Are you like me? Do you not take care of yourself sometimes because you are busy taking care of some many other people and things?
Yes, me. The yoga teacher who has spent countless hours studying anatomy and physiology. The person with a deep interest in movement and food and health. I hold in my brain a phenomenal amount of information about how our bodies function best; when they move the way they are meant to, when we feed them actual food, not things that come in boxes that are shelf stable for years, when we sleep enough. And yet…
It is so very easy to put my being at the bottom of the pile of things to take care of. The pile is large. It is daunting and it often leaves me feeling overwhelmed where I reach for food that is convenient and skip the practices that feed and balance my soul.
For me, it is far easier to care for others than it is to care for myself. I can take care of my children, my students, my house and even my dog more easily than I can take care of me. Yet, the truth is, when I don’t take care of me, I’m not able to care well for anyone else.
This hit home especially hard this month as I’ve watched my daughter go off to Kindergarten and my son to Preschool and I’m starting a new school year (my twelfth!) teaching at Harvard. We’re mid-way on a bathroom renovation, a new experience for me and I am wanting to say yes to every professional opportunity that comes my way. I spent time over the summer helping the children prepare to go to school, learning and managing the bathroom project and creating job opportunities, but I left myself out of the equation. I didn’t take time to prepare me for the changes that were ahead.
With the arrival of each change I have been caught emotionally off guard and those emotions showed up physically in pain in my back, in the handfuls of chocolate chips that I consumed (I’ve long ago learned that chocolate chip consumption is inversely related to my level of self care) and also in a sudden and never before experienced inability to sleep – like at all…I lie awake the whole night long.
In acknowledging this I’m working hard at simply observing and leaning in to what I’m feeling without trying to skip through it. There is deeper wisdom in us when we can really listen. This week I’ve acknowledged that I left myself out and I’ve taken steps to right the course, because, though the thermometer says it is 85 out, it is fall in my book and that means a new season. And a new season means a fresh start.
My fresh start involves doing 2 or 3 sun salutation sequences before letting the dog out of his crate in the morning to take him for a walk. It includes leaving my phone at home while I walk so I can be alone with my thoughts. It means exploring a new kind of meditation called tapping, that takes you into the powerful connection between emotions and pain as a way of rewiring the brain. It means putting my phone away when the children get home from school so I am present to them and their experiences. It means pausing before I get a snack to ask if I can make a better choice. It means letting go of the feeling that I need to be doing it all and doing it all right now. And, it acknowledges that I don’t have to do it all perfectly.
None of that is easy. But, if I stop and tune into my breath, just pausing to feel all the feelings, being in each moment as it comes, I can find balance. What I’m learning about balance though, is that it isn’t permanent, it isn’t a one time activity and then you go forward. Sometimes it is balance in one single minute and then that balance has to shift for the next minute. But, it is balance and those moments gradually expand to get longer and longer.
How are you finding balance this fall?