Self care has become a bit of a buzz phrase.
I used to think of it as an event in my day devoted to me. My yoga practice, a massage, lunch with a friend. It was a slow block of time placed in the middle of an otherwise fast-paced day. And that worked for a while...until it didn’t.
In the same way that I was meditating until the end of a full day of "doing," I was not threading self-care into the fabric of my day. It was not integrating in a way that was necessary for me.
So, I’ve shifted from the idea of "self care" to the practice of self awareness by asking: How do I feel?
How do I feel when I schedule myself with back to back appointments on any particular day? Extra tired.
How do I feel picking my girls up from after-school at 5:30 when everyone (including me) is tired, hungry and cranky? Guilty.
How do I feel the next day if I eat too much sugar? Bloated and yucky.
How do I feel?
What does my body need right now?
What does my soul desire?
Asking these questions as frequently as possible = Self Care = Self Awareness
We get good practice at this on our mat or cushion. With awareness of the sensations in and of our bodies and the thoughts of the mind, we are training our minds to go inward and observe HOW WE ARE right now.
We benefit greatly from extending this awareness throughout our day. Once awareness sets in, and we realize that certain choices lead to unpleasant or painful feelings and experiences; it becomes easier to make different choices.
This is the first step of changing habits that prevent sincere and lasting peace in our minds and in our bodies.
Right behind the difficulty of making different choices for ourselves is the expectations that others have about us.
Perhaps it is the nature of your job to be jam packed with appointments all day.
Perhaps there does not feel like a choice whether or not to put your children in after school.
Perhaps you tear your rotator cuff and you can’t practice yoga in the way you like to.
Perhaps you are a people pleaser and don’t like saying “no” to people.
Perhaps you are so consumed with other people’s expectations of you that you’ve lost sight of what you need for yourself.
This my friends, is where Grace comes in.
Give yourself some Grace.
Find a moment, steal a moment alone. (TMI - I hide in the bathroom)
Tell yourself: I am doing my best right now in this moment.
Comfort and console yourself like you would your best friend.
Breath. Feel your body. Connect with your heartbeat. Connect with NOW.
Life changes constantly. We never know what tomorrow may bring.
The more Grace we can give ourselves; the more Grace we can give others.
And then somewhere in that experience of consistent Grace, we begin to drop, naturally and slowly over time, what which does not serve our highest self.
Giving yourself Grace is, in part, being your own best friend.
So make friends with yourself. Internally and externally.
This is taking self-care to the highest level possible.