(Originally Published in Abundance Magazine. December 2003)
Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to stop what were doing and make time to take care of ourself. Often we put ourself last on the list of priorities. We make ourselves less important than buying groceries, getting an oil change or feeding the dog. It an interesting phenomenon, one that is common practice for many people and has different roots or beginnings. Sometimes poor self-care stems from a lack of self-worth. Often it is pressures from our job, school, family, or friends that keep us distracted and preoccupied.
When we were growing up, we were often told, Use your Head. This leads to an absentmindedness about what our body needs. It also enables us to say completely distracted in the man-made world of words, thought and illusion. I am going to offer you an alternative saying: Use you body wisdom. It may not sound as simple or as catchy as the former phrase, but Use your body wisdom will have a huge impact on the way you love yourself. Your body holds just as much if not more intelligence than your mind. Each cell of your being has a memory and intelligence about who you are and what you need. It is not a mental intelligence. It is body intelligence. It requires that you learn the language of the body, which often comes through as intuition or common sense. It requires that you give the body some affirmative action in your life and allow it to rise from its oppressed state. It may also require that you do things differently than your peers or resist pressures to stay plugged in to the world of the mind all of the time.
In ancient times, people had a very intimate relationship with their bodies and the Earth. They celebrated the changes of the body with rituals and ceremonies. They used drumming and dancing, both very physical activities, to stay connected to the pulse of life. In the absence of machines, the body was also the primary tool of building, growing or creating whatever was needed to survive. A healthy body meant a healthy community and healthy way of lifethis is as true today as it was thousands of years ago. Often when we retreat from our man-made world, we find ourselves going back to these old ways of being. We are drawn to nature and the outdoors. We may go out and tend to the garden or create some artwork with our hands. All of these activities are very healing for our body, mind and spirit.
The art of self-care means making time for these healing activities as well as modifying our day-to-day habits to nourish and nurture the body. You can begin by doing an inventory of all aspects of your life relationships, living situation, personal habits, financial situation and more. Look at how you are fueling your life. In other words, where are you getting the energy to do everything you do? Are you using less than desirable means of fuel, namely adrenaline, sugar and caffeine, to accomplish your goals? Do you need to re-prioritize and find better ways of creating and sustaining energy in your life? Once we learn to listen and respect our body wisdom, we will find that all other aspects of our being will benefit as well.