February is a month of love, but how often do you nourish your relationship with yourself? We’ve spoken to our favorite self-care gurus about their favorite ways to boost their self-love: you deserve your attention as much as anyone else.
Today we speak with sound practitioner, Elizabeth Ferry, on how meditation, sound baths, and mindful practices are essential to self-love.
Splendid Spoon: What does self-love mean to you?
Elizabeth Ferry: Self-love is the result of embracing self-care, and developing a nurturing, nourishing relationship with the whole self. Self-compassion is a form of self-love, and all living creatures flourish from compassion. When we practice mindfulness with self-compassion, we welcome in self-love.
One of the ways we can practice self-compassion is through paying attention to how we speak to ourselves. Almost nothing is in our control, but the way you speak to yourself is. This is where mindfulness comes in. We’re not here to judge ourselves; we’re here to pay attention, support, and accept ourselves unconditionally. These moments are acts of self-love, and the effects of these moments are cumulative.
SS: Meditation is a grounding form of self-love and discovery. Why did you first start meditating?
EF: Meditation has been an integral part of many yogic traditions and contemplative practices I’ve been fortunate enough to study. I also use painting and singing as meditation, following the lead of artists like Agnes Martin and Meredith Monk. Meditation is a grounding, centering form of self-love. I’m grateful for these practices and my teachers.
SS: Creating time to meditate can be a challenge! How do you recommend people start?
EF: Look at it as an investment in your time. And be gentle and kind to yourself: know that the mind will wonder, because that is the nature of the mind.
Sound meditations are a good way to start. The sound actually helps slow and soothe the mind, and initiates a relaxation response. [We love to recommend people start with a mindful eating practice. Connecting meditation to something you already do everyday can make it easier to stick to! — Ed.]
SS: How will a meditation practice change our relationship with ourselves?
EF: It’s a secret ingredient which uncovers thought patterns, and reveals the bidirectional relationship of thought and bodily response. It’s a nourishing, deep, attentive listening.
SS: What self-care rituals do you practice?
EF: I follow three guiding, basic essentials; getting enough rest, eating well, and movement (preferably outside). I live in New York City, so seeking out a bit of nature is paramount. Bringing a little nature inside the apartment is nice too — I love having fresh flowers on the table!
SS: Can you share a mindfulness practice or meditation we can practice to increase our sense of self-love and nourish our body and mind?
EF: Sure! Simple moments of connection to yourself are sometimes all you need to reset. An on-the-spot meditation you can do anywhere: guide your attention to your breath. Feel the coolness of the air as it enters your nostrils. Notice the warmth on the exhale.
Another simple meditation is to envision a compassionate image. Maybe it’s the sun. Imagine the rays nourishing your body with its warmth. Let any tensions in the face melt away. Scan your body for where you can release any tightness: let tensions loosen with the imagined warmth of the image of the sun.
And one more practice you can try is listening to your environment, one element at a time. Listen without judging or labeling. Just notice how your body is in relation to the sound.
Any time you connect to your breath and your body, you are being mindful. Those moments you attend to yourself in that way are the charm :).