It seems like it takes a lot of effort to take care of myself these days. When I was younger I never gave looking after myself much thought. I functioned on very little sleep, made horrible choices on food and basically fuelled my body with caffeine, nicotine and processed foods. Fact is, my 30 year-old self didn’t do a very good job of things. Now it seems, with each passing year, I need to expend more and more effort just to keep my body functioning and fending off illness and injury. My dental hygiene regimen alone adds about 45 minutes to my day - and don’t even get me started on the time and preparation to eat well! I don’t always go at these self-care tasks happily. Now as winter begins in earnest, social engagements ramp up and the encouragement to over-indulge surrounds me – it seems like all I want to do is retreat to the couch, eat chocolate and drink wine! Wake me up in next spring! But this year, I want to avoid the cycle of indulgence and self-recrimination that this season often means for me. I want to approach this season with self-compassion! So today when I began my morning meditation I repeated some loving kindness phrases that were taught to me years ago by my meditation teacher.
May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I look after myself with joy.
That last line made me pause. I have been begrudging the time and effort self-care takes; actually even resenting it. If I honestly compare the after effects of how I feel when I’ve been inactive and engage in short-term pleasure like over-eating, versus how I feel after self-care activities - there is little doubt which path is kinder to myself. Self-care activities often make me feel more buoyant, lighter and energized. So I asked myself – am I worthy of these caring efforts? Do I love myself enough to “look after myself with joy”?
So today I’m setting the intention to look after myself with joy. I doubt that I will be successful at this all the time; I am a fallible human being after all. I do believe however, that just like every other living being, I deserve to be lovingly cared for. It is gift that I would like to give myself this year. What about you, dear reader? What intention could you set to be kinder to yourself? I’d love to hear about it if you care to share.
I wish you many moments of self-compassion this season and always.
With Kindness, Patricia