The Art of Self Care
Taking care of our self can sometimes take a backseat to our ‘to do’ list. And, no doubt the things on that list probably are necessary (ditch the ones that aren’t) – at some point we need to fill our own tank so we can keep going and get them done.
Self-care is not selfish. In fact being selfish is the antithesis of self-care. I’ve seen numerous personal development ‘experts’ out there promote the idea that being selfish is a good thing. No! It is not! Being so concerned with yourself that you have little regard or concern for others ultimately will see you ending up as that lonely, bitter person no-one wants to be friends with.
We require just enough concern for ourselves so that we maintain our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. In fact doing this is crucial so that we do not become a burden to others through our own neglect of self.
For most of us life is not always smooth sailing. In fact sometimes we have to navigate through long and arduous storms. Learning how to remain even-keeled in the face of life’s crazy ups and downs is what self-care is all about.
I have found no better system for self-care than the practice of Yoga. Yoga is bigger than most people are aware of. It is not just exercise! It is a whole system that leads you towards a more peaceful life.
One of the principles of Yoga is Svadhyaya – self-study or self-observance. This is the starting point for self-care. Self-observance is the practice – and it does take practice – of being able to honestly appraise our self. We need to be able to see ourselves as we are, without the filters of aggrandisement or belittlement. When we do this, then we can respond to what it is we really need, rather than react or act on inappropriate wants.
Self-observance is a major key to self-care, without it we may find ourselves chasing butterfly dreams or being dragged into dramas. Knowing ourselves means we can do those things in life which are ultimately truly meaningful and purposeful to us. In Yoga we refer to our life’s purpose as our Dharma. Allowing ourselves to get caught up in distractions within our own mind and in our daily activities can leave us feeling stressed. However, no matter how difficult the challenge, when we are on the right path, we feel lighter and a sense of accomplishment.
The art is in the practice – daily time to observe ourselves, to take stock, to notice how we are doing. The simplest place to start is to connect with our breath.
Yoga provides for us a system for living well. It gives us guidelines and practices that are simple and work…if we practice them!
My experience is that if we do not dedicate ourselves to something then we risk being hooked into everything!
Choosing to live well means choosing to live a life that is virtuous. Deciding to live this way means practicing self-observance, and catching ourselves when we fall off the wagon.
Once we are aware of ourselves, we can begin to care appropriately for ourselves. We can eat well, move well, think well, speak well, feel well, breath well – live well!
There are many, many resources out there that we can use to nurture ourselves. Aligning ourselves with people who can guide us and practice with us can give us the motivation to stay on track. And, when we feel better others tend to notice and want to learn how to do the same.
Self-care is a continual practice with rewarding benefits for not only us, but for others and the planet.
So, how can you practice self-care today?