The secret ingredient to self-care

I have tried to write a few times over the past few months, and still I can never seem to be content with my description of what has gone on lately! How about you?
I’m thinking possibly because I am still processing my own experience, it cannot yet be put into words, especially of the lockdown here in Melbourne from July-ish to October (or was it November? We lost track of the days a bit!) 2020.
Or maybe I can never find a true story, and that will be okay. And considering that the popular comment of “we are all in this together” and how sometimes that felt not right to me. Everyone had different challenges, different experiences, different perspectives, different opportunities. But yes, we are all having this experience of “life” together, just as we always have been on planet earth.

So, I am going to kind of jump over my personal stories of lockdown, of zooming, online-schooling for my kids, and multiple daily walks of deepening my connection with nature and staying grounded.

I’m going to talk about self-care….whoa, didn’t self-care start flashing like a neon sign!

What I am in right now I could describe as an after effect of lockdown, and also living on an earth where the pandemic isn’t over.

Here in Melbourne right now we are lucky to be having so many different freedoms. When things started feeling kind of “almost normal” many were out celebrating and (in the words of the Victorian state premier, because you know we have to laugh too) getting on the beers, or perhaps more out getting in the cafes for a great cup of coffee or 3. There were also some weird feelings happening for me. And I suspect others. Seeing people in other places in the world suffering, hearing of people struggling to be able to return home to Australia, hearing of hospitals in other countries overloaded to breaking point and death tolls rising. These are people. Someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s son, someone’s friend.

My nervous system (and I am thinking many other humans on this planet, as mentioned before for different experiences, different challenges) is not at it’s most ever chilled out place.

When thinking about the world, humans on this earth suffering, the practices of self-care can seem kind of selfish sometimes.
But I believe it is necessary to be able to fill one’s own cup, because how else can we help others?

I believe that it is not selfish to care for oneself, keeping in mind that we are all connected, and we all have the ability to be of service to other beings on this earth.

I was already serious about self-care and have been infatuated with Yoga for a long time. I became more serious.

Like an itch one cannot scratch, I realised at some point that even with alllll my self-care practices, something was missing – Self-care, I’m talking daily walks in nature, yoga by myself, yoga online, Feldenkrais online, meditation in the morning with chanting, Epsom salt baths, reading awesome books, reading blogs, listening to inspiring podcasts, journaling, green juices, hot lemon drinks, seeing my massage therapist, seeing my reiki therapist, self-massage, gazing at the sky at sunset, self-hugs, self-reiki, creating art with drawing and collage, and the list goes on ….even with all this, there is still an important ingredient that needs to be included and to be set as an intention.

One afternoon it finally dawned on me the self-care was like placing small band-aids over a gaping wound, without this ingredient.

Suddenly I found myself searching for a book I had read years before. (By the way, I still haven’t found the book! I think it had been a library book.)

Then, in synchronicity,  an email dropped into my inbox from that very same author. Kristen Neff, author of “Self Compassion”. After following a link to her website and courses available, I remembered searching for a local ‘mindful self compassion’ course in Melbourne years ago – I think there was one teacher in Melbourne offering it and I couldn’t make it to the class times, so I put it on the backburner thinking it wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward to these special times where the zoom gods allowed courses to be happening from wherever in the world and right into your lounge room with the click of a mouse. A few of the courses I looked at, were scheduled for around 2am or 3am Melbourne time…..not do-able in my household, or with my level of exhaustion.

But a few more clicks on my laptop and I found a course at a time suitable for us Aussies! And with two teachers that are really inspiring, one zooming from Thailand and one from US. Their names are Siri and Jennifer.

So, I am right in the middle of this course in Mindful Self Compassion right now and loving it.
Plus I have to admit, that as a teacher, it’s always an extra pleasure to be a student in a class!
In the sessions we learn and practice different practices of mindful self-compassion in a group of likeminded souls, none of who I have met besides from on zoom, sharing our experiences, sharing our thoughts, our values, and learning how to really embody self – compassion in a meaningful way.

Everything is a work in progress. And I feel like in many ways I am circling or spiralling around in the ways that I learn about myself and my life. I bring the intention of self-compassion into my life now. I will see how thing go from there, and accept myself and forgive myself when I am not perfect. I am willing to embrace my imperfect self.

Here is something you can do right now and you only need a moment:

Place your hand on your heart, close your eyes, listen to your breath, feel the beat of your heart…you are here now…you can give yourself that gift of self-compassion. Be kind towards yourself. Be accepting. Be loving. Be forgiving. Give yourself that gift. You can choose that right now, this moment. Great compassion.

Wishing you peace, love and joy, and lots of self-compassion,