Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away, and the topic of love is in there air. While Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays, this year, I’m approaching it a bit differently. Sure I’ll be making Cousin’s Valentine’s Day gift bags with the boys, whipping up a batch of Raw Maca & Ginseng Aphrodisiac Truffles, and soaking in some Romantic Herbal Bath Blend. I’m even going to take the time to smell the roses (granted my husband buys me some!!).
But this year, in these very early days of spring and in this year of connecting with myself and others, I want to explore the topic of love — what it is, what it means to me, and how to better express it to myself and those around me. There are times when I feel very balanced in the love area, but other times, I find myself in a very imbalanced place — either falling short on self-love or love for others.
Today, I want to share some of my findings and thoughts with you on this topic and how we can strive to balance self-love and loving others. Whether you’re a busy parent, a single young adult, an empty-nester, or an elder, all of what I have to share today can apply to you.
Balance Is Something To Strive For, But It’s Rarely Something Maintained
We, humans, are cyclical beings that live in a cyclical world. Our bodies flow — constantly changing to maintain balance. Sometimes, we’re moving forward, and other times, we’re moving backward. And whether we realize it or not, we ebb and flow just as nature does, moving through each season in a rhythmical pattern.
As we move through daily life, we can find ourselves in various states of balance or imbalance depending on the subject we’re considering. It could be work, health, or love — it doesn’t matter. We all have a million things going on, and we’re all in different states of balance in each of these areas.
Now, when I say balance, I mean, how we’re handling things. As a mom, sometimes I’m doing well juggling all my mom duties — easily tossing balls up at just the right time in a rhythmical pattern and catching them on the way down in time to do it all again. Other times, it seems I’m continually dropping balls no matter how hard I try to catch them, or I’m so focused on keeping everything up in the air that I can’t think of anything else. Does that analogy make sense?
Another way I like to describe balance when talking to my Letters To Natural Mamas readers is to think of balance in any area of life like a seesaw. When the seesaw is level, you’re balanced. If the seesaw has one end closer to the ground and the other up in the air, you’re unbalanced.
Sure, we all strive for balance. It’s only natural as our bodies were created to be balanced. However, in the world we live, a continual state of equilibrium isn’t something maintained for long. At some point, in any given area, our seesaw is going to tilt one way or the other becoming imbalanced.
During these times, it’s vital for us to recognize this imbalance so we can counter it and slowly move back into a balanced state of wellbeing. This recognition is where mindfulness comes into play. If we’re mindful of our circumstances and how we feel, we can more easily recognize when an imbalance occurs.
So let’s get back to the topic of love and how to balance self-love with loving others. I want to take some time to focus on the heart chakra as it represents the center of love — self-love, loving others, and loving the world around us.
A Quick Sidenote On Chakras
You may be wondering, “What on earth is a chakra?” (Pronounced “chock-rah” in my best Southern twang). The idea of chakras come from India, and basically, chakras are energy points in the body that work independently or in harmony to maintain physical, emotional, or spiritual balance. There are seven total chakras (the number of perfection, anyone?), each represented by spinning wheels along the spine, and each chakra is associated with a specific element, color, musical note, flower essences, affirmations, yoga poses, metals, etc. When one of these chakras is imbalanced, chances are, others will be imbalanced as well.
The heart chakra is located right in the center of the chest between the breasts, and when balanced, we can love ourselves, others, and the world around us with authenticity and ease. However, when this chakra is imbalanced, we find ourselves struggling in one or more of these areas.
Everyone uses chakras differently. For me, chakras are an easy way to focus on specific areas of my physical, emotional, or spiritual self to maintain homeostasis or balance in my life. That’s it. Nothing woo-woo about it.
Okay, so let’s look at love and what it looks like when balanced as well as when it’s in excess or deficient. The following information on a balanced and imbalanced heart chakra comes from herbalist and naturopathic doctor Jackie Johnson from her Herbal Academy article, Tips On Balancing The Heart Chakra.
What Balanced Love Looks Like
When love is balanced, we find ourselves able to love unconditionally — ourselves (self-love) and others. We readily accept others as they are with all of their positive and negative qualities because we realize we too have positive and negative attributes. We find ourselves able to forgive easily or look past faults. We are empathetic and compassionate towards others and ourselves. We are in a place and state of mind to reach out and help others when we can, while at the same time, saying no if we need to. There’s a healthy balance of self-care and caring for others. Our confidence is stable, and we are at peace with the world around us.
