Beyond Self Care

 

There I was in Bali, spiraling rice terraces imprinting the surrounding land as far as I could see. And glimmers of golden hues as the locals placed adorned flowers and incense in the street.

I was partly straddling a motorbike as I dropped my map {yeah like a paper map}. I held the bike between my legs, leaned everything to the right to pick up the map - and my water bottle fell out from my bag. Simultaneously my big hoop earring got caught on the handle and I was realizing that gravity works. It was a fast and frenzied struggle to multitask everything going on and somehow bring the whole situation back to the middle line so I could stop working so hard and go enjoy the sacred water temple. 

Talk about sudden overwhelm. I was able to tell myself to chill out and change it up - but sometimes things are ongoing, or we don't have much say about everything we have to do! And figure out!

If you're like me and hang out on the excitable and passionate side, you know what overwhelm is like. And it's like "What do I do?!"

And then you realize that maybe you're asking the wrong question - because maybe there's nothing you can do and you've done plenty, so you look within yourself to find some other way of dealing with it. 

As a woman, when I'm being extremely analytical and solving problems, or too far on my "masculine" side in that way, I'm way less able to balance out my stress hormonally and so it's not time to think about what to do to fix this - but about how can I be with this.

Self-care helps, but it only works if we know what we're trying to balance.

 

Self-Care

I'm tired of the phrase. To be honest, I think it makes it sound selfish and kind of woo-woo.

What are we really aiming for with "self-care"? What does that really mean?

I know we're trying to find a way to verbalize the act of promoting good health, peace of mind, and - I'll add - attaining understanding of our own being. 

The first part of it is to have an understanding of what we need in order to come back into our own unique blend of feminine|masculine qualities. To look at life's demands and see how that fits in with the way we want to be. Then doing what we need to do to get back to a place where we can allow our body to flow, metabolize stress and just actually start to calm down.

 

INTEGRATION AND HARMONY OF OPPOSITES 

There were two birds, one white and one black. They were temporarily tied to a pole with two ropes. They constantly tried to fly away to freedom. Then for a while they rested peacefully near the pole. 

These birds represent our qualities. Each of us have opposing forces within us - feminine|masculine, yin|yang, thought|action - and true self-care ultimately means awakening both sides and balancing somewhere in the middle.

It's about expansion of inner awareness combined with action in the outside world. 

I aspire to always unfold inner awareness. Can I at the same time have a total concern with work and life activities?

Yoga passed down has taught me that when breath is balanced between the two nostrils, there is a balance between wakefulness to the outside world and absorption in the inner world of the mind.

At the heart of balancing our mental and our vital energy - is breathing - because it's the gateway between the two where a life full of natural self-care begins to flow. 

 Art by Allison Kunath

Art by Allison Kunath

 

Getting those moments - where are they at?

Where do you get peace and quiet in your daily life? How does that feel? Let's find a way to get you more of that because it helps you feel good, right? 

It could mean pulling into a parking spot and staying in the car to finish listening to that song that's on that you really like. Or singing along!

In your routine, where do you already get a sense of calm, concentration? Really think about if there's a thing that you do...

Those are the magic spots in which to place a little of something that's good for you, my personal favorites are alternate nostril breathing or these types of micro meditations.

     

    Five Categories of benefits

    • Physical Benefits

    Through nerve impulses, the flow of the breath in both nostrils is directly correlated to the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system {right nostril} and parasympathetic {left nostril} nervous systems. The former is the speeding of life processes and the later is conserving the body's energy.  Since this happens automatically, we're rarely aware of these vital counterbalancing systems.

    • Energetically

    Consider running for example, you need fortitude you're not going to hold your breath or have it be scattered and irregular. You'd bring all your focus into consistent breaths - which gives you stamina and vitality. By balancing our breathing - serious oomph comes to us - more of our life force.

    • Mental Attitude

    On a mental and emotional level, we all have different needs to help us relieve stress - it's an art and a science. I've found that if we just do the breathing - it works on the mind - and we don't have to try hard. And that it's possible to have an attitude of introversion - even during strenuous work. 

    • Wisdom

    We must first navigate the seas of our turbulent and busy minds before we are able to rise above the waves of thoughts that pull us away from our center. With practice, we're able to view ourselves from a distance, so to speak. We have the ability to step back and view it from a better perspective - inviting intuition and insight. 

    • Something More

    When we, like the birds, finally rest peacefully by the pole for some moments, we create space in our lives to experience a deeper peace. Given the world we live in, it's just not going to be like this 24-7.

    But it will come in waves, gradually increasing over time until we're much less likely to get caught up in the daily dramas we get so overwhelmed with.

     

    Final Thoughts and a challenge 

    I hope this has shed some light in some way and that you've had some insights. By now you've perhaps realized two things:

    1) You can build on what you're already doing to get "self-care" moments.

    2) When your breathing is balanced - it is a way to get the most benefit.

    In conclusion, we discussed looking at the ways we're off balance as we go through life with our own unique swirls of opposing forces.

    And how can we feel who we really are? Without addressing this, we can do all the "self-care" we want - but to what end?

    We've discussed the meaning of balance as self care at the following levels:

    Physically, in relation to the nervous system and in turn the organs and function of the entire body. Mentally, in regards to energy flow and direction of thoughts. Through inner awareness and outer expression. If we reject either one - we find obstacles on the path to bliss. 

    Lastly, how nurturing our ability to be inward focused and also participate in the world is essential - and it's really hard. Thankfully, it's a lifelong lesson and there are lots of tools passed to us by teachers. 

     

    challenge

    Step 1: Set realistic expectations for yourself

    Step 2: Determine what you're looking for

    Step 3: Take your moment(s)

    Step 4: Keep it organic and recognize where it's difficult

    Step 5: Integrate and keep self-caring

     

    With Love,

    Lauren

     

     

    Lauren Ziegler