does not serves your highest purpose. 

What’s next? 

You know what you need to do, don’t you?  In which area of your life have you not been kind to yourself? What calls for attention? What is that you're neglecting? This is a hard question and the answer might be equally difficult to accept. How can you give yourself without a guilt, give yourself more time, money, space without fear?
There is a second mind in you. Your first mind is the operational system that runs your errands, talks to your husband, makes a list of groceries, answers the phone, reads this blog, you get it. Your second mind is a chit-chat in a background. Listen, it is there. It could be a background song, distant conversation, or a loud voice of your mother. What will your second mind say if you decide to give yourself a true loving experience? Will it say: o c'mon. You can’t! you’re too weak, too old, to stupid, to fat, you don't have the time, money, space, courage...

Will it laugh at you? Will it do anything to convince you don't have the gut, the support, the wit? You can bet it will. It will put a doubt in your mind. Not right away perhaps. As soon as your first enthusiasm dies down, after you’ve been practicing for a week or two. It will show up to tell you that this whole business of self-loving is pointless. It's boring. It leads nowhere. It will make you feel like crap. You can bet it will.
Listen to what the voice has to say, thank him, and say: you are wrong. No discussions. No self explaining. No justification. Just keep going. Your second mind’s insecurity is a sign you are on the right track. Your are doing great. You are annihilating the bastard. Whey to go, Phoenix!


What can you do to successfully practice the art of self-love?

That is a very personal question, but there are some universal tricks to get it done. Most importantly give yourself time to experience the change. After all we have a whooping 40 days! 

Listen to your intuition & be kind to yourself

The inner whisper, aka the gut feeling, will guide you through the first baby steps. It will be more like an impulse, probably an irrational one, strange or scary. It might tell you to do something new, something you haven't done before. It might ask you to leave your comfort zone. That's a good sign. You need to leave your castle walls to conquer yourself.  Change loves change. After you learn to listen to that voice, it will be easier and easier to follow its guidance. 

Maybe you want to change your body, loose some pounds, look better? You don't need those J.Lo abs by this Friday, do you? (although that would be nice). Start simple, use your favorite music and dance. Breath, stretch, do simple yoga or use a You Tube channel to guide you through exercise routine, Pilates, Tai-chi or whatever makes you feel good and gives you energy. Let your body feel itself. It's about making your brain remember how does it feel to care. Great abs will follow if that is your desire. Just remember: repetition is the key. We are reprogramming your brain here. 

Understand what is that you need

Have you been so busy, you don't know how to reconnect with your own needs, how to find out where you are in life?
There are few ways to get in touch with yourself. Here are my few favorites. 

A goddess bath. Because bathing is a personal biz and nobody usually asks the question why are you an a tub, it is a great escape from ordinary. All you need to do is create an extraordinary environment. Light some candles, incense, add few drops of rose or lavender essential oil into the water, or put on your favorite music and lock the door. This is your time! I honestly bring to the bathroom a deck of tarot cards and a pile of books. The mere idea of having them around is comforting to me. I disappear for 30 minutes reading or not reading.  And the world is still standing when I am out. Your's will too.

Morning Pages

If you have a hard time removing the piles of overwhelming thoughts I suggest practicing the morning pages. This exercise has helped me immensely to figure out what is that I actually want, fell, despite, desire, hate and love. And it surprised me on more than one occasion. It is a very accurate self guiding device. From what I hear it helped millions of other people as well.

The Morning pages is an exercise in which you write down your thoughts for about 30 minutes (3 large pages of paper), every morning, before you get busy with your routine. You write everything that comes to mind. Even silly things like: must buy cat food, my boss is a total jerk, I wish I could go to that amazing bakery, Cheryl got a new boyfriend, what a bummer. Just anything. After the initial junk that comes out of your head ( you have unnecessary junk there, trust me), you will dig into deeper stuff. Your personal thoughts, wishes, desires and unaddressed problems will start coming to the surface. do it every morning for 40 days. Results will surprise you. Important note: Morning pages are just for you. No one is allowed to read them, and you don't want to share those with anyone. They are YOUR remedy.
If you would like to know more about morning pages and other  amazing ways to expand, I recommend a book by Julia Cameron - The Artist's Way. She is explaining in detail about morning pages in this fabulous book. 

Make the time

What if you don't have the time for all those cute things because you're really deam busy mom of four with a full time job and a seven after school activities that you need to take your kids to? You have a dog, two cats, a parrot and your youngest just brought a bunny (and she loves the deam thing to death). 

I understand. Your situation looks pretty grim and there is no way out of it. Oh wait, but there is!
It is possible to find the time, like something valuable we lost and we thought we will never ever be able to find again. Trust me, you can squeeze out that 30 minutes a day for yoga, morning pages, a walk or your self-love goddess bath. You can get e bit of extra time for your writing, painting, jogging, by doing less of what is less important than you. Cut down on TV time, get up 30 minutes earlier, or turn off Facebook. Write down how much time you spend on social media, how much time goes to waist by doing things that you don't really need to do, like taking many breaks for cigarette, or dropping by Starbucks on the way to work, which takes extra 15 minutes? Ask for help with kids, dishes, errands, homework. Asking for help is extremely difficult, but you will be surprised how many people will volunteer to help, how amazing it might be to overcome that personal fear of rejection. It is a life lesson in itself.  You need to say:I need 30 minute. and that's it. 

Creative visualisation 

Creative visualization is a very helpful tool. Books have been written about the topic, but there are 3 simple rules that will help you to avoid possible pitfalls when doing that exercise. 

1. Your affirmation should be simple and clear. It has to work for you. Don't use words that sound strange or not natural. What works for one person doesn't need to work for you. 

2. Affirmations are constructed in present tense and can't include a negative sentence.
I am Happy. not: I am not sad.
I am fulfilled! not: I am not struggling any more.
I am healthy! not: I am not sick.

3. You need to believe it. You need to fill yourself up with exciting  images of being there, doing that. As if the things you wish for are already here. It is only the matter of time (of the ominous 40 days?) before what's in your heart is yours in reality.

Set your goals and do that thing you've been thinking about, follow that desire you've been neglecting. Give yourself time, space and loving attention. Breath. Breath. Breath.

Might the loving force be with you.

May your journey be filled with self love adventures 
and everlasting fulfillment. 


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