Let’s play a little game. Imagine if you will that this is one of those magazine quizzes — you know the ones where they ask a few yes/no questions and then you count up the number of each answer at the end and they diagnose you. So… let’s play. Answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to each of the following questions:
- Do you feel like you never have time for yourself?
- Do you have a hard time saying “no” when you know you should?
- Do you often put off things you want to do so you can help someone else?
- Are you often tired and/or hungry?
- Do you skip out on appointments to work out, get massage and/or pamper yourself?
- Do you hear yourself saying, “I really want to but I don’t have time for…” often?
- Do you feel repressed because you’re doing what you “should” do rather than what you want to do?
- Do you always feel like a martyr?
- Do you feel run down?
- Do you feel under appreciated?
- Do you find yourself doing things to get recognition?
I’m no psycho-analyst but I can tell you that experience has shown me people answering “yes” to most of those questions benefit from taking some time for themselves and taking care of their own needs for a little while. It’s very much like the airline safety message flight attendants give before a plane takes off in the section where they talk about oxygen masks which usually goes something like this:
“Should the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the overhead area. Please place the bag over your own mouth and nose before assisting children… or other adults acting like children.”
As is the case for the oxygen mask, so it is the case for life. Before we can really give of ourselves to other people, we need to ensure we have our own needs met. If we don’t, we risk feeling resentment, run down, angry, taken advantage of, victimized, blaming other people, as if we’re a martyr, under nourished (emotionally at least, if not poor eating habits resulting from prioritizing others over ourselves) and a host of other possible negative experiences we can avoid by doing more to take care of our own needs. That doesn’t mean always saying no and equally important, it also means you can’t always say yes.
Now you may wonder what this has to do with your practice. The number one thing I see from people interested in practicing who just don’t do it is that they have not made their own needs, wants and desires the priority they deserve to be and haven’t given themselves permission to take that time for themselves to do their practice. For some people, not getting to their practice is a symptom of a bigger issue where the person really isn’t taking care of themselves in multiple ways. In a sense, our personal practice is our self-care — it’s the way to come to our center and manage our own needs.
A friend of mine asked me recently if I had any articles about the positive impact and peek at what self-care looks like. To my surprise I found that somehow, I hadn’t yet written on the subject… and yet it’s such a vital life skill — one that impacts all facets of your daily experience. Once you take a moment to look, it’s easy to see the myriad of ways that self care happens regularly with our body including:
- teeth brushing
While something like exfoliation may not impact one’s mindset in a big way, most would agree improper rest will adversely affect someone’s ability to remain focused and alert. So it’s true that there are degrees of self care that each activity offers as well as a range of consequences when one is not honoring their needs. Of course there are other things that are much less obvious and far more subtle than bathing, things that can eat away at you in little bits, almost imperceptibly as you move through your life. These little things, unattended, can add up to the stresses that prevent you from operating at your best.
In honor of the hoopla around yesterday’s release of 50 Shades of Grey, here’s a look at 50 Shades of Self Care. This is not intended as a complete list of every possible way you can nurture your own soul but if you answered yes a lot in the quiz at the time, we think engaging in some (most? all?) of these activities will help get you on the right path to nourishing the needs of your body, mind and spirit. In so doing, you will be able to explore your self more deeply, be more present through the practice, better face obstacles and as a result, achieve better results — not just in your practice but in all aspects of your life as well.
Self care isn’t limited to the context of practice time — instead it’s about how we approach our lives and habits, with a mindful eye on balancing our needs and the needs of those with whom we share space. Sure, you may be a primary care giver for other people, but they are not more important than you and you need someone to take care of you also — and that someone is you.
On this Valentine’s day weekend, here’s wishing you take some time to love yourself — after all, you have to be with you every single day of your life!
If you’re looking to practice a lot of self love with us, consider joining one of our upcoming beginner classes, intermediate sessions, or for the business owners out there, join our Business training starting March 2015. Or, consider private sessions either via the internet or in person with GlitterGirl.