Nurturing the Self

If not now, when?
We need to love ourselves, now.
Why not now?
Are you too busy?
Of course you’re busy.
We’re all busy giving.
We give and we give until… we have no more of us to give.
No more of anything left for ourselves.
Then, we get to wake up and do it all over again.
Ever mention or think of a task and roll your eyes?
Or think of someone that may demand a bit more than their fair share of your time and sigh?
That’s you needing Self-care.
Family, friends, bosses, co-workers… no one is immune to being “that guy” in our lives at some point. (Spoiler alert: WE are THAT guy for others sometimes, too;)
In Pantañjali’s Yoga Sūtras, the threads of ancient wisdom that offer guidelines for living a meaningful and purposeful life, we are directed back to the Self.
(Yes, “Self” with a captial “S”-you know, like in “Superman.” Can you imagine Superman’s “s” being lower case on the fancy leotard his Mom made him? Of course not).
But I digress.
We are directed back to the Self because we’re too busy taking care of everyone else that we literally need to be reminded how important WE are.
Go ahead.
Run yourself ragged.
Then what might follow?
Resentment? Anger? Or, worse.
An uneasiness WITH the Self.
An imbalance.
A dis-ease.
Sickness… and possibly, disease.
Not paying attention to our needs makes us sick.
Imagine if we celebrated our Selves as often as we DO something for someone else?
I did an experiment once-a long, long time ago.
I took two Ball jars and my son’s giant bag of marbles.
I marked the first jar with a pink heart.
And the other jar with a circle.
Every time I did something for someone else, a marble went into one of the jars-when I tended to something for myself-plink-my jar got a marble.
Guess what happened?
I ran out of marbles. (Pun intended).
You can guess which jar ate the most marbles.
And another telling detail… which symbol do you think represented me?
If you thought the Heart, you’d be mistaken. So I thought about the fact that I couldn’t even think of a clever, or a more appropriate symbol to represent ME than a giant empty circle.
Anyhoo… during my very non-scientific experiment, while of course I knew most of my tasks were for others, my family, friends, my children’s school, I realized coming out of a corporate job, meeting friends for lunch, practicing Yoga, I really thought I was paying better attention to myself than I was.
In fact, every time I dropped a marble in the circle jar I felt accomplished!
Yet, doing for our Selves should not be so much an accomplishment, as Self-care should be business as usual.
We can certainly agree that practicing Yoga has our hearts exploding all over town!
We don’t leave class angry, right?
So what happens if you keep experiencing “akrodha,” non-anger… or “ahiṃsā,” non-harming and compassion for all living beings (including you-know-who) more and more often…?
Habit!
Practicing Self-love becomes habit.
Just as disregarding Self-care became habit… (I know, it’s mind blowing but so, so logical, right?!)
Self-care needs to be normalized.
Oh yes, we LOVE to do for others-we feel fulfilled when we serve, that’s human nature.
BUT…. there’s just so much kindling in the bucket before you need to go chop some more wood!
So why can’t we do for our Selves as if it’s a no-brainer?
How did we get here?
Who cares.
We’re having the conversation!
Yay, US!
The first rule of Yoga?
“Do.” (True story!)
The first Sūtra simply is translated to “And now we do Yoga.”
When learning about Yoga we soon realize “Yoga” isn’t just physical movement on the mat.
It’s movement in Heart and mind.
The first Sūtra does not include the word “how” because we need to take small sips.
Like a fine wine or a hot cup of chamomile.
There’s no guzzling.
(Though we’ve all wanted to guzzle now and then).
When practiced properly and safely, in Yoga, as in life, there’s only slow, sweet (and sometimes bitter) sips.
We learn there’s room to grow… to explore… to marinate… to Self heal, to…. just be.
Take your Self on a journey within.
We don’t need a mirror.
We see our Selves every time we close our eyes.
All too clearly.
If you don’t like what you see, change direction.
It’s nobody’s business but your own.
I’ll say that again: It’s nobody’s business BUT YOUR OWN.
“Do.”
Each new sunrise is an invitation from the Universe to appreciate and celebrate your Self, the one person that’s been with you from the very beginning and will be with you until you’re ready to make the journey Home.
Every answer to any and every question you can possibly ask is already inside you.
(But You knew that).
Your axe is waiting.

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