Care of Self
I had it all backwards. Self-care is the foundation upon which all else rests. I’m not just talking about eating right, getting enough sleep and exercising. I’m talking about spiritual Self-care. With a capital “S” for the larger self, the God self. As you have probably figured out if you’ve read any of my blog posts, the spiritual path is central to my life’s journey. How odd is it then that connecting on the inner has been so sporadic for me?
I think about God and Spirit a lot. I think about how the Universe works. I see Spirit moving in my life. I write about it all and feel that sense of connection through the writing process. But still, I know there is more. I yearn for it, and now that I’ve reevaluated my priorities, I’m willing, driven even, to take the time to pursue what that yearning is all about.
What is taking priority in my days now? Care of Self.
What does that look like? It begins first thing in the morning. Now, instead of getting immediately out of bed when I wake and stumbling into my usual morning routine, letting the dog out, feeding the dog, emptying the dishwasher… you get the idea, I stay in bed for an extra few minutes and listen to a guided meditation about visioning who I want to be (as in being rather than doing. Or, I’ll place my hands over my heart and mantra my way into heart/brain coherence. (See the blog post Got Heart.) Then, when I get up and move into the usual morning routine, it feels different, better, more graceful. During the day, at odd times, I refocus through gratitude, breath and prayer. In the evening I do another guided meditation. The result is that I’m sleeping better and feeling more aligned and balanced throughout the day.
It has become the basis of better days.
It is true that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Enter the guided meditations by Dr. Joe Dispenza. Dr. Joe as he is affectionately called, combines science and spirituality, teaching his students how to access and rewire their energy systems for healing and mystical experience. He has done extensive research into the effects of meditation, providing the explanations and proof for the Western mind, as well as the methods for how to achieve higher levels of consciousness.
His combination of rational scientific explanation and inspiring, exciting, guided meditations strikes the right balance for me. I am like a kid at a candy store, wanting to practice the many different guided meditations he offers on his website.
So, why is it that in the past I’ve given up on meditation? I’d stick with it for a little while and then I’d go back to focusing my attention and energy on the mundane aspects of daily life.
I believe there is a natural ebb and flow of energy between our small self and our large Self. Our small self, our ego, has a job to do. That job is about survival, which equates to managing the ins and outs of daily life. The ego will usurp all our attention if we let it. Focusing all of our time and energy into the 3D world of doing and having. That is until the large Self, our God Self, gently reminds us to refocus upon our being.
My God Self has reminded me not so gently during this year of 2020. The highs have been higher. The lows have been dark and deep. It has been challenging to find my balance, and even more challenging to maintain it. Fortunately, I’ve discovered an unexpected ally in my search for balance. Through the meditations I’ve had the unanticipated, loving experience of connection with my God Self and the inspiring experience of something very much greater. The natural effect of that is a desire to give back, to be of service.
This year of one calamity following another is a wake-up call. Now is the time to focus attention on what is most important. For me, that looks like putting the connection with my God Self, that is, Self-care, at the top of my list of priorities each day. From there, all else flows.
A Lesson in Patience
The TV blared sports casts just outside the door. Various magazines and newspapers were scattered haphazardly across the tables. The walls were covered with a matte light grey paint and fluorescent lighting glared down from white Styrofoam looking dropped ceiling tiles. The whole effect was one of cold austerity.
The room was warm and stuffy. Not a lot of air circulation going on. I had left my water bottle in the car which was now inaccessible, and my throat felt parched. The TV was droning on about acid reflux disease and I considered checking out the games on the computers around the corner.
An elderly gentleman entered the room with a middle-aged woman, wife or caretaker, maybe both, it was hard to tell. He sat in a chair in the well-lit area. She gently insisted that he get up again and move to the other side of the table out of the glare of the overhead light.
“You will be more comfortable,” she said.
“I can sleep anywhere,” he jibed, as he pulled himself to his feet. He moved over to the chair she pointed out, his socked and sandaled feet shuffling along the carpeted floor.
She sat down at the table in the seat he had just vacated and watched him settle in. She was unsmiling, her cheeks a ruddy pink, and brown hair curled over the collar of her jacket. Then she stood and walked over to the adjacent table picking up several magazines and a newspaper.
“They have Road and Track here. Or today’s paper, if you want them,” she said, holding out the selection.
“I’ll just sleep,” he answered, and pulled the rim of his green and tan baseball cap down over sparse, white eyebrows and pale, red-rimmed eyes. Large pink-edged ears and thin wisps of white hair stuck out from under the cap as his breathing slowed and deepened.
