What is Self-Care?
By taking care of yourself, I mean more than getting monthly massages and treating your feet to a pedicure. What does it look like to take care of your emotional body and your spiritual body, alongside your physical body?
Caring for Your Physical Body
Your physical body deserves to be treated with love and respect; is the vehicle that carries your soul and consciousness through this world; it deserves to be treated with love and respect. Can you commit to several of the following habits to care for your physical body?
- eating food that makes your body feel energized
- moving (walking, dancing, etc) from a place of joy
- sleeping enough to support your waking life
- resting and relaxing (baths, mediation)
- receiving physical care and support (massage, acupuncture)
What else does your physical body need to feel loved and supported? No request is unreasonable, and no first step is too small. Self-care is a process of getting to know what really feeds you.
Caring for Your Emotional Body
Become curious about the feelings that you don't want to feel; dissatisfaction, rage, disconnection. Emotions are feedback from your intuition. When you feel joyful, your intuition says "Yes! This is what we want." When you feel overwhelmed or detached, this is your intuition saying "Nope, this isn't it. Let's do something else." Are you willing to stay engaged with those feelings for long enough to understand what they might need from you?
Give yourself the time and space to experience all of your emotions; let them wash over you like a wave. Practice having compassion for your "ugly" emotions and allowing them space in your life. Notice that even in the most intense moment of your experience your physical body is still safe and alive. The greatest sensation of fear, grief or rage can leave your breathing ragged but when the moment has passed you will return to a comfortable place. Experiment with these ways of caring for your emotional body:
acknowledge whatever emotion you are feeling
unhook feeling from thought i.e., "I'm feeling scared about our conversation yesterday," is actually "I'm feeling scared, and I'm thinking about our conversation yesterday."
let your emotions come in waves; wash over you and then disperse
resist the urge to stop or suppress your emotions (through mindless eating, watching television, and otherwise distracting yourself)
listen for what this emotion is really telling you
act from your intuition about a feeling, rather than the urge to cover or suppress this feeling
Adjusting the way you relate to your emotions may feel scary. You are exploring ways to be truly vulnerable with yourself. At the other end of this exploration, you will feel peaceful.
Caring for Your Spiritual Body
Human beings have always told stories; our interpretation of what happened. A story is a fantastic tool for organizing our experiences but it's important to distinguish our story from what actually happened. The same happening can occur differently to different people and radically different stories can develop.
Experiment with traveling beyond the story of "me." Explore the element of your body that is greater than it's physical or emotional experience. Tap into your spirit, which never doubts the benevolence of any moment, and which has a deep knowledge that everything is always okay. The spiritual body loves deeply and without fear or hesitation; the opposite of our mortal body which is ruled by fear and doubt. Care for your spiritual body with the following practices:
- acknowledging its existence
- hearing its unwavering belief in the perfection of the universe
- living from a place of curiosity and gratitude
Stop complaining; let go of blaming yourself or others. Acknowledge and experience your "unpleasant" feelings. Create a space within yourself for your hopes, fears and fantasies to unwind and reveal themselves. Create space for those around you to experience their emotions. Be a true partner by empowering your loved ones to care for themselves.
Stop looking for stability in your outer world.
Care for yourself and experience inner strength, peace and stability.
Have you experiment with some of these suggestions? What have you found? How do you care for your whole Self? Let me know in the comments below.