In the name of Valentine’s Day tradition, this year I committed time and attention to the person I care about most: myself. Before you judge me as a vainglorious or narcissistic person, hear me out. After losing myself in — and rediscovering myself after — a series of unhealthy relationships throughout my teens and early twenties, I’ve learned a truth. I must love myself first and foremost before I can fully love another.
This truth connects us with the meaningful theme of self-care, a term I will use interchangeably with self-love. But what qualifies as this generous act? According to Psychology Today, “Self-care is a continuous process of proactively considering and tending to your needs and maintaining your wellness.” In short, it’s an appreciation of one’s own worth or virtue; a mindset which can be viewed as healthy and far-removed from selfish.
You may argue that self-care is a trendy buzzword, but I will counter-argue that it’s anchored in the zeitgeist. I view it as a refreshing mental shift from the self-doubt of impostor syndrome so many of us are plagued with. Herein lies another truth: Comparison is the thief of joy.
To stop comparing myself (to yoga teachers on social media, to community leaders with more advanced college degrees) and discover true joy, I must envelope myself wholly as an act of self-love.
While traversing my path of self-love and care, I find an online Valentine’s Day masterclass in how love created from the inside is able to manifest more love on the outside. This Empowered Extrasensory class is the perfect way to pass a love-centric holiday. In fact, the name Valentine is derived from a Latin word “valens,” meaning worthy, strong or powerful — all proclamations of self-love that align perfectly with an hour-long virtual empowerment course.
Prerequisites include a willingness to show up as I am with an open heart. Sounds like a life mantra I might adopt for 2021.
As I tune into the virtual Valentine’s Day Empowered Extrasensory class from home, along with a handful of other participants, our guide explains what “extrasensory” means. In simplest terms, since extra means outside or beyond, extrasensory is defined as beyond the senses. According to ancient systems, each chakra is associated with one of the five senses and beyond, hence the extrasensory branding.
After verbalizing the masterclass outline, she initiates the core activity of the masterclass — a meditation focusing on and balancing our rainbow of chakras.
The root chakra is associated with the sense of smell, so we are instructed to light a scented candle while focusing on warmth it evokes. Moving upwards, toward the sacral chakra, she asks us to savor the taste of something. Since the sacral chakra is associated with the color orange, I sip on immune-strengthening citrus turmeric tea, which also creates a warming sensation, but this time from the inside.
Next is the solar plexus, which is connected to our sense of sight. Our guide suggests staring at the flame of the candle, which for some reason pushes me out of my comfort zone. Instead, I recline onto the security of my yoga mat, close my eyes and re-envision my goals for the year. I have to remember this practice is all about me, and since my video is turned off I can take this meditation in any direction.
Then comes the heart chakra, which links us to our sense of touch. Our guide proposes we gently rub the soles of our feet as an act of self-care, followed by covering them with a pair of our warmest socks. As we make our way up to the throat chakra, we focus on our breathing and initiate a technique called lion’s breath — a practice thought to help relieve tension, eliminate toxins, and stimulate the area of the throat associated with the communication.
If you’ve been counting, you’ll see this concludes the five basic senses, all of which send information to the brain to help us better understand the world around us.
Stepping beyond the basic five and into the extrasensory, we bring our awareness to sixth chakra — which you may have heard referred to as our third eye, located between our eyebrows. This area is associated with the pineal gland, located in the middle of the brain, and resembles the pine cone for which its name is derived.
In ancient symbolism, the pine cone alludes to spiritual illumination for this reason. Here I recall artist Thom Thoune’s pine cone structures that frame the North Wendover Road police station and wonder what the connection is.
Lastly we reach savasana, or corpse pose. Savasana typically marks the end of a physical yoga practice, allowing our heart rate, breath and body temperature to return to normal before returning to our daily tasks off the mat. Savasana also helps to calm and balance the crown chakra, which allows us to be fully connected spiritually. Notice the crown chakra is not associated with a sense, but is the center of consciousness, which processes the combined input of all the other chakras.
As our meditation concludes, I can’t help but wonder if I’m walking away vibrating at a higher frequency of love. While I’m not necessarily able to measure the hertz of my being post-class to confirm, the law of attraction implies that if we want to manifest more love, we must come from a place of love where we express benevolent qualities — compassion, empathy, understanding, respect — all states of consciousness that free us from limiting beliefs and actions that curtail spiritual growth. Sometimes it’s nice just to be reminded of this, even if it means spending Valentine’s Day alone.
Read past Seeker columns here.
Become part of the Nerve: Get better connected and become a monthly donor to support our mission and join thousands of Charlotteans by subscribing to our email newsletter. If you’re looking for the arts in Charlotte, subscribe to the paper for the most in-depth coverage of our local scene.