Self Love Ritual
"Gather flowers, body oil, scent, candles, contemplative or relaxing music, and more energizing dance music. Fluff your space with texture, color, or lighting. If needed, make a clear request for undisturbed private time—even if this means locking the doors.
Or, you could ask for someone to silently witness your self-love process, which can be very erotic. Once the space is set, it’s time to begin. Strip down to your birthday suit, or if needed a very loose kimono. Stand with your feet firmly grounded, and place both hands on your heart.
Take a few minutes for deep breathing and scan your body, beginning at the crown and moving down to the feet. Notice what parts are alive and tingling, and which are numb and unfeeling, too. Notice where you are open and soft, and where you are tight. How balanced you are from left to right, from front to back, and from top to bottom. When you’re ready, reach up and stretch your arms to the sky, taking your full height. Reach your arms to the side, taking your full width, then bow down to touch the floor or the earth. This is you, right here right now, placed between the vast heavens and the earth’s liquid core.
Standing in this ease and relaxation, close your eyes. Soften your jaw, even soften the muscles around your eyeballs. In this state, picture and invite into your ritual any beings who symbolize unconditional love, some natural perfection or wholeness (some female deities, such as Mary Magdalene, the symbol of loving truth, or Kwan Yin, a goddess of compassion, come to mind). You might visualize someone in your own life who has shown you that kind of love. You may even call on an animal guide, or a place on earth, or a plant that embodies love to you. Hold this energy in your mind’s eye, and let it drop into your hands. This is the love you will begin to anoint your body with.
Now it’s time to begin your full-body anointing. Start seated on the ground, and cradle one foot at a time. Rub lotion or oil on each toe, the spaces between the toes, the arches of the feet, the tops of the feet, the ankles. Say “thank you, feet, for holding me up, helping me pivot, taking me in the right direction.” Use your own words as you move your way up the body and thank each part in succession. Touch your entire body from your toes up to the crown of your head, paying exquisite attention to how you’re made and tapping into the wonder of this biomachine your soul lives in. Include your sexual organs, your anus and your nipples—or any zones that have been sexualized or objectified or made dirty, and reclaim them as your own!
Go slow enough to notice any body criticism or habitual self-denial that rise up, and invite it to leave your mind. Continue appreciating your body and saying thank you. If you hit scars, you might wonder at the healing power of the body, and give thanks for your life. The anointing part of the ritual can be ten minutes, or an hour, or anywhere in between. As you come to the completion of the anointing, try to shift your mood or the mood of those you are guiding from contemplative and sensual to one that will get you moving or dancing, and put on music that drives home the spirit of self-love.
Follow the impulse of your body to move in any way it desires. If you find yourself frozen, just keep moving your feet. Dance from the inside out, raising your energy. As the music winds down, return to stillness.
Now it is time to release this body prayer. Thank the people you invoked at the beginning of your ritual, and allow them to depart. You might say something like “Thanks for coming, energy of Kwan Yin, see you next time!” You might end by saying something like, “This time with myself has come to a close. I walk into the world knowing that I am full, held, whole, worthy, loved.”
Over the next few days, let this intimate ritual of self-love echo in your life, noticing any time when “not-love” comes up in contrast. Notice how unkindness, self-criticism, and harshness feel in contrast to the daily practice of turning a loving voice toward yourself. Repeat as often as desired! We recommend a daily practice for 28 days to move from the habitual conversation with the body to one of love and reverence."
The above is an excerpt from our book "Reverence: Creating Ritual in Modern Life."