Through the Fire
I’ve been thinking a lot, maybe too much, about self care lately. I am exploring the world of Ayurveda medicine a bit, looking at what in my diet I can change up, what can I do differently to help me feel better ? I’d like to feel better physically, having varying degrees of inflammation, depending on the day. That inflammation takes the form of aches and pains, of water retention, of phlegm. I’d like to feel better emotionally. This to me means being steadier, not big ups and downs, not feeling overwhelmed. Fatigue is both a physical symptom and an emotional one. I have a deep exhaustion from my adrenal glands and it is wearing me down in all kinds of ways. So, it’s time to try some new things, open some new doors and see what’s there to be learned.
I found a wonderful Ayurveda practitioner ( talya’skitchen) and with her encouragement am integrating quite a few new “self care” practices which I hope will become habits. Hence, the thinking about what is self care, what does it mean ?
I see it as giving myself care, and taking care of myself. I want to be careful with myself and full of care. It’s the same as tending a garden, attending to my needs.
Looking in the Thesaurus, I found some interesting word connections. A few of the listings under care – worry, caution, desire, love, management. I looked at “careless” – inattentive, negligent, unprepared, indifferent. There is also a listing for careful of – observant. Words are so fascinating, aren’t they ? I really don’t want to be full of worry and caution as I care for myself but I do want to feel love for myself, I want to manage my inner world as much as that is possible. I want to be attentive, to pay attention, to tend to my needs. I want to be observant.
I asked a few of my friends what self care meant to them. It is all very personal . It seems to come down to nourishing ourselves, to treating ourselves kindly. Self care is time for ourselves, some things just for us. The actual activities range widely from person to person. It might be time spent in a satisfying activity, such as going surfing or getting a pedicure. It might be time alone reading a good book. It might be taking an exercise class. It might be making sure they eat good food. The activity itself is not as important as the intent. I know some pretty healthy people who feel they attend to self care really well. I know people who feel guilty about the time they do spend tending to themselves. I know people who hardly do any self care, some of whom are okay with that, and some who wish they did more.
In general, I have learned a lot about myself and self care. I take pretty good care of myself, am careful with my feelings and needs. I am one of those who can feel guilty and “selfish” if I spend too much time focused on myself. I am uncomfortable with that much attention, either from others or from my own self.
My new ayurveda routines are asking me to spend a lot of time on ME, up to a few hours a day on self care. This includes things like oil pulling ( care of teeth and mouth), skin brushing ( stimulates lymph, blood, removes dead cells), abhyanga , which is using different oils and essential oils and massaging them into my skin, letting it soak in, steam inhalations, using a gua sha which is a tool that scrapes the skin and moves lymph, etc., salt scrubs with oil and essential oils, bringing stimulation and also about moving blood and lymph. Then there are other self care practices – enemas, paying more attention to preparing my food and treating as a self care activity, eating slowly and calmly, taking time for rest, taking time for play, taking time for creativity. Phew! Taking care of myself is a full time job.
As you regular readers know, my mother was not gentle with her self. She did not teach me about this. She taught me to take care of my feet and my skin,not in the sense of giving them ( me) love and tenderness but more like a chore. I did not learn from her that I could find pleasure in caring for myself. I’ve been learning this gradually over the years and find myself diving into yet another layer of the fascinating world of nurturing and nourishing myself. It’s exciting. It’s at times painful. It’s complicated.
I’m making progress. It still is pretty easy to put off a salt scrub or using the gua sha. Some days it’s too much focus on me. Some days I can really get into it and feel good. I’m realizing what a core issue it is for me. And after talking with some friends, for quite a few of us. Let’s work on changing our culture around taking time for our self care, on loving ourselves out loud. Let’s be a culture that prides ourselves in nurturing and nourishing ourselves and our loved ones. Who’s with me ??