NOW. Who is the most important person? YOU. What is the most important thing to do? TAKE CARE. Practicing yoga means taking time get in touch with caring about ourselves—something that is essential to a productive, peaceful life. Developing an attitude of self-care means seeing yourself as the author and expert on your life story. Authoring one's own life assumes some measure of authority and requires appreciating yourself, which is something many of us don’t ever do. We don't think we are worth the time loving self-care requires. Being on the mat practicing breathing in our poses literally helps us learn about ourselves as we alchemize a cacophony of emotion, feeling and thought. We can accomplish incredible things like building our self esteem and letting go of grudges when we care about ourselves. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we practice self-caring by speaking directly to the feeling you are experiencing. Say directly to your sadness "I am taking care of you now." Acknowledge this feeling in you and as you breathe out, let it go. Then allow for the next moment to unfold and the next feeling. Breathe into that one. Sutra 1.33 translation by Nichala Joy Devi says:
"So often we only see our shortcomings and blow them out of proportion. At the same time we take all our good qualities for granted or fail to acknowledge them at all"
That's so not fair to ourselves. As adults, taking a time-out is an important part of practicing compassionate self-care. It is a chance to upgrade our relationship with ourselves. (And we should upgrade our personal relationship at least as often as we upgrade our operating system).
The first time I took a radical 30-day sabbatical, it changed my life. I spent time in quiet contemplation. I meditated in nature and consistently practiced taking care of me. I returned with a key insight: Making ourselves important and setting aside time to design our intentions is not easy—but it is vital. As Audre Lorde puts it, “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” Only a time-out can provide this stillness. It is what Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in her book Eat, Pray, Love: "You cannot see your reflection in running water, only still water." When you take time to be still, you can better see who you are and what you want. As a result, you ask yourself better questions.
Because you should want to keep evolving your happiness. Yoga teaches that if you aren’t happier today than you were a year ago, then you are stopping your personal evolution. We deserve to have the best day of our live today. And we can take this to a new level tomorrow. From taking a time-out for compassionate self-care, we realize that our happiness remains stunted if we keep repeating old patterns. This is where yoga holds our hands and encourages us to be happier than we ever thought we could be. By quieting our minds, we can see the old problems and move beyond them to our best lives ever. This investment in yourself also enables you to be better at showing compassion to others.
In my own deepening understanding of myself I find my capacity to serve others is deepened as well. The better I am at self-care the more genuinely nurturing of others I am able to be. - Mary Anne Radmacher
Take time to design a dedicated self-care program. Don’t wait to get started, do it for yourself.