FAST WISDOM™ NEWSLETTER
By Lonner Holden
SELF-CARE: TURN ON, TUNE IN, DROP OUT
Last Sunday, I had a host of things planned for my day, including a 30 mile bike ride, digging into my income tax and working in the yard. But I slept in until late morning, had a long and hearty brunch in bed, watched a movie, took a few naps, abandoned the sink full of dishes and almost entirely avoided the phone & computer. I never left the house and never got dressed. Nor did I touch the bike, the taxes or the weeds. The more I rested, the more I felt like resting; the more I felt like resting, the more I rested.
Something in me knew I needed to turn on to feeling the tiredness which had been accumulating, tune in to resting deeply and drop out of external concerns.
Reflecting on this very rare lazy and unstructured day at home I realized I had not had a day in my own house with no commitments for way too long. And boy, did I need it. The tiredness which came to the surface continued to do so for a few days. Then I began to feel the deeper energy, and a calm, and feeling of spaciousness rising. I felt more connected to myself, my sense of purpose, others and the broader world. Even though I have a hearty self-care philosophy and palette of practices I regularly engage in, and even though I had completed a 36 day detox earlier in the year, I had unknowingly neglected this one need of a “nothing day”. I had not allowed the necessary practice of solitary timelessness at home.
This experience got my attention, so I began to contemplate more deeply what ‘Self-Care’ is - and is not.
So may these recent musings inspire you in your own self-care.
Why is self-care generally so neglected when we give so much energy and time to caring for our clients and customers, friends and family, world causes, and managing our money and property?
Historical: Subjective, subtle internal sensation awareness was the survival norm for ancient hunter gatherers. Today, we objectify everything - including ourselves. In modern medicine, the patient’s subjective experience has no place, as it can’t be “studied” in relationship to physical, observable symptoms. It is often declared by the professional that it “doesn’t exist”. So the underlying message is why take care of yourself, if your subjective self has no place in your “care”?; you are not the authority on what you “need”.
Social: Personal value in our society is achievement based. Our deeds are our measure, so to belong, we are obsessed with looking at ourselves externally. That “I matter” - am worthy, wanted, loved, deserving - is based on what I do, rather than who I am internally and what I can do to nurture what I need.
Philosophical: There is a prevailing belief that if I take care of myself, I am taking energy and resources from someone who needs them; that there is scarcity of resources. Yet self-care is prerequisite to being effective in life; being generous with your gifts while maintaining your vitality.
All self-care is in behalf of prevention and repair. Prevention of physical disease, mental and emotional fatigue, spiritual despair, and repair of their causes. The more you adopt a philosophy and regular practices of self-care, the more you deepen an accepting and loving relationship with yourself which naturally becomes increased empathy for, acceptance of, and love for others and for life itself.
What are the elements of Self-Care?
The practice/activity must be accessible. Self-care doesn’t happen between the covers of a book. Everything sounds great in theory, but if you value organics, and your store doesn’t have organics, you’re not doing organics. You have to be able to do the practice.
It must be habitual/regular. I have seen over the years that less more often produces quicker, and more sustainable benefits than more less often.
It must be volitional. The people who have come to see me simply to get their spouse or friend “off their back” never stayed or adopted any philosophy or practice of self-care. You have to want to do it.
Requires turning attention towards oneself. If you are mentally “fixing’ that other person in yoga class, you are compromising the benefit of the class for yourself. (However, acts of kindness are known to generate goodwill and, in a yoga class, may prevent injury for another.)
There is a sense of receiving. A quality of surrender is innate to feeling cared for. Allowing yourself the vulnerability to allow change towards relaxation and rejuvenation is a kind of curiosity in being re-newed, or new again, whether you are gently massaging your own arm or a masseuse is.
Motivation increases. The more you care for yourself in a balanced approach, the more you want to continue.
Feels selfless. Any act of generosity towards yourself which cultivates and refines your sense of well being is nothing to feel proud about or guilty of because you are not “accomplishing” anything. It is important to thank oneself for self-care taking. Gratitude to oneself gets naturally generated as generosity out into the world.
The benefits are cumulative. You continue to feel increasingly better overall as you continue to practice.
The effects are positive. You feel restored, re-energized, calmer. Though, sometimes, like during a detox diet, fatigue, stress and/or toxins stored in the body can come to the surface as they are moving out of our body. The same is true for emotions. Healing is rarely comfortable or convenient. But it is better in the long run to have what you don’t want influencing your physiology or your sanity coming out rather than going deeper in, where it is harder to resolve later.
Inspires engagement with life beyond oneself. A self-care practice can be over-done. Over exercise, over dieting, obsessing on emotions, often leave one exhausted, depleted, isolated, emotionally fragile. If your only interest is in “taking care of yourself”, you might be missing time to expressing your vitality in interests outside yourself. Balanced self-care is intended to move us beyond excess self-preoccupation. (Obviously, necessary exceptions would be if one is going through an intense personal challenge like chemo, surgery, a loss or trauma.)
Moves you in the direction of timeless experience. When our Body, Thoughts and Emotions, and Spirit relax and unify into a sense of flow beyond the concerns of the to-do list, schedules and goals, our nervous system activates a big reset and we typically come out of the experience feeling deeply renewed and energized.
A variety of practices that compliment one another. Our Body, Mind and Spirit are all interrelated aspects of all of who we are. Include for yourself a balance of practices which care for each aspect. For me: Body/diet, yoga and trail running; Mind & Emotion/my men’s group and trusted friends; Spirit/time in nature. Meditation and Jin Shin Jyutsu are two practices which are integrative of all aspects. If I take care of only my physical self and not my thought and emotional self, my mental stresses will continue to show up in my body and bring down my spirits.
Includes community connection and enrichment. Balanced with the degree of solitude which is right for you, having the support and encouragement of others engaged in the same practice provides a reliable forum, a fire to gather together around. Plus, if it is a class, following a teacher’s instructions enhances the receptivity we often forget while engaged in an otherwise hectic life.
You don’t need LSD to Turn on, Tune in and Drop out. But the high that can be produced by artful caring for yourself and the joy others can experience from being with you can be much more lasting as longevity of your body, happiness in your soul, and compassion for self and others.
Now go share your inspiration with your practitioners. You do want to be cared for by someone who cares for themselves, don’t you?
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