“Most of us were taught and conditioned to take care of others before, or instead of ourselves. Then, if there’s any left over, we try to practice some kind of self care. If you tend to your own feelings first, you will have more love and energy available for others.” This quote is taken from one of Planet Sark’s Great Life Letters which I received earlier this year in my inbox.
It’s so true. (And I don’t think I’m making too much of a sweeping statement to say that this can be even more true for women, especially mothers!)
How many of us truly take care of ourselves by tending to our own feelings? Or if we do, how many of us feel a sense of guilt for doing so?
Here’s a quick test. When was the last time you said ‘no’ to a request from somebody else because you knew that what they were asking didn’t feel right or wouldn’t be good for you? And you said ‘no’ without feeling guilty and profusely apologizing?
Chances are, you might be struggling to come up with an answer.
Pay yourself some attention
If we pay attention to our own needs and feelings we can begin to work on ourselves to release some of the habits and behavioural patterns which lead us to feel stuck in our lives.
Learn to check in with yourself throughout the day. Notice how you feel. Where do you feel it in your body? Where do certain emotions or thoughts show up in your body? Notice, without judgment or lots of analysis. Bring some mindful awareness to yourself. Learn to observe the being that is you.
What do you want from life? What’s important to you?
Focus your awareness on what you need, what you want to achieve and tell yourself that you can and will achieve it. Visualize yourself achieving it and really feel it.
Allow yourself to become you.
And if we do that, those around us will pick up on our change in focus, attitude and energy.
If we work on ourselves we will automatically help those around us because when our sense of well-being is healed and strengthened we have so much more compassion, energy and awareness to bring to our interactions with others.
You will become able to act in your life rather than react.
The focus of yoga
I love the practice of yoga because it comes from a place which says you have everything you need already inside you.
You are perfect just as you are.
Each of us has peace, stillness, love, compassion, acceptance, abundance already there. It’s a case of rediscovering and reconnecting to that.
Somehow, over time, our life experience leads us to forget that. We lose our connection with ourselves. Whether through the materialistic messages we’re bombarded with through the media and advertising, or through painful individual experiences such as loss, illness or toxic relationships.
Yoga can help us to cultivate self-awareness and self-acceptance.
By becoming more aware of our bodies through yoga posture practice; rediscovering our true, deep, restorative breath through Pranayama and practising Pratyahara, or withdrawal of the senses, which allows us to bring our awareness and focus inwards; letting go and just being in relaxation practice; or learning to notice and let go of our thoughts and emotions through mindfulness meditation, we are learning to reconnect to our true self.
Give yourself permission
There is nothing wrong with looking after number one.
Give yourself permission to look into yourself and to look after yourself. Make some time for what you need to nurture and heal the inner you which may have been ignored for so much of your life.
Often we say that we don’t have enough time to do the things which can nurture ourselves. But is that really true or do we make excuses because we’ve got used to the rush and stress and are a little bit afraid as to what might happen, what we might feel, if we actually do let go?
So many times students at my yoga classes have said to me, at the end of the 15-minute relaxation with which I always end my class, that they would never normally give themselves the time just to relax and do nothing, and that they really appreciated and enjoyed the experience.
So, look after yourself. Allow yourself to relax. Allow yourself to let go. Allow yourself to be.
What do you do to look after number one?