Mark Nepo: Loving Yourself


Ka Malana Photography, January 20, 2019

I really wanted to share a meditation from Mark Nepo’s, “The Book of Awakening,” p.29., 2000. I’m relating back to my precocious friend who told me about Martin Buber when I was about age 14, as the beginning quote below is from him. I find Mark Nepo’s own words to be incredibly poetic when he draws the analogy of the “clear bird.”

This passage is a meditation on what is not seen by others, and at the same time is full-circle and inclusive – not unlike viewing an eclipse in its unveiling/veiling moments of transformation. There is no dichotomy here drawn about self-love, from that of any other kind of love, or from even existence itself.

Loving Yourself

I begin to realize that in inquiring about my own origin and goal, I am inquiring about something other than myself… In this very realization I begin to recognize the origin and goal of the world.  –Martin Buber

“In loving ourselves, we love the world. For just as fire, rock, and water are all made up of molecules, everything including you and me, is connected by a small piece of the beginning.

Yet, how do we love ourselves? It is as difficult at times as seeing the back of your head. It can be as elusive as it is necessary. I have tried and tripped many times. And I can only say that loving yourself is like feeding a clear bird that no one else can see. You must be still and offer your palmful of secrets like delicate seed. As she eats your secrets, no longer secret, she glows and you lighten, and her voice, which only you can hear, is your voice bereft of plans. And the light through her body will bathe you till you wonder why the gems in your palm were ever fisted. Others will think you crazed to wait on something no one sees. But the clear bird only wants to feed and fly and sing. She only wants light in her belly. And once in a great while, if someone loves you enough, they might see her rise from the nest beneath your fear.

In this way, I’ve learned that loving yourself requires courage unlike any other. It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something no one else can see that keeps us in the world–our own self-worth.

All the great moments of conception–the birth of mountains, trees, of fish, of prophets, and the truth of relationships that last–all begin where no one can see, and it is our job not to extinguish what is so beautifully begun. For once full of light, everything is safely on its way–not pain-free, but unencumbered–and the air beneath your wings is the same air that trills in my throat, and the empty benches in snow are as much a part of us as the empty figures who slouch on them in spring.

When we believe in what no one else can see, we find we are each other. And all the moments of living, no matter how difficult, come back into some central point where self and world are one, where light pours in and out at once. And once there, I realize–make real before me–that this moment, whatever it might be, is a fine moment to live and fine moment to die.”

Small note about astrology: I am relieved to see the end of the 18/19 year eclipse series with the eclipses in Aquarius/Leo (Tropical zodiac). This last Leo eclipse was in Cancer/Capricorn nodes, but it was symbolically the end and the beginning of another chapter.

20 thoughts on “Mark Nepo: Loving Yourself

  1. This poem/meditation moves me to beautiful place of light and freedom, especially these lines: “…they might see her “rise from the nest beneath our fear….safely on its way – not pain free, but unencumbered…” Powerful imagery full of grace.

    1. Thank you so much, Lorrie! I’m amazed how “loving yourself” is such a necessary reminder and this passage helped me get the message deeper, and it seemed to correspond with the other events I was living when I wrote it. I appreciate your kind and loving words 🙂

      1. I am amazed at how many people DON’T love themselves. It seems like it should be another one of those life classes they should teach in school!!
        Much love, my friend ❤

      2. I’ll be honest with you Lorrie… it’s a life long practice. I haven’t arrived in complete love for myself without falter. So I think each time it gets deeper and more authentic, even when I didn’t even realize it and then I do and then any level or layer is given over. If you know what I mean, but I think you do! Also yes, maybe more classes: there are lots of workshops and tools and tricks like affirmations and love letters to self, and a lot of investigation processes 💗 Here’s to the hope that all find their inner gold 💗⭐️ whatever the method or even if just to be more self-tolerant. 😂
        So much love to you! Big hug!

      3. Ah! Big hug back, Ka! And I know exactly what you mean. It is a lifelong process. Sometimes I can’t believe how long it took me to get started! But once started…here we go!!

  2. Such a beautiful share Ka, and it is only through that journey of learning to love ourselves we find ourselves and save the world from its self..
    Much love and lovely to see you have been posting while I have not been posting as much..

    1. Hello Sue, thank you.
      This is only a lifetime process, I think! Self love. Lol. The practice of loving ourselves is a practice. This morning I read a great quote, qtd. by Tara Beach from Dorothy Hunt, “[we need a]…heartspace where everything that is, is welcome.” Blessings to you on this weekend day!

    1. Yes, Savvy –
      Thank you for being here 🙂
      “In this way, I’ve learned that loving yourself requires courage unlike any other. It requires us to believe in and stay loyal to something no one else can see that keeps us in the world–our own self-worth.”

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