Friday, June 28, 2013

tranquilosophy: self-care

Bonjour mes amis.  

The Declaration of You releases this summer and encourages readers to step passionately into their lives, discover how they and their gifts are unique and uncover what they are meant to do. This post is part of The Declaration of You’s Blog Lovin’ Tour and I’m thrilled to participate alongside over 100 other creative bloggers. Learn more by clicking here.

indulging in a dose of tea-inspired self-care in paris last week

In dealing with those who are undergoing great suffering, if you feel “burnout” setting in, if you feel demoralized and exhausted, it is best, for the sake of everyone, to withdraw and restore yourself. The point is to have a long-term perspective.—Dalai Lama

When I was asked to pen a piece on self-care for the Declaration of You Blog Tour, I responded with a squeal of "yes!" This is a favorite topic of mine. I find self-care to be most challenging and incredibly rewarding, often at the same time. 

As a writer who muses on tranquility commingled with living a full, meaningful life in the same sentence, I am constantly on a quest for balance. A way to ground among the to-dos. A chance to breathe amidst the deadlines. And a moment of respite among the stimulating experiences. As the above Dalai Lama quote reminds us, we must refill the well. Withdraw and restore yourself, he encourages. I wholeheartedly agree and below are seven fave ways to practice restorative self-care in an instant.

1. Body scan. Take a moment to check in with your body. Notice areas of tension or tightness. Observe heat or coolness. Relax your muscles. Notice your heartbeat. Unclench your teeth and relax your tongue to the bottom of your mouth. Soften your jaw and the space between your eyebrows. Check in regularly with your body and scan from the top of your head to the tips of your toes to help ground yourself. Your body does much more than exist to tote your head around. Tune in.

2. Breathe. Close your eyes and feel your breath. Notice your inhale and your exhale. Feel the breath more in and out of your nostrils. Observe your belly expanding and contracting. Stay here five to 50 minutes.

3. Touch. Feel your clothes against your skin. Hug someone or put your hand onto their arm when talking to them. Watch how this lowers your heart rate and helps bring you both into the present moment.

4. Yoga. Move your body with your breath. Try the sun salutations from January or some of the on-the-go yoga poses from September. Get in touch with your body and move it through poses while focusing on your breath. Your mind will calm and better equipped to quiet through this connection to body and breath.

5. Observe. Notice sensations in your body. Move your body. Connect to the breath. Avoid judging what you notice. Sure, you may feel snug hamstrings or tightness in your chest. That’s okay. Simply observe without labeling it as good or bad. Same with your emotions. Notice anger arising or sadness coming on. There is no right or wrong; just notice what comes up. Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh writes in Peace is Every Step, “We must be aware of which programs do harm to our nervous systems, minds, and hearts, and which programs benefit us.” Observe how you feel after watching, reading, or eating certain things—our bodies have lots to tell us.

6. Be in the moment. Notice how the mind moves from future worries to past events and back again. Try to bring the mind back to the present moment. So much of life is lost by not being with the here and now. 

7. Journal. Pull out your pen and paper to tap into what is on your mind. Note what's going on internally. Tune into what you're feeling. Write out what you notice to help you move through a challenge and, ultimately, beyond it. 

Wishing you heaps of sacred self-care on this journey of life. Tonight, I'll be practicing my own dose by practicing yoga, sipping tea, soaking in the tub, and going to bed early. Bisous.

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