A lot of what I do professionally centers around the concept of self-care. In particular, how to empower those I teach to take care of themselves. Everyone's self-care routing is as unique as their fingerprints. Even if two people need the same thing, the way they approach it and their reasons for doing it can be miles apart. There is a lot of dialogue around the why, what and how we should take care of ourselves - sleep hygiene, meditation, diet - but I feel there can be a lack of follow up. That an honest examination of what the application of self-care looks like is missing.
My experiences have taught me how vital consistency, intention, and self-love are to this process. I have learned how active and demanding process of self-care can be. Self-care is not something I pick up when I are feeling run down, it is a practice, one that I renew each day.
Stepping into my career as a yoga teacher and my work with Living Yoga Dallas has given me more space to contemplate the ritual of my self- care practices. Now that I no longer work in a busy, loud environment on a daily basis, I recognize how much I need silence in my routine. I need time to put my phone, my computer, the music, the podcasts away. To honor my need for silence, I practice without music, I read, I journal, I do whatever I can without a screen that allows me to be quiet and rest.
But it is difficult to put the phone away, to turn off the Instagram notifications, to stop posting silly pictures of my dogs. Quiet time alone with myself is what nourishes me but it also requires me to be present and honest with myself. Some days that is easier than others.
In the ebbs and flows of my self-care routine (and there have been many), I have come recognize several truths about my relationship with my self-care practice.
Because my practice demands honesty, it is the first thing I will want cast aside when I feel low, insecure, or disappointed with myself. It can be overwhelming to tune into the full front of my emotions when they rise and fall in turbulent waves. But my practice is also where I have learned to process and understand my emotions.
One of the strangest things I have learned is how much work I must put into my self-care practice. I will not be inspired to properly take care of myself at the end of the day when my brain is full and my body is tired. Instead I choose to pepper my daily schedule with self-care practices. This way these practices also become a part of the normal routine and appear to be less work over time.
My self-care practice is just that, a practice. One that I must move through every day along with my other responsibilities. This practice is a relationship, a conversation with myself that evolves and changes over time just as I change and evolve as a person.
However, it is the work, honestly, practice, and intention that creates true self-care. As I dive deeper, this beautiful and nourishing practice has arisen. It almost happened without me noticing, all of a sudden I was not as scared of my emotions, I was not resisting time spent on my mat or putting away my phone. My self-care practice crept slowly, like a vine, through the fabric of my day. Some days it is still work, some days I would rather binge watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer or go shopping but slowly I am learning how to distinguish between what nourishes me and what drains me.
I have found wisdom and power in the simple truth of this practice. My truth is that I am not my best self without my self-care practice. It is my self-care practice that allows me to grow, learn, and thrive. At the end of the day, I hope we can call learn what it means to have our own practice and see how that can shape our lives for the better.