What is self-care

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

-Audre Lorde

While meditation, bubble baths, and alone time can be self-care, sometimes it’s just plain hiding.

Self-care often takes on the form of discipline or what we need most to progress out of our anxiety and traumas and into wellness and empowerment. Momentary indulgences are wonderful, and I love them very very much, they are so joyful, relaxing, and gentle, but I don’t call them self-care. I call them indulgences.

True self-care requires a decision to value and treat myself in a totally different way, and it is worthwhile to differentiate as they offer different results.

I’ve felt sick to my stomach practicing self-care. I’ve had to communicate incredibly difficult things to important people in my life that wasn’t supportive of my well-being or of others around me. I’ve had to dig in my heels and put up healthy boundaries when it would have been easier not to.
I never feel sick to my stomach during an indulgence, but sometimes afterwards, depending on the indulgence. With self care, it may feel bad during the practice, but it is always followed by longer-term relief.

I ask others for help. For a time I thought this was a sign of weakness, and I eventually realized how much self-esteem, strength, and courage it took to reach out when all I wanted to do is isolate and figure out how to do it all myself (but not really). While taking personal space is incredibly important, it can become an indulgence when reach-outs are called for. We are putting off a solution. Something that will take care of us, relieve us, make us stronger, connect us.

I’ve started some mornings with meditation and breath exercises when that was really the last thing I wanted to do, but it was what I knew would set the right tone for me for the day. I also had to recognize when it was enough and I had to move on to other responsibilities in my life.

It’s wonderful to indulge. Indulge away. But let’s not hijack the meaning of self-care to be synonymous with indulgence. Self care is what we do that gives us what we really need: a fierce love for ourselves and those around us, a voice that advocates on our behalf and on behalf of others that need advocation, and an inner strength that doesn’t allow our highest values to become hijacked by external pressure. Self-care brings us back to Self so that not only can we truly indulge without regret, but we can also truly care for others in the most appropriate way.

On discernment

The more validation I need, the less discernment I have.

-Kurt Hanks

It is to know when to step back and relax and when to stretch into the discomfort zone.
When to make the schedule work and when to let it go.
When you’re ready to move on and when you’re about to stir up the old pot.
When it’s okay to be uncomfortable around what someone is saying and when it’s not okay.
When it’s truth and when it’s justification.
When your soul is being insulted or when your ego is.

Discernment is self-care. And these answers are always inside.

The bridge between fear and truth

Have you ever stopped to think why, when you start to get a little ungrounded (though you may not see it yet), someone tells you to breathe? And does that suggestion make you insane?

Our breath is the bridge between our physical body (perceptions, the finite) and our Soul (Truth, the infinite).

We can live out our lives never thinking about the breath, and our body will automatically breathe for us… though we risk having stressors dictate how we breathe– shallow and erratic. Without the full inhale, the life force that is carried through the breath will not reach below the diaphragm to move through and release the stress that is held there, and without the full exhale, we leave the stale air in our lungs leaving little space for fresh air to come in.

We live the way we breathe.

When we experience staleness in our day, and in our lives, changing the breath to make it full and complete can offer the freshness it needs to move forward and up. It can’t hurt to try– it doesn’t cost a dime, and the upside is limitless. It keeps us grounded and connected to something bigger than what we see before us.

FEARbreath is consciousness

Need a pranayam (breathing exercise)? Try this. Let me know how it works for you!

Relationships

I am who I am and that is that,

I am who you are looking back,

You are who I am, can you imagine that?

-Guru Singh Khalsa

Do you know what makes relationships so fun? Knowing that the other person is simply a reflection of you. There is no ‘other person’. Which means, in essence, we are playing with ourselves. Ha-ha!

Relationships are mirrors, reflecting the current status of our relationship to Self.

When I am disconnected with myself, so are my connections to others.  Likewise, when I am fully in my own space, my connection to others couldn’t be better.

Everything is feedback.

What I experience through my relationships reveal if I am lying to myself or if I am living authentically; if I am giving myself away or if I value myself. This awareness is a gift, for it allows me to change something in myself when I don’t like what I see in the other person, or in my connection with the other person. It is like realizing that I am in a dream, and then finding that I can control what I do in my dream. Taking control of our dreams gets easier with practice. Same of our lives. Anyway, I am all that I have in my control, though my thoughts and actions seem to ripple out and affect change in everything else around me. More feedback! Sometimes I like what I see, and sometimes I don’t. On the other hand, to try and change another person is like trying to comb my hair through the mirror… gotta laugh at myself for trying.