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  • Chelsea Liley

Self-love & SpiRitUaLiTy

Yes I said that like the SpongeBob meme, because as much as I am spiritual, you still need to be able to make fun of it sometimes too, to address and unpack the negatives and harmful patterns within it. Because as beautiful and soul-defining as spirituality is, everything has their faults, it can be a dark and twisted trap; a black hole masquerading as enlightenment, a vicious vice that will tell you what you can and can’t be, will enforce a hierarchy on you and tell you that woke is the only way, and only my type of woke. But it’s not. Spirituality creates this dogma, this false set of principles, this rhetoric of love and light. It creates this belief that we are all one and yet says that because I’m spiritual I’m better than you. It bypasses the need to be human, for human feeling - the nitty gritty, the reality, the dirty and uncomfortable. It says to practice presence, and to focus on the good in life while simultaneously telling you that there is a good and bad way to be spiritual. That there are good and bad feelings, that your rage isn’t welcome here because it isn’t ‘your highest self’ and anything to do with the thinking mind or binge watching Netflix is negative.

Seriously get the fuck out of my face with that bullshit because I’m over it. Netflix is self-love! My mind is still self-love! My anger is still fucking self-love! I do not have to be some hippy-pant-wearing, crystal-toting, do-gooder that preaches about reflections and looking within. Sometimes I just want to be lazy, wear my sweatpants all day and eat junk food. Sometimes I’m judgmental and narcissistic and a bit of a bitch. Sometimes people suck and sometimes the world sucks – and I think that is pretty evident, especially right now. But you can’t just avoid the issue by closing your eyes and chanting a mantra - you have to feel the shitty feelings and address the shitty world. Sometimes you have to stand up and be loud and political and not very spiritual, because that is what is needed. Sometimes it’s not about reflecting in, or seeing a purpose within everything; sometimes reality hits and you just need to be a fucking human. You just need to get angry because someone actually just fucked you over and that’s not okay, because sometimes love and light won’t fix it and some people just need a slap in the face. Lovingly.


Spirituality to me isn’t defined by the elephant pants you bought in Bali, or how much yoga you do. Spirituality is a belief, it is a mindset, it is how you see the world and how you make meaning of it, it is the essence of being human. Within that every human is spiritual. Spirituality is more than just religion, God or the Universe, though it’s definitely those too. It’s finding your purest beliefs down to your core about what you want this world to look like, who you are, and where you belong. It is how you make meaning of yourself in this world - little tiny you in this big bad place. That there is no single God or religion, because all of them have some part of it right, but in the end I am God. This is my world, and my life, and I am the God of it, just like you are of yours. In the end we all die, and become reborn and the cycle goes on and on and on, and whatever energy it is that is behind all this, the energy behind the pure fact that we are alive, continues on and repeats again and that is what God is. Because I believe that is all it comes down to.


Spirituality is the fact that, yes we are spiritual beings having a human experience, but you’ve still got to enjoy the human experience too; you still have to be on this earth, in this reality, because if you go too far into the ether no one is going to understand you anyway. You are a body that feels, a brain that thinks and a soul that just is. It’s your beliefs about human rights, and humanity as a whole, the world as one big giant entity and what that means to you. It’s more than just rituals and prayer, it’s about the way your brain works and how the chemicals in your body understand the world it lives in on a cellular level. It is about finding that bridge between soul world and real world and learning how to live in the middle. Learning when to wear the Bali pants and enjoy life and live in the moment, but also when to come back to reality and the realness. It is the creation of a world that doesn’t just eradicate or bypass emotions and feelings, and the destruction of the mind-centred egotistical world we live in now – it is the union of the mind and the body. The learning and interweaving of utilising both, of understanding that each has a role to play and a time to listen, knowing when to analyse, plan and understand, and also when to drop in and feel and express. It is the realisation that we need both, because fuck we have both. It is the integration of mind, body and soul, so that we can live from the heart. Our true heart. Once we live from that space life becomes easy, it comes out like instinct. We know who we are and how we feel, what we want to say and how we want to interact with the world. Our true self becomes natural.


My spirituality believes in the one world, believes in our future and the creation of one state, with one universal dollar, where all humans are treated as equal, and we each have the ability and opportunity to chase our human rights, to chase our pleasures and the pursuit of happiness, however that looks for us. My spirituality believes that pleasure is the highest good in every single fucking way and that we got put on this earth do to more than just sit at our desks, with our 9-5 jobs and have meaningless, pleasure-less and stress-inducing lives. That the meaning behind living is to find your own unique you, your own kind of happiness, your own pleasure. It looks different for everyone, and that is why spirituality cannot turn in a direction of labels, shoulds and should nots, rights and wrongs, because that defeats the whole purpose. It creates separation when all we really crave is connection, connection to our self, connection to our world, connection to something bigger than us. But find what you love and run with it, that is all that spirituality says. Do no harm and take no shit. Find your place in this huge world, and live in a way that leads you there, that leads the world there, to a place where we can find harmony. And maybe that’s me getting on my hippy dippy bull shit but it is what I believe. Maybe we won’t see it this generation, but maybe our kids will, or even our kid’s kids. But one day, there will be a world where humans live purely as humans, however that looks for them.