What Excess Love Looks Like
When love is in an excess state, we find ourselves feeling a bit jealous and possessive — perhaps even a bit needy and co-dependent. Often, our boundaries are blurred, and we may see ourselves loving others more than we love ourselves. We find it hard to say no to requests and needs, and we give more of ourselves than we have to offer. This excess state of love leaves us depleted, overwhelmed, and feeling sorry for ourselves.
What Deficient Love Looks Like
When love is in a deficient state, we find ourselves pulling inward too much — withdrawing from society, focusing too much on ourselves and not enough on others, becoming self-centered and selfish. We can become critical, judgemental, and intolerant. This deficient state of love often leads to feelings of loneliness and eventually depression. There is a fear of connecting with others.
Now that you know what love looks like in states of balance and imbalance, let’s look to some natural therapies to help us when we’re feeling a bit imbalanced — you know, when our seesaw is at some crazy angle.
Natural Therapies To Help You Balance Self-Love & Loving Others
The best approach to balance self-love with loving others is a holistic one. As an herbalist, this is sometimes referred to as a “vitalist approach.” This approach means addressing the whole person instead of merely using herbs only. When taking a holistic or vitalist approach, you’ll want to address different areas of wellness to achieve the best results. Sometimes, work in one area is enough to bring balance, but when you make adjustments to several different areas of your life, you’re more likely to get more noticeable results in a quicker amount of time.
Diet is the foundation of any wellness protocol — yes, even one dealing with an emotion such as love. If you find yourself with an excess or deficiency of love, try adding more vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats into your diet.
Fruits and Vegetables
Incorporating vegetables, particularly green ones, such as broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, green peppers, kale, and spinach are great additions to one’s diet. One can also add a moderate amount of fruits such as green apples, pears, and kiwi throughout the day. Another option is spirulina, a green algae, which is considered a superfood and makes a great addition to smoothies! I like to eat all the colors of the rainbow, but you can’t go wrong with adding more green into your diet!
Heart-healthy oils and fats such as cold-water fish, omega-3 fish oils, nuts and seeds, and olive oil are also great for heart health and should be added to the diet in healthy amounts.
Quality of Breathing
I’m convinced that many Americans do not breath properly. I’m guessing that most times, they take short, shallow breaths, rarely filling their lungs. Practicing deep breathing exercises throughout the day can not only help you learn how to breathe correctly, but these types of exercises increase oxygen intake, strengthen the tissues and structures of the lungs, and benefit our mood and thought processes as well.
Quality of Air
Another thing to consider when you think about breathing is not only how you breathe but what you breathe. Having clean air in your home and environment is just as crucial to your health as taking sufficient breaths. Be sure to allow fresh air to circulate through your home. An open window is a great way to do that if you live in an area with high-quality air. If you live in a city or in an area where the air quality may not be the best, you can run air purifiers with HEPA filters in various rooms of your home to clean the air. Fresh plants can also be a great way to naturally filter your air if air purifiers aren’t a good fit.
The use of essential oils for aromatherapy falls into the breathing category as well. While there are many essential oils with specific aromas that are good for the lungs, rose essential oils (rose otto, rose absolute, and rose geranium), rosewood, pine, and jasmine absolute are all useful in balancing the heart chakra. These oils can be applied topically with a carrier oil, diffused in a diffuser, or used in a personal inhaler. You can even use a heart chakra synergy blend that can help balance the heart chakra as well.
Exercises that are gentle on the body and joints are a great way to get your blood moving and your lymph flowing, not to mention increasing your breathing as well.
One of my favorite types of exercise is yoga. While there are various styles of yoga, each having its own focus, yoga is generally beneficial to persons of all ages and stages of life. There are also various levels of yoga ranging from beginner to advanced, so most people can find a class or video that fits their level. Yoga also encourages strength through bodyweight training, flexibility through repeated and progressive stretching, and balance on both sides of the body through the various positions and movements making it a great whole body exercise.
Some specific yoga poses that are associated with the heart chakra and great for balancing self-love with loving others are those that open the chest or heart. Some of these poses are upward facing dog, camel, baby cobra and cobra, bridge, and wheel poses.
Another excellent exercise for centering or balancing oneself is walking, especially walking in nature. If you have a local park, botanical garden, or wooded area, going for a walk 3-4 times a week can be a great way to get out, relieve some stress, and get some gentle exercise at the same time.
