Self care is being more and more recognized as essential to the quality of our life, and as a form of wisdom living. Wouldn’t you be curious as to why?
To explore why, let’s first bring some light to what self care is. Self care is taking care of the aspects of ourselves. This typically refers to our body, our mind, our emotions and our heart. Who wouldn’t feel good getting a physical massage, beholding a spectacular scenery, listening to melodious music, practicing a favorite hobby, and having our feelings respected and acknowledged? Our body, mind, emotions and heart all relish being pampered, respected and shown attention. Self care is our inborn dignity and privilege. We can give it to ourselves 24/7 instead of expecting to receive it from others. Self care addresses our essential needs. When our needs are met, we are happy, fulfilled, and we have much to share with others. When our needs are not met through self attention, all kinds of problems pile up in our life. We either end up feeling bewildered, frustrated, stressed, or we constantly seek out solutions to fix the problems or to fix ourselves.
How do we care for the body? We begin by being mindful of its needs. How long has our body been neglected? Too long. We have the tendency to take the body’s resilience and self repairing functions for granted. As a result we don’t take time to eat well, to mind our sleep hygienes, to relax or to exercise in the name of being busy. Imagine having a body wonderfully nourished, well rested and rejuvenated each day, how would you feel? How would your job performance be? How would your family time be? What would be your level of satisfaction in life?
How often do we take the time to listen to our mind? My observation is not enough. Instead we tend to be identified with the thoughts that arise in our mind. We believe the contents of the thoughts that are largely negative, limiting and self defeating. Unless a thought is in the form of inspiration or insight, they are not here to guide our actions. Rather, they are only here to be heard. They are the attention seeking device of our innocence. Negative thoughts in general reveal our concerns, fears, worries, regrets, and so on. The noisier our mind is, the more it is telling us we need to slow down and hear ourselves, because part of us is aching for attention. We all deserve to be heard, and most of us are dying to be heard. Imagine we be our first faithful, non-judgmental listener, how different will our life be?
When emotions rise up within us, especially uncomfortable emotions, what do we do? Our conditioning tells us there is something wrong about us and about the situation. We either want to avoid the emotions, or try to change it to our liking. And we get frustrated especially after years of effort cultivating a “virtue” or transforming a “vice”, we are still in the trench. In fact, the unpleasant emotions, be it fear, anger, sadness, disappointment, jealousy, etc. are only here to be loved, to be felt, to be embraced, to be welcomed, so that their polar opposites, namely enthusiasm, confidence, joy, and gratitude can become more and more of our experience. You might have heard it said, we don’t let go of emotions, they let go of us. When we have an open door policy towards emotions, our love transforms them, and they leave us.
How do we attend to our heart? Our heart represents our innocence. It has a personified name of our inner child. It is the part of us that is sensitive, tender, vulnerable, as well as honest and knowing. All too often we discipline, admonish, or try to reform it instead of loving it and respecting its need. When we are disconnected from our heart, what do we experience? Hunger for love, for approval, for validation, for comfort, for safety. And when we don’t know how to obtain these qualities from within, we search outward. We become addicted, codependent, imbalanced, or we are in constant pursuit of objects and achievements. We attract all sorts of challenges and crisis to keep reminding us to go within. Our heart is our guide and our best partner for this journey. Our job is to parent it with love. And when our divine parenthood is more and more fulfilled, our transformation and growth happens along the way.
For decades I had no inkling of what self care was. I was inundated with the pursuit of fleeting pleasures. I was constantly in the struggle of proving myself, or pleasing others at my own expense. The pain and heartache was insufferable. Since I became aware of who I truly was years ago, and nurture that realization one day at a time, the benefits of self care I reaped has been amazing. I found out when I take care of myself, the Universe takes care of everything else. Would you grant you the precious gift of self care beginning today?