Especially now, in these times of Covid with the stress of everyday uncertainty and what feels like continuous loss, the reminder to “self-care” keeps popping up. Little ditties on your social media accounts, ads for spa treatments, vacations, and wine therapy are abundant. Published “self-care” lists suggest such things like binge-watching your favorite TV show, buying flowers for yourself, taking social media breaks, and organizing a cluttered space. Burn a candle. Take a bubble bath. Go on a hike.
Sounds wonderful, right? Sign me up! (Except for the organizing clutter one, let’s be real.)
Lately, the world around us feels like it is imploding. It seems like everyone I talk to is going through something right now. Clearly, the time for “self-care” is now.
With all of those suggestions out there being offered by well intentioned people, I invite you to ask yourself before engaging in a “self-care” activity, is this merely a distraction from my pain or does this activity give me the opportunity to let go of the fear and pain that is currently living within me? With all of the current losses we are going through, big and small, coupled with all of the uncertainty in the uncharted territory of Covid, you can bet there is pain in your heart asking to be freed. It shows up in many ways…tightness in your chest and/or jaw, traps, and lower back. It’s both exhaustion and the inability to get a good night’s sleep. It’s the relentless spinning of the thoughts in your head. It’s your desire to stay busy or the inability to get anything done. Anxiety. Depression. It’s how quickly you get angry, how easily you blame. These are all part of a shared human experience, not to be judged, but instead to hear the call of the heart, which is saying (and sometimes screaming), “It’s time to free my pain now.”
For those of you that are called to walk, hike, or run, be conscious of your breath. Join your body and breathe into the pain of your heart (with intension) with your in-breath, and cleanse and let go with your out-breath. Feel your feet hit the ground. Build your connection to the earth. Center yourself.
For those of you called to be in nature, receive the beauty with your in-breath, and release pain with your out-breath.
Dance and sing with the intention of moving energy through you, receiving love and light with your in-breath, letting go of that which no longer serves you with your out-breath. When lighting a candle, grow your inner light by breathing in light with your in-breath and breathing out darkness with your out-breath. In your bubble bath, receive the gifts of the water that surround you with your in-breath, the stillness, the warmth, and the serenity. Let go of what is troubling you with your out-breath. Get the idea?
Join your breath when engaging in any activities that you love (and especially the activities that you don’t). Deepen your ground and your oneness to all that is. This is how we truly take care of ourselves…by attending to the request of our hearts in the most intimate way. Receiving, and letting go. Returning to the flow of life. Growing our love. Honoring the request of our heart instead of distracting ourselves from it.
So as you prepare to “self-care” by pouring your favorite glass of wine and settling in to binge Netflix, pause. Take a few moments to return to your breath, and inhabit your body. Your enjoyment will deepen, your laughs will be louder, and your heart will be lighter.