Rule # 1: Fall for Yourself
Lying awake in my bed after midnight, I try to distract myself with the quintessential Karachi sounds of discordant honking vehicles. My parched throat leads me to get out of bed and gaze at the full moon shining out the window.
“I’ll be fine,” I whisper to myself.
I’ll be fine.
I place a hand over my chest and feel my racing heartbeat. Sometimes I wish the pain inside me was tangible so that I can examine it in its entirety: love, thoughts, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, unforgetting. The unstitched wounds of my past fester, gnawing my soul. No matter wherever I live, I can only heal if I dare to deal with my inner critical voice.
I wish my sorrow could be a form on its own that does not instigate reactions from other parts of my body. Something that could be monitored with an instrument like an electrocardiograph machine to visualize the peaks and troughs in my brain. The doctors would understand the graph by labelling it with an imprinted memory of my past. Not by analysing the incomprehensible neurotransmitters: Dopamine. Norepinephrine. Serotonin, etc.
Although there is no instant method to break free of this excruciating state of inner reclusiveness, I realized that I would have to make conscious decisions to walk the tightrope between clashing perspectives of embracing myself and how I am perceived.
I switched on my night lamp and read out a note on my bedside table:
- I have the power to choose and realign my energies with joy and gratitude.
- I am “enough” to love myself.
- I will not associate specific circumstances with loving myself.
- I do not need to prove myself to anyone.
- God is greater than my worries.
This is an act of self-love that I am consciously practising. To value my wants, not just needs, and reciprocate those experiences to myself that I was not allowing myself before. It is about listening to oneself. Should I wait for years for someone to say, “I love you”, “I long to be with you?” Instead, I can say these words to myself right now. Not only do I say them, but I also try to believe and remind myself that I need to have faith in myself to reinforce these notions.
Self is one’s being, one’s unique personality and interests, and love is the affectionate attachment. So if I don’t love myself, I may not be aware of my existence and would lose the power of choice, absorbing all the negative critique coming my way. Only if I love myself, I can fulfill nature’s purpose of my existence and unfold my full potential.
These acts do not have to be selfish.
These acts do not have to be selfish. In search of treating myself, I rummaged through my kitchen cabinets for my “new” tea set that was now relatively old. If I can reserve these exquisite porcelain utensils to serve my friends and family, I can surely avail myself of them as well.
My experience of having morning tea transformed. I gently picked up the kettle, admiring the violets and pink daisies carefully hand-painted on them. Pouring the tea, I listened to the sound of the liquid cascading from the spout and settling into the cup. This naturally became a practice of gratitude. I was not explicitly thanking God, but I enjoyed the present moment, admiring the details which I would have missed otherwise. Being still in the moment followed innumerable joys: the fragrance of my tea, the warmth of the teacup in my hands and the creamy taste of sweet milk with cardamom.
Over a few days, this ritual became a tea meditation for me, to which I eventually incorporated saying a prayer I understood in my own words. Just as I was repeating my affirmations, I had an epiphany: “I do not want to be at any other stage of my life, except this.”
I realized that through the daily practice of careful selection of thoughts, a deep expression of compassion and gratitude goes beyond superficial acts of saying “sorry” or “thank you”. It means observing these values through actions and being conscious of what one imbibes. What exists in my mind is through external influences, but only I have the power to internalize and believe.