Another essential lifestyle factor to consider when balancing self-love with loving others is your mindset. The thoughts you think, about yourself and others, play a huge role in your physical, mental, and spiritual health. In fact, studies have shown that negative thoughts and personal fears can negatively impact your health, especially in regards to the chronic release of stress hormones (Rankin, n.d.).
Now, I’m not saying you’ll never think negatively or have issues with yourself or others. We all do. One way to deal with these negative emotions is to write, think, or say what you’re feeling and then follow it up with some positivity in some form or fashion. Over time, thinking and saying kind things about yourself and others can help to change how you feel. Any time you think or say something negative about yourself or someone else, try to counter it by replacing it with three positive thoughts or sayings. The more you do this, the more you’ll develop the habit of finding the good in yourself and others, and slowly, your mindset will shift to a more positive one.
Now that we’ve addressed some holistic lifestyle areas that can help you balance self-love with loving others, let’s look at some specific herbs that can be used to assist in this area as well. When it comes to using herbs to balance the heart chakra, we’re going to focus on using green herbs as well as herbs that are associated with the heart. We’ll also incorporate general herbs for overall wellness, and we’ll look at using herbs based on an energetic approach to balancing the heart as well.
Green Herbs & Heart Herbs
Green herbs such as nettle (Urtica dioica), hops (Humulus lupulus), and lady’s mantle (Alchemilla vulgaris) are often used to balance the heart chakra as well as heart-specific herbs such as rose (Rosa spp.), hawthorn (Crataegus spp.), and motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca).
General Herbs for Wellness
Beyond herbs that are specific to the heart chakra, incorporating nourishing herbs alongside nervine and adaptogen tonics can be beneficial for overall wellness as well. Nourishing herbs like alfalfa (Medicago sativa), nettle (Urtica dioica), dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis), and oatstraw (Avena sativa) can offer the body needed vitamins and minerals, and nervine and adaptogen tonics (nervines: chamomile (Matricaria recutita), lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), and milky oats (Avena sativa) | adaptogens: tulsi (Ocimum spp.) and astragalus (Astragalus membranaceus)) can help to soothe frayed nerves and nourish the endocrine glands.
An Energetic Approach
Another approach to using herbs to balance self-love with loving others would be to take an energetic approach. First, you’ll need to identify which type of heart imbalance you have, an excess or a deficiency, and then you’ll use herbs with the opposite energetics to slowly shift yourself closer to a state of balance.
An excess imbalance would present as energetically hot and tense so cooling, relaxing herbs would be great options here. Rose, motherwort, and marshmallow are some plants that immediately come to mind. Check out this delicious recipe for a marshmallow infusion with rose syrup to get you started.
A deficient imbalance would present as energetically cold and relaxed so warming, stimulating herbs that tone tissues (astringents) would be useful. Powdered cinnamon (Cinnamomum spp.) and schisandra (Schisandra chinensis) mixed with a little local raw honey would be a great treat in this instance.
In case you’re wondering, I purchase most of my herbs at Mountain Rose Herbs.
When we think about living our healthiest, best lives, it’s vital for us to realize and accept that we need to be able to both love ourselves and love others. Sometimes we do better at one more than the other, and that’s okay. The goal is to recognize when this is happening in our lives and make some lifestyle adjustments that will help to counterbalance ourselves.
If you’re like me and thinking about love from a different perspective this Valentine’s Day, or if you see yourself in one of the heart imbalances described above, I hope you’ve found this post helpful in some way. Feel free to share it with someone you love as well!
Happy Valentine’s Day, and here’s to better loving ourselves and others in 2019!
- Rankin, L. (n.d.). Scientific proof that negative beliefs harm your health. Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9690/scientific-proof-that-negative-beliefs-harm-your-health.html
- Johnson, J. (2016). Tips on balancing the heart chakra. Retrieved from https://theherbalacademy.com/tips-balancing-heart-chakra/
This post was underwritten by Plant Therapy. All opinions are mine. Plant Therapy offers 100%, pure, undiluted essential oils sourced from some of the top essential oil suppliers in the world. They have single oils and synergy blends, as well as a line of synergy blends specific to children. Not only do they offer high-quality essential oils, but they also offer carrier oils, hydrosols, and other essential oil accessories to help you keep yourself and your home naturally healthy.