I wrote an article once called, “I Feel Like My Job Is Killing Me. What Can I Do?” In the article I described the simple tools I was taught by my teachers to mitigate the stress and drama of everyday life. Tools like stretching into the day with morning yoga, meditation to connect with ourselves and practice self-love, and drinking fresh green juice to nurture our bodies from the inside out.
The article received a very positive response, but I did get a few comments questioning if such simple tools could really make a difference. I hear those kinds of doubting comments often as I speak to people about my experiences. They can be summarized by the statement, “That may have worked for you, but I have real issues, I’m really stressed and I don’t think yoga, meditation, and green juice can fix my problems.”
I really believe in honoring everyone’s individual experience. I don’t believe that I, or anyone, have all the answers – and, often, giving advice simply isn’t helpful. What I have found helpful is the sharing of tools to assist in increasing joy in our lives. Sometimes those tools seem unreasonably simple, like looking at a house and imagining that it was built with the simple tools in a little red tool box – it seems too good to be true. To better understand the usefulness of tools it’s often beneficial to move the conversation from esoteric terms to real-life examples.
So imagine for a moment the other relationships in your life. What if you treated them the way you treat yourself?
What would happen if you pushed and pushed and pushed your children until they became so stressed and tired they couldn’t stand it any longer … or,
What if you stopped paying attention at work – you didn’t return emails from your clients, you ignored your coworkers, and you cancelled meetings with your boss … or,
What if you stopped holding your spouse — no more kisses or hugs or tender words — and when it came time for sex you rolled over and ignored your spouse’s need for intimate connection?
What would happen? In these real-life examples we know the answers, right? If we treated our spouses, careers, or children without care or concern, the relationships would start to deteriorate and, before long, the relationships would get stagnate, sick, and eventually die. The same is true with ourselves. When we treat ourselves as objects, fail to listen to our own needs, and ignore the warning signs that our bodies give us, the relationship with ourselves falls apart and we experience stress, unhappiness, and disease.
Now imagine for a moment that in the middle of all this you made a gesture of good faith to the other person. You attended marriage counseling, you sat down with your boss to apologize for your actions, or you went on a family vacation with your children. What would happen then? Your actions would invite a healing to take place, and as the people around you felt seen and heard they would respond with love and care, and what only days prior had appeared to be doomed would resurrect and show life again.
That’s what the tools of self-love are. Yoga, meditation, and green juice are a way of communicating to ourselves that we are loved and cared for. In that way they are like marriage counseling or a loving conversation with ourselves. We arrive at the yoga studio, meditation cushion, or juice bar after a lifetime of feeling unheard, under-appreciated, and pushed to the breaking point. We sit down in the company of our emotions and, for perhaps the first time ever, we pay attention to what our body is saying. We’re truly present to our needs, listening, caring, and loving ourselves. This is why the healing we experience from these simple acts can be so profound … just like the healing we get when we open up in life.
This week I invite you to check in with yourself. Close your eyes and experience the experience of being present to your own needs. In the beginning it may be difficult — in fact, seemingly impossible — to sit for too long. Do what you can. Just like a family meeting, the value is in just being there for yourself. And, like all good meetings, the healing comes from the action you take going forward. Stretch your body and allow it to breathe. Connect with your spirit and allow it to be heard. Nurture yourself from the inside out, and show your cells they are loved.
Be consistent in caring for yourself and watch the magic unfold in your life.
Big hugs of love,