Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cultivating a practice for self-care

Why is it so hard to attend to our Inner Garden? To nourish ourselves on an inner level, to keep our commitments to ourselves to practice good self-care? The feedback I got from my last retreat brought this up - how can I continue to make time for myself, and why is it so hard?

Like eating your cereal every morning or brushing your teeth, nourishing your inner needs is a practice. It’s not something you can just think about once in a while, or muse about while on vacation.  It is a daily practice that you build into your life.

Whether you decide that the best way to nourish your inner garden is to surround yourself with beautiful plants, move to a house by the water, write in your journal every morning, or do yoga on a regular basis, the important thing is that you follow through with a commitment to yourself. But how do we do this?

It’s easy to be lead by the outside demands, by the crazy whirlwind of activity, work, children, hobbies and responsibilities to others we need to fulfill. There's never enough time, we moan. But we often don’t even put ourselves on the list. Start by asking, in what area is your commitment to self-care lacking? Make a list of what is missing to create balance – is it a spiritual need, a physical need, an emotional need? Where do you feel supported and fulfilled, and where do you feel less ‘full’?

For instance, if I look at my own life, I have a few checks and balances. On the inner garden side, I have had a long standing practice of sitting meditation, every morning for over 30 years. I began to do yoga about 16 years ago, and that part still feels really good. But my self-care on the physical side is not ideal – I lack cardio exercise, I huff and puff going up hills, so I know I can treat my body better by getting out and walking briskly more often, or getting on that elliptical machine hidden in the basement. It feels good when I do it. So I will concentrate on remembering how good it feels to move my body. And how lousy it feels to be the last one up the hill.

My eating habits are pretty healthy. Check. But my commitment to my writing needs more ummph. I let it slide, I do laundry, check emails, write to friends on Facebook, basically, I work without a deadline so no projects are getting to the finished piile. For instance, the interview transcrips are on hold, while I stare at the tape recorder sitting on my desk and fill my day with other 'to do's. My poetry manuscript I have been working on sporadically, when I have time.  I don’t know why I can’t make this a priority, but I think it's about believing in my own work enough to get doing it. The best solution for me will be to carve out a regular work time and not take phone calls or read emails during that time. This is a weak muscle that also needs exercise.

One way to increase your commitment to self care is to write about it in your journal. This too demands a commitment however. There will always be something in the way, something important calling your attention. A phone call, an email, a needy child, a volunteer project, a committee meeting....lack of sleep will make you sleep in and miss your appointed writing time. But if you’ve decided that you want to be more self-aware, if your intention is to be curious about your inner workings and understand your stresses, your joys, your obstacles and your achievements, writing in your journal is a very useful tool. Knowing that you will be pleased with the encounter with the Self could be the motivation you need to sit down and do it. 

Don’t let not knowing what to write about be another hurdle. If you don’t know where to start, begin with a question. What do I need to think about today? What is bothering me, causing me lack of sleep? What scenario am I rehashing in my head? What guidance am I looking for? Or simply make a list – things I am happy about, things I am dissatisfied with, people I love to be with, things that drive me crazy, ways I can take better care of my inner garden....and write. Finding a teacher and taking a class is a good way to get started, to find motivation and inspiration for things to write about, and to start a regular schedule.

With practice, you develop a thirst for the good feeling movement, meditation, or journal writing brings to your body. You develop a feeling of calm inner peace by focussing inside. Nourish that desire for peace, let it guide you towards more and more inner work.

Pay attention to how it feels, does it make you feel good? That’s what will strengthen the muscle, to correlate the feeling you get, in the moment.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Monday

I have said it before, and I'll say it again....don't listen to the Negative Self-Talk that Weary Monday morning drivels in your ear. 

It took me a couple of hours to shake off the apres-weekend fatigue, travelling, wine, good company for sure, but Monday morning it was hard to get moving.

If I listened to what my inner Critic/unfriendly inner shadow voice was whispering, I was headed for the dumps, no good, no energy, no mojo, no creativity, ready to give up on myself completely.

Fortunately, I put on some soothing Reiki music, did some yogic stretches, and drank a good cup of expresso, then after lunch I had an amazing appointment with my local chiropractor and healer who cracked a few vertebrae and got me cracking!

By mid-afternoon, I had started to shake off the fog and felt my normal self again, that is, I got out the files that needed looking at, wrote the newsletter I needed to write, and looked at my fall course work.  Ah Mondays.  They're not all the same, thank goodness, but today, it was hard to remember that the Inner Critic loves to kick me when I'm down. And that I should never ever respond or react as if that is my reality.

Anyway, it's Monday night now. Phew! I can go to bed early (now that I've watched all 3 taped episodes of So You Think You Can Dance, which kept me up late till midnight Sunday). Sweet dreams and happy Tuesday.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Divine feminine and all that

Facebook turns up so many interesting leads - I was checking it out this morning, clicking on people's links, and found an article written in Huffington Post by a guy named Arjuna, about the deep sense of worship for his wife, embodying the Divine Feminine, and his process for peeling back the layers, going deeper in relationship.

Another woman, author of Writing down the Soul, asked on her facebook link, what about the Divine Masculine? Which is always a funny sounding question because we've been trained and enforced, it's practically encoded in our DNA, at least in a traditional way, to be in relation to a Divine Masculine in the form of G-O-D.  Yahweh, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, MOhammed, Allah, hmmmm they all have that in common.

But something else came up for me, immediately. The delicious feeling I had the other night, while I was dozing, half-asleep, spread out on the bed in my little cotton nightgown, and my significant other crept into the room and moved his warm hands up and down the length of my body, squeezing the rounder bits and cressing the long back muscles. I was enjoying the tingling sensations, but still half asleep, not really roused or aroused yet.  Then he left to go change a light bulb outside, and walk the dog! leaving me in a state of anticipation for that meeting between the masculine and feminine....

here's the thing - what is divine defies description, it is 'other' yet it is familiar. It happens in trance, in meditation, in slow motion, in heightened states, in sixth senses and higher chakras.....words can't describe it. So maybe, what is meant by 'divine masculine' or feminine is just that....a place where words can't take us, but where souls meet, and touch, inside of bodies, melting our boundaries and separateness.

I don't worship that, but I adore it. I mean, I really love it when that happens. That merging that I can un-merge from. When we loosen our tight little baggage and just float in sensation together.  When we get all primal, animal, grounded ino ur bodies, and yet transcend them too. This morning I woke up with a Beatles song in my head, 'Imagine I'm in love with you, it's easy cause I know...." and then I stretched, jumped in the shower singing and remembered, oh yeah, we made love last night.  I fell asleep so satisfied, with a deep inner smile.

That union is not the same as the so-called 'divine union' of my soul with the larger Soul/Creator whatever you want to call it, that doesn't need two bodies to transport me. But it is pretty damn transcendent.

I think we're hard wired for that stuff.

have a great humid hot August dog-days kind of day,