You can never love another person unless you are equally involved in the beautiful but difficult spiritual work of learning to love yourself. John O’Donohue: Anam Cara
Santa Fe, New Mexico is my home town. When I first moved here in the 1960s, the “City Different” was full of healers. We had primal scream therapy, past life regression, aura balancing, astrologers. Now, years later, the options have expanded. We have health practitioners of all kinds: specialists in acupuncture, reiki, western medicine, oriental medicine, Alexander Technique, yoga of every imaginable variety, therapy dogs, healing through horses. You name it, we’ve got it!
It was refreshing, therefore to attend a recent lecture by mental health counselor who presented easy, basic ways to “stay in tune.” Santa Fean Ishwari Sollohub (www.ishwari.org) suggested the following simple but powerful steps:
- Morning Stretch/Hug: Before getting out of bed in the morning, take a moment to
just be with yourself. Stretch your arms and legs, reaching as far as is comfortable. Feel the vertebrae in your back lining up for the day. Then sit up, hold a pillow to your chest, close your eyes and notice that you are breathing. Now, give yourself a hug, saying “Good morning (your name), thanks for taking a minute to just be. Let today be about learning to love – myself and others.
2. Notes to Self: Keep a small notepad with you during the day. Whenever you have an insight or question, jot it down. Journal or write about your insights; research your questions on the Internet, in books, or by talking with a trusted friend.
3. Water Ritual: Once a day, make a ritual of drinking an extra glass of water. As you swallow, take a moment to acknowledge this small act of self care. It may be helpful to do this just before or after a habit you already have (feeding the dog/cat etc.). You can post a note somewhere as a reminder. If you like, use a special beautiful glass for this ritual.
4. Breathe and Move: Get outdoors and breathe. Be mindful of breathing in and out as you walk to the door. Let the air cleanse and refresh you, resetting your mood if needed.
5. Brain Gym: While standing or sitting, reach your right hand (or elbow) across your body and touch your left knee as you raise the knee; do the same with the left hand (or elbow) on the right knee, as if you are marching. Repeat for about two minutes. While you are doing this remind yourself of all the things you are doing to improve your well being.
6. Notice the choices you make throughout the day. Whether you choose the “good” thing or the “bad” thing is less important than actually noticing that you have a choice. Try intentionally saying “yes” to something healthy and “no” to something unhealthy. Pat yourself on the back for paying attention to your choices.
7. Food and Sleep: Be aware of your eating and sleeping patterns. These basic functions are a big part of your well being. If either is troublesome, it may be time to make some changes. If you now what you need to do, start it. If you need help, reach out to get it.
Counselor Ishwari concludes her recommendations, “There you have it: a few simple things to try. By engaging in these small acts of self-care, you are taking responsibility for your own well being; you are learning to actively love yourself. The more often you repeat these gestures, the more you will get from the effort.”
It doesn’t need to be complicated, elaborate or expensive to bring about a difference in your life! Commit to do at least three of the above practices for at least two weeks. More if possible, but at least three. Following Ishwar’s recommendation, put reminders on your calendar. I’ve committed to this practice. I invite you, dear Readers, to do likewise. We are worth it.
Note from Elaine: I have two new books, one is a re-issue (From Calcutta with Love-The WWII Letters of Richard and Reva Beard), the other a novel (Hand of Ganesh). Publication dates to be announced. Stay tuned! In the meantime, please let me know if you try adopting the Seven Simple Ways. I’d love to hear from you!