Have you ever been pondering on the quality of your life, and if you have, have you come to the understanding that you do have a say by applying self care, or the other way around, that life lives you and is determining the quality of living we are here talking about?
How and what do we actually understand our quality of life to be. One could say, that when you do not complain about life because being without illness or disease, that their life is okay, or that, when you are successful in life, e.g. being married, having a family, a nice car, yearly holydays, a house and a proper job in which you earn enough to pay for all that you need, their life is okay.
While both these aspects of life are important and a good thing to have, does it actually say anything about your real quality of life, that you live a life in which you can personally flourish and develop? How are your relationships with your partner, your children, your colleagues and not to forget, how is your relationship with life? Do you consider life to be a treasure to you or do you see it more as an everyday challenge you have to take because you live it?
For me, what is missing in the above equations is a quality of stillness within, how we are able to be with ourselves and can feel the tenderness and warmth of our body and use that as a basis for anything else that we do in life. That wherever we are we are able to be with ourselves and not get distracted in the busyness of what is happening around us.
We have to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that we all have a sense of this quality. You know when we say ‘my life is okay’ but most of us do say with that too that they are actually not fully content with it, that there is ‘more’ to life then living without disease or being successful. We all do have that inner sense but we are missing the living connection with it as we are never being taught, told or being inspired by someone living it and that it is natural to live that inner felt quality. We have given precedence to the outer quality over the inner quality just because we got recognized for it instead of for the loveliness that this inner quality brings into our lives. By this choice we have in fact dismissed a great part of our being, that part. That to me, gives me the real quality in life, that inner stillness which is at the basis of all that I am and do.
But how to go from here, is a legitimate question if you ask me, as in a way we have to rediscover and build the connection from within, but how do we do that?
A first step could be to become aware of the fact how we can look differently to the quality of our lives and from there make a choice, the choice to develop this stillness within by taking care for ourselves, the same care we tend to give to our family and friends but now for ourselves as we are the only ones who can do that.
There are many aspects in life in which self care can be explored, through food, physical exercise, the way we interact with other people, how we are with our thoughts, how we dress for example. Below I give you my experience with self care which I have found to be beneficial to me. I have started on some of the aspects and the fun in this taking care for myself has been that it develops an awareness that is continuously deepening. So, I started with looking at some of my food intakes and slowly from that came more, just by me allowing to be aware and to experiment with it. I could let go of wanting to have it all right from the start and instead allowed myself to develop a deeper relationship with self care and give myself permission to experiment with it.
As food is important in maintaining a vital and healthy body I started to take more care for the way I eat, what I eat, the way I prepared my food as this all contributes to the way you are able to feel your body. For instance, when you overeat or consume foods that you actually do not like but have learned to consume, like coffee, alcohol and such, you can feel bloated, heavy and having a racy or foggy mind which can make it hard to actually even do your work properly and even more important to feel how your body is.
As well I have found to learn to listen to my body’s needs, as going to the toilet in time, having regular hydration, going for a stretch and walk whenever I felt to. Part of this caring is also to dress my self not only to protect me form cold or heat but also to express how I feel by choosing the type of clothes and colors that fit me for that day. I do know so well that if I do not pay enough attention to what I want to wear, that the whole day I will be confronted with this lack of care for myself which actually, when I am honest, gives me thoughts of me feeling less than others and an uncomfortable feeling in my body.
Another self care strategy for me is to watch my thoughts and emotions, as these can also be very destructive. Like in the above example with the clothes I can have thoughts that actually are not supportive to me, thoughts like ‘I am not good enough’ or the opposite ‘I am more/better than the other’. Also in getting emotional about what is happening around me or with myself in becoming angry or sad because of how some of my colleagues may treating others or me instead of staying with myself, being able to give an adequate reply to that behavior. Both the self-abusive thoughts and the emotions do take me away from myself and then make not so loving choices for instance I choose eating something to numb my body from feeling while completely ignoring the fact that my body has to digest all of this and has to carry the burden of it, by bloating, constipation, a feeling of heaviness, lethargy etc.
All above examples of self care I have developed for myself are very dear to me as the reconnection with my body that came in return is invaluable to me and I never ever will go back to the way of living I lived several years ago, before I started this self-loving way of life. A life in which I now do have an amazing connection with the warmth, tenderness and stillness of my body and the intimacy I do not only have with myself but with the many people I meet on a daily basis. I can say that self care to me is now a quality in life that I have imbued in my every day’s way of living and that really serves me well.