I wrestle with the current cultural understanding of Self Care as taking time for one’s self. One assumes here that there is access to self Care practices such as retreats, spa services and even time. Even if these practices are available, one can take this time and refresh but if one’s basic beliefs still harbor fear and self loathing, how does this change anything but our schedule? Granted, time to breath and practices of restoration can potentially provide clarity and insight, but how many of us continue to operate “business as usual” without shifting our attitudes and beliefs about scarcity and abundance after taking a vacation, going to a yoga class, receiving Reiki or massage? And does this extend beyond ourselves? Self absorption is not self love.
I teach yoga in spaces where self care is survival. Where basic beliefs about oneself has to transform from beliefs, thoughts and actions that reflect self destruction, self loathing and lack of value to believing in one’s inherent worth and right to exist with space for accountability and compassion. For me increasingly in all spaces I teach, Yoga is the practice of paying attention to being alive. Becoming curious about what this means in each and every moment. The invitation to abide in that space between the inhale in our first moment on this planet and the exhale of our last breath on this beautiful, messy planet.
My own journey of self care and teaching this and Compassion Fatigue to service providers, those who work with secondary trauma and likely whose wounds have called them to their work (as mine has) has shifted and changed with my own growing awareness of the possibilities of authentic, embodied connections with Self, the God of our understanding and each other.
So, self Care as self realization in my definition is connecting to your basic beliefs about how you show up on the planet. So, for me right now, self care is the practice of being grounded and present in each and every moment as it unfolds, allowing these moments To unfold and responding in a way that affirms and honors your life and inherent worth and also that of all beings. If we are practicing abiding in this, we will be aware of choosing skillfull action whether that be going on a vacation, committing to recovery, abstaining from gossip and caring for others without need for recognition, accolades or validation.
Jesus’s new command strikes to the heart of this. In John 13:34 he commands us “Love one another as I have loved you.” What??? We have to love others as Jesus, who was murdered by the state for disrupting the social order? Self Care does not mean self comfort. It means being grounded in love, rather than fear. It means allowing vulnerability and curiousity. It means being committed to the practice of paying attention to being alive and to what that means in your life and what it means to recognize that in others. It means falling in love with life, with people, with babies in the supermarket, with wise elders who have lived with loss and celebration, with our pets who offer us unconditional love, with trees, with butterflies, with all species and landscapes, languages and ways of preparing food.
It is absolutely essential that we practice this right now in our world, at this particular time. Affirming the right to exist and inherent value and worth of beings who are marginalized and targeted because of how they show up in numerous ways is a radical act of loving and caring for one another. Let’s do this. Let’s love anyway.
Remembering all who lost their precious lives in the Orlando massacre.