His care-taker wore a brilliantly striped sweater, jeans and black leather walking shoes. Her brown, pouchy leather bag sat on the table in front of her. She flipped absently through a women’s magazine reading with one hand folded under the side of her chin, jaw resting on her knuckles. Her wedding and engagement ring, obviously long-time residents, sat upon her finger, occasionally sparkling in the glare of the lights. She read quietly, patiently waiting, as we all waited. Some of us not so patiently despite the paragon of patience before me.
The elderly gentleman snored gently, proving that he could indeed, sleep anywhere.
Someone had changed the channel on the TV and a soap opera filled the room with erotomania and desperate conversations about kidnapped sisters. I found it hard not to get caught up in it. I peered around the doorway to see two other waitees in the next room. Settling back into my chair I could hear their occasional comments to each other about the unfolding soapy histrionics taking place in front of them.
I glanced about at the unchanging greyness of the room about me, filled with the panicked voices of the TV actors creating drama, heartache and murder for entertainment. Then the program went to commercial break and strains of “You Are My Sunshine,” replaced the script of desperation. The two watchers in the next room sat entranced, the old man slept, and the bright-sweatered caretaker read about skin cleansing and make-up tips.
I was surrounded by patience, but I didn't take the hint.
I sat for an hour and stewed. Surely they should be finishing up and coming to tell me my car was ready. I might never find out how the melodramatic kidnapping on the TV turned out, thank goodness.
Just then I remembered that when I’d checked in, I had neglected to mention the replacement hub cap I ordered by phone the previous month. I gathered my books, pad, jacket and purse and went in search of Bob, the service technician who checked me in an hour earlier.
I found him in a room with three other service techs, all working busily at desks spaced around the rectangular area. His desk was at the end of the room and feeling impatient I didn’t wait for him to look up from his work, but blurted out something about ordering a hub cap a month ago. Bob looked up at me briefly, blue eyes considering, then down again at the stack of papers he was going through.
“No problem,” he said in a cheerfully distracted way, still thumbing through the papers, “I can go down for it and pop it on for you.”
Looking about while he finished what he was doing, I saw my car pull up outside the window, and pointed it out to Bob. He got up and left the room. I waited, still standing in front of his desk, vastly relieved to be almost free.
After a few minutes, another service tech asked if I was being helped. I answered in the affirmative. Several more minutes and the tech at the desk next to Bob’s made a good natured comment about how the sun was going to peek out any minute now from behind the clouds, outside the large wall of windows. I was feeling better now that I was almost out of there and I responded in kind. We had a conversation about the beauty of the fall weather this year, the abundant rain of last summer and the good weather predicted for the upcoming week. Then we fell silent and I continued to wait, surrounded by a general atmosphere of conviviality. I stood and looked around as if interested in the sales displays posted around the room.
Bob returned, escorted me to the payment desk and left once again. I paid the bill, told the woman I would wait at my car for Bob and the hub cap. I was so ready to leave.
Out at the car, I threw my jacket, books, pad and purse on the passenger seat, heaved a relieved breath and got into the car to wait. Any minute now, I thought. I rolled my window down to let in the air and breathed deeply, feeling glad to be almost on my way, my mind already on all the many other things I wanted to get done that day.
Bob appeared shortly thereafter walking up to the open window.
“I’m sorry but they’ll have to put in another order for the hubcap. Some kind of mix-up,” he said.
Disappointed, I sighed, “Uh, OK. Will you do that?”
“They are on it.” He gave my car door a pat as if sending me on my way, then glanced over at my wind shield, “Say, did you know that you’re thirty days overdue for an inspection sticker? You can’t drive the car like that. We can take care of that now if you’d like.”
My head drooped till my forehead rested upon the edge of the steering wheel. I began to bang it slowly and methodically.
“Mam? Are you alright?”
Bang. “Just give me a moment Bob.” Bang. Sigh. I looked up at the young, concerned face peering in through the car window. “OK Bob,” Deep sigh. “I’ll wait.”
Photo by Maxime Agnelli on Unsplash
A Celebration of Fall
Our walk is a delightful morning ritual for the dogs and for myself. They get to catch up on all the nightly news by sniffing every leaf and blade of grass, and I get to listen to what Mother Nature has to day about the new day. This morning, she said, “You might want to get back inside where it’s warm. It’s cold and wet out here.”
Not that I mind cold and wet so much. It is par for the course in Kansas in the Fall, and it is Fall. Despite the fact that the solstice is still weeks away, the leaves are all green, and we’re due for summer-like temperatures later in the week. Today I snuggled into a long-sleeved sweater and layered on a quilted vest on top. That makes it officially Fall, at least in my heart.
You might have guessed that I love Fall. Fall is filled with pumpkins, cornstalks, and colorful mums. The trees get dressed up in reds, golds and russet orange. A freshening wind blows surrounds us in a blizzard of fluttering leaves. Cooling temperatures speak of picking apples and making warm, cinnamon-filled apple crisp, stirring up hearty chilis and soul-satisfying stews.
