Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Practical Guide to Self Care

And you? When will you begin
that long journey into yourself ?
~ Rumi

This post was inspired by a discussion I had recently with one of my favourite people....you know who you are. J

We all have ways to soothing ourselves and of looking after ourselves when we need it – this certainly isn’t the only way, but it works for me so I thought I’d share a little of it. This is something I’ve been working on for the last year or so and I really (really) wish I’d learned it earlier.

When our lives seem stressful or overwhelming it’s easy to turn to distractions to either avoid our uncomfortable feelings or turn away from them and we all know this doesn’t work and in fact it can be unhealthy. Feelings don’t go away unless we feel them and work through them.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying ‘the issues are in the tissues’. And they really are. Our feelings are real things that inhabit our bodies and when we respect them and acknowledge them we’re looking after ourselves with loving kindness.

When I’m not sure what I need I just ask myself what it is – what I’m missing. I know that might sound a little weird but it works...I always get an answer.

I take a moment or two to settle into my body, and for me this means sitting comfortably with my eyes closed and taking several deep belly breaths in and out through my nose. I kindly remind myself to relax and actively try to release any obvious tension. Once you get in the hang of this you’ll learn where you tend to hold the most tension and it becomes much easier to let it go.

Once I’m feeling still I do a quick scan of my body and notice any sensations that I may not already be aware of. Sometimes I notice that my feet are chilly or I have an itch that I hadn’t noticed before. I may notice a heavy feeling in my chest or a light feeling in my belly. The sensations in our bodies are an ever changing and interesting thing to explore and learn about, and from.

At this point I might ask myself what I’m feeling or what I need. Sometimes it’s easiest just to sit with any sensations I’m feeling and let them be. I do my best never to judge what I’m experiencing – I just be with whatever is going on. Sometimes what I need or the right thing for me to do becomes very clear in an instant and sometimes not. Moments of clarity can be as simple as I thought I wanted a diet Pepsi but when I give myself a moment to feel what’s right I decide that a cup of green tea would be the better choice.

Although this sounds like it might take a long time – it can take just as long as you’d like it to. There will be times during the day that you just aren’t quite sure what you’d like to do or to eat so the process can take a minute and there are other times when you’re not sure how you feel about something so you spend a few more minutes quietly with yourself.

This also makes a wonderful mindful mediation that can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 minutes or more. I’ve been meditating for many years and this is the one I find the most relaxing and rewarding.

With a little practice this can become a grounding force that you will use on a daily basis as part of a spiritual self care routine. Each time we check in with our bodies we’re giving ourselves the love and respect we deserve. The opportunity to learn more about ourselves can only lead to a more joyful authentic life.

2 comments:

  1. I've just begun to apply this practise in my life & find it grounding, & mindful. Just acknowledging how my body feels, is comforting in itself. Faery blessings :) x

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    1. It's a practice for sure...the longer I work at it the better I feel :)

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