This brings me nicely to self-love because it ties in with the whole idea of spirituality. In learning to love yourself, you learn to love others, and in creating this cycle you heal the goddamn world. Self-love is becoming so goddamn self-aware of who you really are on the deepest level, understanding your own soul and learning to express that part of you into the world, and love the real you that comes out of it. I have worked hard to find who I am again, to come back to the real me, the 4-year old me before I went through all the hurt and rejection and tried to present someone to the world I thought would be liked, someone who hopefully wouldn’t get hurt. I am proud to say that I goddamn fucking know me and love me, my big, bright and bubbly soul that takes up too much room, laughs too loud, and can scare you or entice you with just a look. She is comfortable and familiar within joy, pleasure and bliss, those feelings are her home, but she wears every colour of the rainbow, the light and the dark, and if you get trapped in her, you're in for a ride to the darkest depths of her love. My soul that bites her lip and sways her hips like the bad bitch that she is, she is cheeky and she is sassy and she is oh so confident because she doesn’t give a shit about what you say, she is here to rock some boats and she’s holding her own goddamn hand through it all. That is why I think this work is so important; to learn who you are and how to love yourself so that you don't need others to do it for you.

And it all takes practice, but as you start to uncover the layers it becomes easier to love yourself, and it becomes easier to love others, see the good in others, appreciate and respect others, and then this world will look a whole lot brighter, and a whole lot nicer. Again, it’s the same concept that there is no right or wrong way to love yourself, but you’ve just gotta do it, because who wants to live a life stuck with a person they don’t really like? For me, self-love is the process of stripping back all the layers and learning who you really are, and then consequently and continuously learning how to be that person, love that person, forgive them, appreciate them, respect them and honour them. Self-love is the ideas of self-esteem, confidence, body-love, self-awareness and self-worth all rolled into one.


Self-love is giving a big middle fucking finger to anything that isn’t 100% you. Self-love isn’t saying I’m the best, it’s about saying I am both the best and the worst at the same time but I am me. It’s about learning that even your bad and ugly feelings are a part of you. All the anger, rage, despair, heartbreak, attention-seeking behaviours and crazy, are all a part of you. Because in actual fact your true self, your ‘highest self’ is just a big jumble of all the good and the bad that makes up you. No one is perfect so stop trying to be. Just learn to be the best you that you can be, learn to recognise and re-direct when your negative patterns start to show up, and how to forgive yourself when they do. Learn what your feelings are trying to tell you, because if you are angry or upset, there is a deeper pain that is being triggered and calling out to be seen, heard, felt and honoured. Because self-love is saying I am going to have to experience shit feelings and that is okay. Self-love is learning not to reject a single part of you, no matter how ugly you deem it. And most importantly, self-love isn’t saying I’m single and I don’t need a man, that I don’t need love. Self-love is saying yeh, I may not need a man, but fuck I really want one for no other reason than I want to be loved and that it is okay to crave that feeling. Union and soul partnership and love are primal human desires, it is fucking natural for humans to want to be loved, to be seen and appreciated. Wanting to be loved doesn’t therefore eradicate or invalidate my self-love, acknowledging it instead amplifies it. Self-love is learning how to enjoy being single anyway, learning to be alone and be okay, learning how to enjoy spending time with just yourself. That is something our over-stimulated modern world struggles with, that I struggle with.


Self-love isn’t turning away from thoughts and feelings that scare you, the deep imaginings and workings of your mind that you dare not whisper to anyone, shutting down any emotions that aren’t love and light – self-love is leaning into them. Learning to release and communicate your anger and ugly feelings in way that works for you is an act of self-love in itself. It is stepping into the fire and letting it burn away anything that isn’t you. You might be left with a sassy-assed, foul-mouthed sexual deviant but if that is who you are, then that is self-love. It is the acceptance of all of yourself, and the acceptance of your shit. It’s not saying you won’t be angry because angry is bad, it’s saying I’m fucking angry right now and I’m going to honour that, because this body and this soul deserves that. It is respecting this human vessel you got put in and the energy of your soul that runs within it at all costs.

Learning how to be yourself, as someone that not everyone will like, is an act of self-love. Because we are brought up in a world that constantly tells you not to feel, to shut up, be quiet and not touch anything; in this world learning to feel it all, learning to express yourself, ask for what you want and learning to love yourself is revolutionary. To be loud and take up space. It is burning down the belief that you have to be anything or do anything to deserve love, other than be exactly who you are. It doesn’t have to look pretty, or be spiritual; it just has to be real. And it is a process, a goddamn long process that doesn’t really end until you die. Because you are constantly evolving, growing, learning and aging, and you will have life experiences that will shape you until the moment of your non-existence. I won’t sugar coat it and say it will be easy, because this life is about learning to constantly love, or at least trying to love, the person you are, and are constantly evolving into. Learning to take off the masks, the identities that you have created for yourself and be okay with presenting your real self to the world, cause that shit is fucking scary. The world is the most judgmental place and so we pretend to be who we’re not so that the fake persona becomes ridiculed instead, but then we just lose ourselves. It is about making meaning from this world that resonates with you, creating a life for yourself, and a world within it, that you are proud of. That is self-love and spirituality. For me anyway. And I think that’s it. For now at least.

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