Life is full of waves and patterns…they ebb and flow and change and firm up and melt again. Over and over and over…the longer I live, and live somewhat mindfully, the more I am astonished at this simple truth.
In my life, patterns look like bouts of creativity followed by not-a-single-new-idea, wanting to MAKEALLTHETHINGS and then not-wanting-to-touch-my-tools, preparing delicious and nutrient-dense food followed by eat-all-the-doughnuts, and meditation and asana daily followed by ugh-that-sheepskin’s-best-purpose-is-for-napping.
And those are just the ones I’m aware of these days. Every action and behavior that we experience is a result of the Sanskrit term Samskara. Samskaras are the patterns that make up our personalities, thought-patterns, and reactions (our interior landscape, if you will) and then stream outwards into the tissues of our bodies, our environment, and our lives (the exterior landscape). Samsakras are what make us, us. And they aren’t bad. They are simply something to be aware of. They are structures, and structures both help us survive and define ourSelves, while simultaneously holding us in one space (rather than allowing evolution and growth).
So how do we get around these structures, and grow into versions of ourselves that we are proud of? I am not talking about the patterns that serve us…this is a question of changing patterns that are not getting us anywhere we want to be.
We commit to taking Care of ourSelves.
We make small changes daily.
We remind ourSelves of what is important.
But then, of course, sometimes we forget. Or we go on vacation. Or a holiday happens. And all that intention we set and all those good practices, get changed and (maybe) thrown out of the daily routine. Ugh. That’s a pattern, too…and it’s one that’s not so hard to get out of!
So here are some ways to help all of us re-commit to the things we do to take care of ourselves…this is a list I go back to over and over again, and it continues to grow as I evolve in my own practices.
- Notice that you fell off the horse: This seems silly, but unless you notice that you STOPPED doing something, you can’t START it back up! So give yourself a bonus point if you already know where you want to “re-horse”.
- Give yourself another day to prepare: This time between noticing and taking action gives us a moment to pause and reflect. Why did you stop? What are you feeling because you stopped? Are you judging yourself? Are you placing blame on another pattern, person, holiday, or structure? Are you simply avoiding taking healthy action because you don’t want to? Journal a little bit on this day, and make sure you journal about what you want to re-commit to, and why.
We need to know WHY we are doing something, very clearly, if we are to keep it in our lives. So “I want to start daily meditation again because it makes me feel good” is actually not specific enough. I need more reasons (because hey, feeling good also comes after a glass of wine, eating pie, and binge-watching Big Bang Theory). What does meditation give me, that NOTHING else does?
“I want to have a daily meditation practice because it nourishes my soul, gives me time to process energy and awareness, and offers me a sacred ritual to connect to my highest Self. I deserve and am worthy of these things on a daily basis. My life flows better, I am a better manifestrix, and I am kinder to mySelf and others, when I meditate daily.”
Now THAT’s a reason!
3. Put it in writing. So this is the next day. Grab a candle, incense, or just put on some lovely music…setting the mood as you commit to yourSelf helps bring your awareness IN, and helps you to feel like this is a special moment. Because it is. Commitment ceremonies are special. Breathe deeply for a few minutes before you even start. Take a moment to write the positive aspects of what your self-care gives you. Write down in a simple phrase what you are committing to.
4. Just choose one thing at a time. Don’t change your diet, meditation, exercise, sleeping habits, and communication goals all at once. It doesn’t serve you to be overwhelmed. This is a gentle process, so treat yourSelf with care and tenderness. This is a quiet molding, not a forceful push, into another aspect of your life. Enjoy it. Savor it.
5. Offer this commitment to your Highest Self. Some of us use the word God, or Goddess. Some use Energy, or Consciousness, or That. Whatever you consider your highest, creative Source…offer this commitment to That, with reverence. This Highest Self is not judging us for messing up, but it is noticing how much attention, energy, and gravity we are giving to our patterns and commitments. Use this knowledge FOR yourSelf, and let it support you!
6. After you close your ceremony with gratitude (I recommend offering thanks to the Highest Self, followed by offering blessings to the world around you, but that’s just one way), start practicing immediately. Did you commit to meditation, yoga, or exercise? Go do those things, right now. Nourishing yourself with healthier foods? Get in the kitchen! Communicating with ease and grace? Go write an email, return a phone call, or strike up a conversation with someone dear to you. Hold that commitment sacred, and act on it. You made a vow to YOU, and you are worth upholding it.
7. Set an alarm or timer, daily, for taking the actions you committed to. It becomes easy when it’s just part of the structure of your day. For me, mornings have time, so that’s when I practice. Do you get home and have energy in the evenings? Long lunch breaks? Half days? Can you possibly wake up an hour or thirty minutes earlier, to have enough time to get all of your self-care things done? Look at your schedule and find the time. Make the time. Again, this is about you being worth it.
8. Don’t set goals you can’t achieve. It only sets you up for failure and judgement and self-loathing. Blech.
9. Weekly, re-commit! On a weekend, or day off, take a moment and journal about the results you got, and what you achieved in the past week. Congratulate yourself, and re-commit to your healthy new pattern. If you want to indulge in a “treat”, make it one that supports your goals…so rather than going out of ice cream if you have committed to not eating sugar, get a pedicure, take a luxurious bath, watch a sunrise somewhere beautiful, or make a purchase you havve been denying yourself. Just be honest with yourself about affordability, and what supports you.
and finally, and perhaps most importantly:
10. When you mess up and forget, or skip a day, DON’T judge yourself harshly. Remember the part about tenderness? You gotta be kind to yourSelf! So if you mess up, get out your journal and write the mess-up. Write why. Write all about it, if you like.
THEN write a letter of forgiveness to yourself. Write a letter about why it’s OK to mess up, and make mistakes, and fall off the wagon. Then take a big deep breath, and re-commit. ❤
(ps…anything to add? I’d love to hear what you do to take care of your precious Self!)