Self-Care: An Act of Love (and what this really means)
Self-care has been one of those buzz words you’ve likely seen floating around for quite some time, typically accompanied by images of leisurely baths, hot stone massages, or soulful yoga classes. It’s an idea that gets thrown around like confetti. And while those practices can absolutely be incorporated into our lives and welcomed as self-care, I would like to make one thing quite clear, they are not where the train stops.
So, then, what does self-care really mean?
To help us dive into this trending practice, let’s take a look at another word: Ahimsa. Ahimsa is a yogic term, and one of the 5 yamas (moral observances) found in the 8 limb path of yoga. It translates to the non-harming of all creatures, by land, air, and sea. It’s a principle encouraged in many yoga classes as a way of living and being. Now, you may be asking yourself, “So what does this have to do with self-care?” Well, quite a bit actually.
I’ve recently been discussing the observance of ahimsa with my yoga students. As it stands, most people would agree that non-harming, or non-violence seems obvious. We tell our kids, “don’t hit” and “be kind”. The majority have heard the saying, “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”, or are at least familiar with the Golden Rule: treat others as you wish to be treated. But what if we were to take non-harming to an even deeper level?
Self-care, compassion, non-suffering… you can shape this idea into many forms. At the heart of self-care lies deep, soul care. It filters beyond the surface, beyond the primping and beautification of our bodies. At times it will look like setting boundaries, learning to say no, or doing the inner work of healing our wounds. It may even invite us to lean into the darkness of our discomfort to help us discover new depths of love and care in ways unfamiliar. Hopefully it teaches us how to suffer less; how to extend ourselves the same level of compassion that we so readily offer up to those around us. Self-care may look like grace or softness. It may look like saying no to bullshit, standing in your truth, and becoming an advocate for your own personal peace and well-being.
There is nothing wrong with a day at the spa or treating yourself to an afternoon of kid-free adventure with your best friend. Pamper yourself and learn to do it and love it without guilt! But also keep in mind that true self-care works at a level unseen to the eye. If you take that yoga class, allow yourself to be there for more than the deep stretch. Use it as a tool to cultivate mindful awareness. Use it as an experience to connect with Source. Use it as a time to let down your guard and feel into the deep well of emotional stirrings.
Give yourself full permission to explore the multi-faceted layers of this hot topic. Commit yourself to a regular practice of self-care using any and all of the tools available to you, because when it comes right down to it, self-care is ultimately an act of true love for your tender heart.