I think having a dedicated spiritual practice can generate self-esteem.
Self-esteem is a feeling of confidence in oneself. And to me, it's related to commitment. The more I make commitments to myself and then follow through on them, the more I generate a feeling of trust in myself. It's this trust, generated over repeated experiences of following through on my commitments, that builds a sense of confidence, and therefore, bolsters my self-esteem.
I'm thinking of my
meditation practice here: I have a commitment to myself to meditate
every day for at least 30 minutes. The more I follow through with this,
the better I feel about myself. And it's not just about what happens
on the cushion and after, which is of course why I choose to meditate,
but it's the actual act of following through; making it to the cushion
day after day. When I do, I feel a sense of ease and knowing in my
body. There is something that softens in me, like I've just received a
hug. I know I'm "for" myself. When I don't, I feel a niggling in my
body, like a kind of tension that reminds me of somebody poking at my
side. It's like a subtle angst saying, "I have not honored myself
today." (And relating to spiritual practice, this is in addition to the
little voice that says, "I have not connected to my Self today.")
Our commitments may be about getting to the gym or yoga
class, studying, writing, practicing an instrument, or eating healthy
food, and I think it's all the same: any regular actions that fulfill our
personal commitments are going to foster trust in ourselves and increase
In my February newsletter, I wrote about how taking consistent
action in spiritual practice over a long period of time is called
abhyasa in Yoga. It's related to discipline and the idea that to see
results from our spiritual practices, we must practice consistently over
the long-term. So I'm appreciating how not only can we experience
spiritual results from consistent spiritual practice, which would probably be the
goal for most who practice, but we can also generate self-esteem, simply
by showing up for ourselves again and again. So this is a great
side-benefit of abhyasa.
More on how yoga and self-esteem are related in my upcoming book!