My birthday sneaks in there along about the start of October, shared by my son-in-law, with joint celebration. Then Halloween arrives after several months of anticipation during which our grandchildren vacillate back and forth between delightful possibilities.
“Mima,” says Eden, dark brown eyes framed with long, black eyelashes, serious in his cherubic face. “Should I be a dinosaur or a transformer?”
After deep consideration I say, ”I don’t know, which would you like to be?”
His face lights up in a grin. “How 'bout I be both?”
The big night arrives and the grandchildren are beside themselves with excitement about their costumes. Their imaginations are in overdrive as they get to be anyone they want for one special evening. Then the big event, trick-or-treating. Racing in an excited pack from house to house. They run to ring the doorbell, sing out a happy shout of, “Trick or treat!” and hold out their bags in expectation of candy. Smiling neighbors answer the summons and exclaim over the princesses, ghosties and dino-transformers at their door.
As if all that weren’t enough to make the Fall season glorious, Thanksgiving makes its abundant entrance. Family and friends gather to share the giving of thanks, loving companionship, humorous banter, games and way too much food. Roast turkey, sweet squash, buttery mashed potatoes holding a pool of gravy redolent with sage, crisp topped stuffing, ruby red cranberry sauce and the best for last, pie. Oh my! Pumpkin, chocolate cream, mince, lemon meringue, pecan chocolate chip, all topped with mountains of whipped cream.
OK, I might have gotten a little carried away with my culinary memories of Thanksgiving largesse. It’s all part of the mystique of Fall in my heart… and tastebuds. That’s OK, because this year, Fall of 2020, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to all that brings joy into our hearts, allowing ourselves to relax into the comforts of ritual and Fall celebration.
Photo by Alisa Anton on Unsplash
Feeling Stormy Inside?
I’m not complaining mind you, well, not much anyway. Just painting the picture, because I feel great…now. And I’m going to tell myself that as often as I need to throughout the day today, until I take my sleep deprived body to bed tonight.
I haven’t slept well the last couple of nights. Maybe it’s because there’s a lot of disturbing stuff going on the world. Maybe it’s because menopause plays havoc with the hormones. Whatever the reason, sleep deprivation usually sets me up for low energy, irritable days. At least until this morning, because this morning I remembered that I have a choice about how I want to feel.
We all have that choice.
It may come as no surprise to you when I say that how we feel physically and how we feel emotionally are not the same. The physical body and the energetic emotional body are two separate entities, parts of the whole. They do affect each other, oh, how they affect each other, for better or for worse. But we can choose to make it for the better.
When I was growing up my mother listened to a news broadcaster who ended each morning program saying, “Make it a good day.” Such good advice and I’m taking it to heart. As I sit here on my porch typing away, I choose to make today a good day.
I’m focusing on the blue sky behind the storm clouds. I’m letting go of trying to fix myself or anyone else for today. I’m surrendering my egoic desire to agonize over things and try to control it all. I’m surrendering it all to God and accepting peace.
This is how. First, I remembered I have a choice and I made the commitment to myself to feel great. Then I tapped it in using Faster EFT and the simple words, “I surrender it all to God and I feel great.” By the end of a few rounds of tapping I felt better.
Afterwards, I looked through the porch screens at the stormy sky outside, and saw the grey clouds now wispy at the edges with blue sky peeking through from behind, even as thunder still grumbled in the distance. It was a lovely metaphor for how I was feeling inside. I could feel light-filled blue sky appearing within, as the storm clouds of grumpiness parted and wisped away.
I sat and patted myself on the back as I enjoyed the bits of blue sky outside and the fact that I was feeling pretty good. As I continued to gaze at the sky, the wind picked up, darker clouds rolled in and it wasn’t long before the storm outside my porch came back with a vengeance, wind blasting, rain pelting, thunder roaring.
Huh, so much for my metaphor. Or, to carry the metaphor a little farther, perhaps my resolve to feel good would be challenged and I’d have to make the choice to surrender and feel great all over again. It does work that way. Often when we choose to make a change our resolve is tested. It is as if our soul self says, “Get through this and you’ll really know you’ve changed.” It’s all part of the growth process. Awareness, change, test, awareness, change, test and so on.
This morning’s stormy weather taught me that we can choose to feel good, even great, despite what our habitual responses have been in the past. We can choose to change. Why not give it a try the next time storm clouds threaten your emotional horizon? And if the storm clouds come back again? Repeat your resolve and make a choice for the better, as often as you need to.
Photo by Tim Rüßmann on Unsplash
Life is full of spiritual lessons. Some feel good, some not so good. All support us to grow. This blog is about my life lessons. Perhaps you'll find yourself within these stories.