Self Care

What is self care for you and how does self care unfold in your life right now?

In reflecting on this vast and important topic, I was reminded of the Buddhist practices of Maitri, a Sanskrit word meaning unconditional friendliness; and Metta, a Pali word meaning loving kindness.  Making friends with yourself.  What does having a gentle and kind attitude towards yourself feel like in your bodymind right now?  Then add unconditional:  what does this feel like?  No limits, no boundaries, nothing is left out, all is included.  How does this land and feel in your state of being? 

What does it actually look like to treat ourselves with unconditional friendliness on a day to day basis?  You’d think that this is a relatively simple practice to apply, but for most of us it is a struggle.  Negative self-talk and an ever-increasing business permeate our lives:  racing thoughts, judgements, social media craziness and a flood of information affects our ability to stay grounded.  Things are changing faster than our capacity to keep up with them.  These changes – technological, geophysical and social – are happening more quickly than our psyche’s ability to adapt, which puts a huge strain on our nervous systems, leaving us feeling overwhelmed and disorientated. 

Maitri can be seen as a form of self care.  Self care is a growing and necessary awareness in our culture right now.  We need this practice so much in our world at this time of challenge:  true friendliness with ourselves.

The Buddha said: “You can search throughout the entire Universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere.  You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire Universe deserve your love and affection.”

Any form of spiritual practice that includes somatic movement and meditation, and cultivates listening, self awareness and embodiment, are great forms of self care.  These practices of enquiry open the door to who we really are.  And what life is really like for us.  We realise we can’t pretend any more: we can’t be the person we think we are supposed to be or who we are expected to be by our families and society. 

We have become masters at turning away from the difficult and uncomfortable things about ourselves and about our life that we don’t want to look at, acknowledge and feel.  Embodiment practices unravel this habit.  The body doesn’t lie; if we are listening, it shows us what we need in any particular moment.  Then we are faced with a choice.  Do we reject this part of our self that we don’t like and judge, or de we cultivate Maitri and open our state of being to include and accept all of ourselves, warts and all?    

Maitri means not lying to ourselves, it means maintaining a sense of humour and a fundamental feeling of deep and true compassion toward ourselves.  Being honest means being able to say, “OK, I see this mean side and I’m still going to treat myself with kindness”.  Friendliness and care toward our self is not indulgent.  Applying the principle of Maitri is about maintaining a relationship with pain, difficulty, shame and guilt.  Happiness comes from within: learning to sit and be with discomfort, failure and embarrassment is how the seeds of true happiness are planted. 

Learning to be at home in our bodymind, accepting all parts of ourselves, the judgemental and unkind aspects, and bouncing back using the gentle practice of Maitri.  This taking care of our hearts and minds with the same diligence as we take care of our bodies, is a freeing and empowering way to live.

If you feel called to explore, experience and cultivate deeper aspects of self care, please join me at these upcoming events:

Self Care Workshop: 24th March 8:30am – 4:30pm

An invitation to join Monja, Wendy and a group of movement and meditation practitioners to discover, explore and experience what Self Care looks and feels like in ourselves and in our lives. We will be working with the somatic practices of Feldenkrais® – Awareness through Movement; and Somatic Meditation – Meditating with the Body.  Email for more information and to book.

Care of Self Retreat: 20th – 22nd April, Thirsty Falls Guest Farm, Magaliesburg

An invitation to slow down, rest and reconnect:  to open into deep receptivity and listen to how your body, heart and mind are feeling; and to honour what your being needs in each moment to replenish and revitalise.  An invitation to return home to embodiment, honesty, wholeness and aliveness.  Email for more information and to book.

When our inner attitude softens and changes, the world around us looks and feels different; creating a ripple effect of wellbeing into our families, communities and country. 

With love
facilitating your somatic and psychological process from Open-Hearted Presence

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