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Mehmet Murat ildan wrote, “Go for a camping and there both your weary mind and your exhausted body will rise like a morning sun!” Camping can be healing—taking time to watch the sunrise, listening to the sounds of nature, staring at the campfire, watching the sunset, and perhaps in between jumping into a cool lake,  and doing some guiltless reading, relaxing, or napping—can all be refreshing to our mind and body many ways. Camping often takes our focus off of things in our life we don’t want think about, and negative things happening in the world that without TV or other social media we don’t even hear about.

When we go camping, whether it’s camping in a cabin, an RV, or a tent, it is often for the purpose of getting away from it all. A good question to consider might be, “What is ‘the all’ that so many of us want to get away from? What is it about our daily life that makes our mind weary and exhausts our body. What is it about our day to day life that causes us to feel so tired and sick, and sick and tired, that we want to get away from it, if only for a weekend?

John Muir wrote, “And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.” It’s a beautiful thing to find our soul because our soul is such a beautiful thing to experience. But if coming back to our day to day life after getting away from it causes us to lose touch with our soul again, if we feel restricted, anxious, bored, or weary living the life we call our own, then camping isn’t enough to permanently uplift us or to lastingly change anything about us.

We can’t get away from it all anyway because even if it all isn’t physically present, we take our self, the perceiver of it all, with us. We take our habits of thinking about life, and our habits of reacting to it, wherever we go. As Dr. Seuss put it, “Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” And, Jon Kabat-Zinn echoed the same thing: “Wherever you go, there you are.” There is nothing about our surroundings anywhere that can change us from the outside in. We take the same self camping that we take to the office or to the market. We take our happiness and our orneriness with us wherever we go and react to our surroundings according to the way we feel at the moment.

It is how we perceive our surroundings that brings out the best in us, the worst in us, or something in between. If we’ve been arguing with our self about something, or arguing with someone else about something, it affects our mood and attitude about everything as long as we remain angry or upset. And, it affects our perception and point of view. In the say way, if we’ve been appreciating our self for no reason, or appreciating someone else for no particular reason, it affects our mood and attitude, as well, about everything as long as we remain appreciative. And, it affects our perception and point of view.

No matter who we may be with and seem to be relating to—our family, friends, coworkers, or strangers—it is the relationship we’re having within us that causes us to feel what we feel about anyone else in any moment. Whatever is going on within us determines our interpretation of what’s going on around us. In other words, how we are feeling affects how we’re seeing what we’re seeing while we’re feeling what we’re feeling. That’s why it is important for us to love the one we’re with wherever we are because that one is always us. The Buddha said, “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” How much love and affection do we feel for our self in our daily life?

From the beginning of our Earth life, when we first entered the world, we came into an environment of not only contrast but comparison. The humans of the world had been cataloging and pigeonholing everything long before we got here, and they didn’t stop after we came. Once we arrived in 3-D form, we were put into catalogues along with everything else, and often we were put into a pigeonhole that was so small we could hardly breathe.

Our parents were familiar with the catalog-pigeonhole system, so they knew where to put us. We might have been the oldest child, youngest child, middle child, or an only child, and we were treated as if who we were was already determined by where we were in the birth order. We didn’t argue because we thought they knew! We tried so hard to live up to everyone’s expectations of us (high or low) that we began to expect it of us, too. In school we were compared scholastically, athletically, creatively, and in many other ways to other children. Often those comparisons made us wanna be like the children we were compared to, the ones the teachers and coaches and other children liked best. Most of us learned the opposite of appreciation for who we were, the very self we took with us everywhere we went.

If we’re dissatisfied with who we are today it’s because we’re still in the habit of comparing our self to others. We may wanna be as smart, quick-witted, young, healthy, thin, happy, or spiritual as someone else that seems to us to be so much more of those things than we are. We may wanna be pleasing to others, especially those we love. But our desire to wanna be like someone else, to wanna be the one others want us to be, causes us to lose touch with our soul and the beautiful Self we are already. While we’re wanting our life to be like the life of someone else who seems to have a better life than us, while we’re trying so hard to become spiritual, and while we’re wanting to be somewhere else so we’ll feel better about our self and life, we’re missing out on  experiencing the magnificent spiritual self we already are, right where we are.

Abraham-Hicks tells us, “Two things will keep you on the ground forever: Comparing yourself to others and listening to those who want to keep you on the ground with them. Be yourself. Trust in your giftedness, AND SOAR.” If we don’t trust that it is okay to be our self, we won’t discover the gift of our uniqueness that we came to share with the world. When we’re not loving our self, we can’t soar because it is Love that lifts us up. Self-love is never a selfish act or an egotistical act. The ego may be self-protective and self-defensive, but it can’t love us as God loves us. Self-love is an act of surrender to the Love that created us, the Love that loves us just as we are, the Love that wants us to be happy being our Self.

We read in A Course of Love, “Love is the condition of your reality. Love is as essential to your being as the heart to the body.” Self-love allows us to accept our self and our life as it is, and to appreciate who we are wherever we are. When we love being our Self, we free our mind of self-sabotaging beliefs that cause us to be controlled by the fear we’re not enough. Self-love means we don’t feel the need to look for approval from others because we trust that the Universe in which we live already approves of us. Louise Hay wrote, “You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

Self-love causes us to wannabe our Self, and to take care of our mental-emotional-physical health. We’re motivated to let go of whatever isn’t healthy in our day to day life—certain people, activities, a living situation, habits—all those things we’ve allowed to cause us to want to get away from it all. The poet, Aberjhani wrote: “Dare to love yourself as if you were a rainbow with gold at both ends.” If we’re willing to stop judging our self by comparing our self to anyone else, and if we’re willing to shine like the priceless colorful rainbow we are right now (not will be someday or somewhere else), but today right here, we’ll discover that there is no one else we wannabe.