I’m pretty sure we all know the basics, even if we don’t do them. Taking care of yourself includes a healthy diet, regular exercise, and plenty of sleep. We understand the physical part. Most of us even understand the mental and emotional parts: Be aware of what you read and watch for entertainment, avoid drama and negativity, even carefully choose what music you listen to regularly. All this has been said; you are what you consume, on all levels. I want to take the discussion a little deeper.
Balance. Balance between your own masculine and feminine energies. By being the observer and directer of your life, you can protect the feminine sacred space, while guiding the active force of the masculine. Boundaries and action. That’s the energetic blueprint of self-care.
Think of a child. The womb is the safe space for new life to develop. Even after the child enters the world, it must be nurtured and guided before it is ready to embark on its own adventure. Many of us go about life in the opposite manner, running off in all directions, without the protected space and guidance required for lasting success.
Your feminine energy is the part of you that creates a space, first in your mind then in your schedule. It needs to hold that space to encourage and guide the masculine energy of action. For example, you want to start a yoga practice. First, the idea forms in your mind, until it is so strong you do some research, and can see yourself doing yoga. You are mentally creating a space for something to grow. Then, you make room in your schedule to go to class twice a week. You are creating a space in your life to guide and encourage this new endeavor. Actually showing up and doing it is a result of your masculine energy of action. Boundaries and action.
Why break it down this way? Well, all too often we aren’t able to create lasting change, and without sufficient understanding of the process, we simply fall into shame and guilt, only adding to our frustration. By taking a step back into the role of observer, and seeing the process of change as a dance of inner energies, it allows for a new awareness.
It’s also worth mentioning what self-care isn’t, because our egos are so good at illusion and distraction. Checking-out isn’t self care. A night on the town getting drunk, vegging out in front of the tv, or treating yourself to the extra slice of cake, isn’t self-care, it’s checking out. Anything that results in a hangover or bloating isn’t care. We all do this to some degree, so don’t judge yourself, just don’t mistake it for caring for yourself.
Pampering yourself may be included in self-care, but be sure it isn’t the whole package. A trip to the spa, or a weekend retreat make great additions, but don’t make up for daily wear-and-tear. Good food, plenty of rest, meditation, and some sort of physical activity are a daily ritual of self-care. If you are always running yourself ragged, but you think it’s ok because you get a massage every week, you are using that massage as recovery. The goal is to make a life you don’t need to recover from.
And don’t forget joy. Laughter, connecting with friends, gratitude journals, and anything that lifts your heart. This may seem like a lot when you look at it as a to-do list, but it’s really an outline for a lifestyle. Self-care is right up there with shadow (ego) work in creating an amazing life. You’ll be spending every tiny moment with yourself, so it’s totally worth it. Balancing boundaries and action. Take care of you.