Some time ago I received a newsletter from my mentor Dr. Claudia Welch and was inspired by her article about getting to neutral. Not getting ahead, not expanding into our full potential, but just getting to neutral.
It's so common to short-change ourselves when it comes to self-care--meditation, plenty of sleep, good quality food, exercise-- yet without proper care, our bodies break down too soon.
Many of us grow up without ever learning how to take good care of ourselves. We may only understand diet as something connected to staying slim, or that exercise is good for us, but never really learn how to inhabit our body, and move it in ways that feel good. Spiritual self-care may have been at a church we didn't really connect to, and if we haven't learned to tame our minds, we will suffer at that level.
If self-care wasn't valued in our family it can feel indulgent to take the time that's really needed to attend to our whole self, or it may not really occur to us to do so. If we grew up taking care of siblings or our parents, we may have developed a pattern of caring for everyone but ourselves. We may have learned that it is selfish to think too much about ourselves, and so become a martyr to some greater good; but what good are we if we're exhausted, resentful, or sick from neglect?
If we don’t take care of our organism, Nature will come in with illness or deep distress to help us get back on track. Nature never comes in heavy-handed all at once. She whispers; she coaxes; she tries to get our attention; and when we refuse to listen, she takes us down. I know some of you reading are already struggling with the disease process in ways that will only get worse in time if you don't shift how you're living.
We are multidimensional Beings--physical, energetic, mental, and spiritual. All the layers of ourselves need attention and care, and the dysfunction at any level causes a breakdown in the system overall. That's what Dr. Welch's article is pointing to--there's so much more to self-care when we consider the depth of who we really are.
It’s never too late to learn to take excellent care of ourselves and reap the rewards of renewed energy, optimism, strong immunity, a sex drive, a relaxed and focused mind grounded in a sense of purpose and connection to all that is. We are all so worth our precious time and energy.
If you're someone who struggles to find time or motivation for yourself, some good questions to ask are:
What non-essential stuff can I release to clear some space for myself?
What am I afraid will happen if I take this time?
What would I love to do for myself on a daily basis that I'm not taking time to do?
How have I disempowered myself?
What's one action I could take today to get back on track with myself?
If you're way out of alignment with where you want to be, and it's been some time, it can be like a mini-revolution to declare you are finished living the way you've been living, and that you are taking a new path. And with that new path, like the fool in the tarot, you can be open to making mistakes and learning as you go, recognizing that as part of the path of change, not an obstacle.
I want to leave you with this interview I gave back in 2015 for the Yoga Beyond the Poses tele-summit, where I talk about self-care with an emphasis on self-love: Rhythm, Calm and Love. May it support your evolving self-care and dharma in the world.