Monday, March 02, 2015

Self-Care: What Small Daily Practice can you do?

“Most unhappy people need to learn just one lesson: how to see themselves through the lens of genuine compassion and treat themselves accordingly.” ~ Martha Beck

(from my March Newsletter)

Happy Lunar New Year,

Welcome to the gentle, dream-filled year of the Ram, symbol of o-operation, strength and determination. I am writing to you from the depths of winter here in Montreal, a still white landscape out my window. The land is sunny, most days, but caught in a polar freeze.

And I feel the need to confess something to you, who may look at me as a teacher, retreat leader or wise woman. It’s taken me a long time, but I have finally begun, at age 60, to intuit what my inner rhythm is. Especially since the empty nest years have arrived now, with more free time to be creative, volunteer my time, or just have tea with friends, it has been challenging to not be over busy. I love taking on too many projects, (I’m sure it makes me feel worthy and deserving). But lately, my body has been sending me messages of overwhelm and I have to listen.

The other day, on a teleconference about Self-Care, I heard three small words that shifted something in my inner world: small daily practices. The presenter was making self-care sound important, she was writing a PhD on the subject. I sat up and took notice. She acknowledged the challenges we face because our culture, our work and our schools don’t train us to respond to our need for feeling at ease. We are trained to look elsewhere, to treats or movies and vacations for contentment. The whole notion of tuning inwards takes practice.

While I have been practicing meditation and yoga for a long time, my daily work habits are more about running around in circles, needing to feel useful but often feeling pressured for time. Even the cat and dog take priority over my well-being! On top of that, I have some of the paradoxical characteristics of the creative personality. *

For instance, I can be wildly energetic, then crave quiet and rest; am both extroverted and introverted, needing social company and solitude in equal measure; both painfully self-doubting and wildly self-confident. “Despair alternates with bliss, despair when they aren’t working, and bliss when they are,” says Juliet Bruce.

Which means the energy vortex in my home is not always calm and flowing.
But in the words of Tami Kent, author of the book Wild Creative, there is a way to work creatively that honors inner flow. It may mean throwing out the list-making habit: “Rather than attempting to be creative in all areas at once, I follow the creative flow to the priority at hand. If I tried to make a list of everything I did, crossing off tasks in a linear manner, I would accomplish much less and with less creative insight. Instead, I live each day from the presence of my center and take direction from the guidance that arises naturally. …pausing and receiving guidance from within is the way to align with your creative channel. …Simply follow the flow.”

This was my aha moment this week, both Tami Kent and the Self-Care piece. I had had a crazy Monday, jumping up from meditation too fast to call someone who needed help making costumes– I was ready to throw away the Monday mini-retreat, that small practice that keeps me feeling grounded in my internal oasis. And in the process, I rode roughshod over my Creative Soul in panic. It turns out she had spent the night at the hospital with her daughter, and couldn’t use me until later in the week. So I thankfully returned to my journal and continued where I had left off. Inside my body, I could feel how off-kilter the rushing had made me. So this week, I decided that was the end. It does harm to my psyche as well as my body, to respond in panic to the adrenaline rush.

A lifetime of bad habits sometime overcomes our common sense or inner wisdom. I know that I want to make self-care and creative flow a habit, not just for the hour I sit to practice meditation, but at the computer, in my kitchen, and generally, all around. Small daily practices help me slow down and pause, checking-in to see how I feel and what is needed before dashing off in high gear.

I’m going to need help. I release the worry that other people may feel I am not responding quickly enough to their needs. I honour and pay attention to my own feelings. What small daily practice can you do?

One last thing: I am starting a give-away March 3 on my blog and Facebook site, with 3 great prizes – 1) an autographed copy of The Tao of Turning Fifty plus my Musemother Relaxation CD, 2) a copy of the book, and 3) a copy of the CD.

You can share this with your friends. I also want to make it to 1000 likes on my Facebook page.

TO ENTER THE CONTEST (starts TUESDAY MARCH 3) :  here is the link -



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