Gift Your Self: Self Care Rituals
© Isaac Mehegan
In the past I was always busy. I even had to make an appointment in my diary to manage a soothing bath. I didn’t question this level of busyness, but saw it as a natural consequence of my demanding job. To that ‘old me’, being too busy was itself a sign of being successful. In hindsight I can see that it made me happy, because I felt that as long as I was busy I was ‘important’. That is what I thought. What a false interpretation! Nowadays I still take soothing baths and a whole lot more, without needing to pencil my appointments with myself in any diary. So what has shifted and what is the ‘whole lot more’ that I am referring to?
The inner shift
Let us start with the shift. It has everything to do with aiming to stay grounded in Self as opposed to self. ‘So what does that mean?’ I hear you ask. I already talked a bit about Self Love in a previous article – read HERE – which would be an important ‘step one’ for seriously considering commitment to self care. In that article I referred to several Self-realized spiritual teachers who I recommend reading or listening to. But how to explain the distinction between self and Self in a few words?
Writer Aurora Clawson has put it quite nicely: “There is only one Self. All other references are related to mind’s identification with ego, and ego’s identification with the world.” Dr. Joe Dispenza – an international lecturer and author – refers to Self as “going beyond space and time,” something the ‘old me’ would have scoffed at.
Now I understand, having experienced some shifts in awareness, what it is he is referring to. What I am is not limited to this body, this mind. Each of us is the whole. Another contemporary teacher, Rupert Spira, compares it to being the room, versus being what fills it. Identifying with the ‘backdrop’ (the room, which is ‘presence’ and who we truly are), as opposed to whatever is temporarily occupying it (furniture, be it thoughts or emotions of sadness or anger or happiness), will make for a completely different experience of life. The moment you shift your perspective your outlook will be new.
So, it follows that:
“I am not talking about self-improvement (a double-digit billion dollar industry) – which would be the equivalent of focusing on inviting the best emotions – or furniture, rearranging it and so on – at this point. I will not go into the usual things that typical over-achievers will just add to the to-do list, and unlikely feel better from ticking them off (daily meditation, etcetera…). Instead, I offer some practices and habits that can support the quest to get to the root of things, to a new perspective – to being the room, come whatever may (as in emotions, the “furniture”).
Self care for a sense of space and ease
The moment you shift your perspective about anything, you create a new outlook. That new outlook makes it almost impossible not to form new, supportive habits. You might want to think of it as redecorating, adding furniture that can always be changed again as you progress.
Here are some of my own rituals; rituals that provide a sense of space and ease – even (or perhaps especially) during times when I am juggling challenging tasks and issues in my life.
Walk in nature.
Simply walking in nature I feel myself connect with Source Energy, beyond space and time.
I always start with setting an intention, which can be very specific (‘do not let what so-and-so said get you down’) or as vast as nature itself (‘open up to connect to Universal Source’).
This intention-setting I do just as I start walking. During my walk, ever so often I stop and gaze up to the open skies and connect to the present moment. I take a deep breath and raise both arms into the air to call for the Universal Light to enter and flow through my body. Once its brightness moves on down into the ground, I call on the Grounding Force – again, imagine the light – to enter into my body and travel upwards through it.
I repeat this several times until I feel fully connected to All That Is. As I continue on my walk, I feel my energies shifting, continuously. Nowadays, “Forest Baths” are prescribed in the West by medical practitioners. I say, don’t wait to connect with nature until you need to see a doctor (due to burn-out or whatever) who will prescribe this medicine. It is much better to start now. You deserve it, and it is free!
Hug a tree.
The forest is great for the above-said walks, though all natural settings work. When in the forest, however, I always make sure to stop and hug a tree. Along the path that I normally take, I have chosen a special tree, my ‘healing tree’. It is an old sequoia (giant redwood). Deeply rooted in Mother Nature, she stands radiating strength, support and wisdom.
Any tree that calls you will do!
