By Caleigh Bachop.
“I am beautiful.”
The words sound strange – slightly awkward and unfamiliar as I say them aloud to myself in the bathroom mirror each morning. It’s a new practice I’m trying on, adapted from Louise Hay’s You Can Heal Your Life, where she touts the myriad benefits of daily mantras in reconnecting with our true selves and healing our self-esteem.
After taking a Mind Body Medicine class for the past few months I stumbled upon my inner lack of confidence and trust when it came to my body and my appearance. A varsity athlete since high school, I had pushed my body to its limits and demanded high performance for years, and in my constant forward motion and rigorous training schedule, never noticed the gap underlying my outer confidence – inside I was filled with negative self-talk and insecurities that often came out in the form of jealousy and low self-esteem.
After a year of reading, meditating and journaling practices, I am comfortable with the idea of self-love and am pouring it onto myself generously and daily. It’s been a wonderful journey and one that I know I will continue to deepen into and practice for the rest of my life.
The following are some of my rituals for infusing my day to day routine with a dose of self-love:
Meditation: I try to start my day with at least 10 minutes of mindful meditation – focusing on my breath, sitting still in a quiet place and calming my energy for the day ahead. I have an altar in my room with a candle, incense, a small dish of water, and crystals (representing the four elements; fire, air, water and earth) and meditating in front of it makes me feel grounded and relaxed.
Gratitude journal: Before I go to bed each night I make a point of writing down three things I’m grateful for from the day ahead – this keeps me focused on the small awesome moments everyday and tunes me into what’s going well in my life.
Sun salutations: I get on my yoga mat every morning and do at least two sun salutations, no matter how busy I am – it grounds me in my body, connects me to my breath and helps me wake up.
Manicures! I love painting my nails so I try to carve out some time every week or so to relax and give myself a manicure. I don’t think we take enough time to care for ourselves or focus on what brings us pleasure and this is a small way I reclaim time for fun.
Hot ginger tea: In between meals I sip hot ginger tea, made by pouring hot water over sliced, unpeeled raw ginger and adding some honey – this keeps me hydrated, and brings some enjoyment to my work routine.
“I Am Beautiful” mantra: Every time I pass a mirror, I look myself in the eyes and say out loud “I am beautiful.” This felt really weird in the beginning, but it forced me to contemplate how uncomfortable I felt owning my own beauty and celebrating my body. The longer I practice the more comfortable it feels, and now each time I pass a mirror it becomes moment to infuse my day with some joy and self-love and be grateful for my body and all it gives me. It’s helping me develop resilient self-esteem and celebrate the unique beauty in everyone I encounter.
Caleigh Bachop is a third year Morehead-Cain scholar at the University of North Carolina. Born and raised on Vancouver Island she is currently taking a gap year away from school to get grounded on the West Coast, exploring mind body spirit medicine, yoga and meditation. She’s a devoted fan of the RAW beauty movement, joining the growing tribe of women embracing their unique definition of beauty and practicing self-love.