You are important.
You are needed in this world, woman.
No one else can fill your unique role… it’s up to you, and asked of you, to show up as your best self.
What is it that you love? What brings you joy, or a sense of easefulness? Do this daily. You don’t have to wait until the workweek is over, until the end of the month, or until your summer vacation.
It is vital first that we understand the necessity of taking care of our body, mind, and spirit in an integrative way and on a regular basis, or else we may not do it, for one excuse or another. If we don’t feed ourselves the fuel we need to burn bright, we are bound to burn out. And just like a fire, smoke and misery don’t stay in one place. They go outward… they spread. When we are miserable, we don’t just keep it to ourselves… it’s likely we share that misery with those around us. And what kind of contribution is that?
It’s time now that we take responsibility for our own peace and equanimity, for the sake of our own life, our body, and mind, and all the wonders that remain undiscovered.
So what does it take?
It takes effort, practice, and routine.
Here are a few recommendations for building ritual and routine into your life to support your potential to radiate potential for personal and planetary transformation.
Your practice starts in the dawn and echoes with you throughout the day. The morning hours are a wonderful time to prepare the bed of soil for the seeds you wish to plant… plant good seeds, reap delicious fruit. So, rise consciously.
Before getting out of bed, start the day with thoughts of gratitude. Simply think of a few things that you are grateful for, and allow those thoughts to warm your heart. There have been significant studies that such practices increase levels of happiness, and can actually lead to physiological changes of the brain. A practice like this will encourage you to naturally focus on what’s positive throughout the day, which then attracts more greatness. If you want to learn more about this practice, you may want to explore Metta Meditations, the meditations of loving-kindness.
Also before rising, you can pay attention to which nostril is more open, right or left, and step out of bed with that same foot. This mindful action connects you with breath, your biggest omnipresent ally, and connects breath with body.
Start in silence
Once you’re out of bed, make time to be quiet in the morning. If you pay attention to nature, you’ll notice that the quiet times are just before the break of dawn. Our inner nature is naturally more quiet in this time as well, and more capable of higher conscious perceptions and subtle experiences.
So, if you’re open to giving a fair trial to meditation, sit for a few minutes in the morning. Make yourself a space in your home that is your sit-spot and this spot, the more you sit, will be powered with the vibrations of love and compassion. It is where you can further practice Metta Meditation, or simply be aware of your breath.
Tips for Meditation: It is simple, really. Allow your body to sit upright, in a dignified fashion, like a queen on a thrown, and observe your breathing. Strong back; soft front. As thoughts come, simply say to yourself “thinking” and revert your attention back to your breathing. Do this as many times as you need to. Keep coming back to the sensation of your breath.
Do what you love
You like to dance? Move around in your space and boogie! Are you a writer? Write your morning poem. A lover of books? Read a favorite one. A musician? Pick up your instrument and play, even sing, too! A tree hugger? Well get outside and walk in the woods! Do whatever it is that feeds your unique spirit and know that by doing this, you’re feeding the spirit of the world.
Stay clean and fresh
It is old folklore in both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda that general upkeep and tidiness of the body fosters a sense of purity, and wellbeing. The body is your vehicle, and the clothes you put around it for protection express your level of self-respect and poise. It doesn’t mean you have to dress in a certain way, aligned with this fashion trend or that. No, wear what you like, but put it over a fresh body, ready for a new day.
If you do shower daily, keep it short and sweet. Use a loofa, if you’re into that type of thing, or even a brush rubbing from head to toe. This not only cleans the body but also activates the nerve endings under the skin. It wakes you up so you’re awake and ready for whatever may come your way!
Give yourself a full body massage
Another great way to love yourself up is to practice Abhyanga, an Ayurvedic massage, with an oil of your choice. I would suggest unrefined sesame oil. It penetrates deep into the skin and lubricates dryness. Start at the head and go to the feet, rubbing circularly around the joints of the knees, elbows, and shoulders, and up and down the muscles. Essential oils nice, too. Apply around the neck, on the inside of the elbows, and back of the knees, or just add to your massage oil. Lavender is the number one essential oil for anti-depression, and invigorates while relaxing, simultaneously.
Nourish your temple
Before the morning cup of coffee, if you enjoy that, drink water. Or, you can create a delicious and activating morning elixir by mixing into yours water, lemon or lime (the sour starts your bile production), chia seeds, and some ginger (a heating herb that has a net effect to relieve inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract), and maple syrup. Make this elixir the night before and let it sit by your bedside.
When you eat breakfast, do so consciously and seated. Take a few moments before you eat to pause, smell the food, and engage your senses. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system, rest and digest mode, and stimulates gastric juices necessary for proper digestion. And remember to chew, you’re stomach doesn’t have teeth!
And of course, eat what it is you enjoy and savor in the delight of the tastes and textures.
A few notes:
It is possible for these routines to become mechanical. Don’t allow this. Be present. If you find yourself getting mechanical, do something different… switch it up. You need to be there, fully present, to receive the gifts of your practice.
You might be saying to yourself that this all seems nice, but you’ve got responsibilities… no time for this kind of self-care. Yet it is not quantity of time that matters so much, it is quality. You’ll start to see some major shifts in your life if you spend just 10 minutes giving yourself one of the gifts above each day. You can always wake up just few minutes earlier if you need to. When you allot time for you, you may find you are more peaceful throughout the day, less tired, and better equipped to live up to your full potential.
Give it a fair trial, put your spin on it, and see what happens. For you, and for the world. Work it… you’re worth it!
By Julie MacAdam, creative artist, yoga teacher, body worker, and lover of the earth.