Take a deep breath to centre yourself, then gently place your ear close to the trunk and listen to the messages of the tree. I feel they are coming from Mother Nature, my Higher Self. I hug the tree for as long as I feel like doing so. Staying closely connected, I listen carefully for a message, emptying myself of expectation.
You may not believe me, but the tree does talk to me. She guides me, sometimes with very subtle advice, sometimes telling me strongly to take action. I always make a mental note when receiving any advice from my Higher Self. Try it for yourself (and then you might believe me)!
Go organic and learn to cook new dishes.
During my many travels I have been fortunate enough to try many different cuisines. But I have to say that some of the best food I have ever had was served on a farm in South East India. It was just so much more tasty than other foods, I suppose because it was so full of nutrients from happy soil.
Run by Krishna McKenzie, Solitude farm in Auroville uses only organically grown, local and vegan foods, and the principle is Masanubo Fukuoka’s “do nothing” farming. In my previous life (constant careering and jet-setting) I would have scoffed at “do nothing”; now I love the idea. I thought ‘I’ was doing everything. Now I see that, as Fukuoka said, it is most essential to let nature play a dominant role to the maximum extent possible. I am part of nature, and nature does it perfectly; no need to fret – except for perhaps strengthening the connection to nature.
For this, I am looking into the local, seasonal foods that I can find where I live. Experimenting to find what is healthy, ideally organic, and delicious. Not only do I enjoy the process itself, but I feel that it is true what they say, that what grows around us does so because it helps support our bodies in line with the varying seasons. This should not feel like a chore, and may best suit those who have already managed to make space and time in their schedules to cook their own food. These days it is not a given, with so much focus on convenience!
Read inspirational quality books.
Believe it or not, your Higher Self is ready to make sure that you are given the messages you need to receive at different moments in time.
Always keep a book on the ready, in case you complete one or want to shift between two books depending on the mood (this will suit some people!). Be alert to what people recommend to you and where your eyes happen to fall in the café / bookstore / shelves of a friend’s house. Check with yourself (“Am I intrigued?”) and let yourself be guided with regards to whether you want to read a particular book.
We are here to learn, always, as long as we are alive. Right now I am reading Joseph Benner’s The Impersonal Life, and I have to say that there are moments when my Higher Self speaks, loud and clear, directly to ‘little me’ as I do so. This is the most precious guidance, and it fascinates me how another person’s written words can help me start or maintain a dialogue with my Self. I find that reading is one of the best ways to ensure that my focus remains on Self as opposed to self. And what a lovely feeling it is to curl up on the sofa with an exciting and deeply meaningful read!
Try a Vibration Power Plate.
This one is only for those feeling relaxed enough not to get into competition mode around body shape. Gym-like physical exercise may bring on stress if we tend to compare our bodies to the bodies of others. Using a Power Plate we can train at home, in private, as opposed to in the glare of or while glaring at others.
It is not for body-beautiful (OK, it is a little! ) but for health.
A relatively new arrival in the world of passive exercise, this equipment helps strengthen the immune system and the body as a whole. It is especially useful during the North European winter, when we may otherwise tend to hibernate and not move about enough. I can use it whilst watching an amusing movie or an inspirational YouTube video, and as it saves me time not going to the gym I have more free time at hand – not for working but for relaxing!
Activating the body’s response to vibration, muscles are engaged in a controlled manner without too much effort (OK, it does take some effort!). The Vibration Power Plate is not a substitute for other forms of physical exercise, but it does nicely complement them.
Last but not least, nip in the bud any tendency to ‘be busy for the sake of being busy’. Such traits may seem to do you good, but are actually taking you away from caring for yourself. Take positive action and schedule some do-nothing time every day! And laugh, especially at yourself .
Food for your Soul is a regular column featuring short posts for moments of reflection – to look at life from a different perspective (should you choose to!). Invest a few minutes and allow your thoughts to ponder. Awareness creates choice.
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