When I graduated from college, I decided to spend a year long residency at the Kripalu Center to deepen my understanding of yoga and meditation. I remember one the first exercises when I entered Kripalu was to write down my goal. I quickly wrote down on my little green sheet of paper ‘to open my heart.’ At the time, I knew I wanted to be able to feel more deeply, to empathize more deeply with myself and others, and to be open to relationships. What I did not know at the time was that the key to opening my heart was found inside my own heart.
Sometimes, we look outside of ourselves for forgiveness or love. But we can not truly embrace love until we commit to first loving ourselves. Love…it’s a strong emotion. Advances in science are giving us the research to prove the importance of this mighty emotion. We all need love to survive and thrive. Love nourishes our brains.
We release oxytocin and dopamine hormones when we feel love. These hormones cause us to feel good. We can release these hormones not only through big acts such as loving making but through everyday moments such as thinking loving thoughts. When we feel love, we also stimulate the vagus nerve which regulates all of our major bodily functions from digestion to breathing.
So how about sending yourself some loving thoughts? The key to accepting love and opening your heart, lies within. May we all love ourselves in this very moment just as we are.