Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Vital Self Care

 "We are matter, kindred with ocean and tree and sky. We are flesh and blood and bone. To sink into that is a relief, a homecoming." (Krista Tippett, Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living)

There is a common blessing offered at the end of a yoga practice: with hands together at the level of the heart, drop the chin to the chest, and bow in remembrance that the greatest teacher of them all, is the teacher within.  This gesture is a reminder that the wisdom gained through our hearts -through the challenges of living and loving - offer the deepest lessons and opportunities for self growth. 

Often the more subtle messages from the heart are translated through the body. We are familiar with the ways stress is transferred to tight neck or shoulders, or how anxiety often manifests in stomach distress or a sense of constricted breathing.  Through yoga practice - specifically the practice of postures or asanas - I have felt the sudden and intense release of physical/emotional traumas stored for years in my body.  Once, while dropping my head back into a back bending posture, I was suddenly gripped by a crying spasm shocking both myself and classmates stretched out upon their sticky mats.  My body was releasing a charge of intense fear, anger and loss lodged in the muscles and tissues of the upper spine as a result of a broken neck I sustained 8 years prior to that moment. I wasn't aware I had been holding on to all those repressed emotions until that moment of release.  But afterwards I felt my being shift into a new spaciousness and ease. 

More recently an illness brought about sensations of immense discomfort to my right lower back and hip. Gentle yoga postures brought about the only relief.  Returning to my asana practice after a long lapse, I could feel the neglect of my body through crazy tight muscles and restricted movement.  The simplest of poses elicited moans and groans of pleasure finding its way through stagnation and pain. My body quickly showed me the results of my neglect, but that was not the full story.  For a good month or so I would lie down on my mat to practice, shifting into a seemingly gentle posture, and then a tsunami of tears would rush through me.   Day after day this happened.  A part of me would be off to the side, witnessing this curious event.  This again? More tears?  

Baffled, I nonetheless continued with my practice.  Obviously something was ready and needing to be released.  What I gradually understood was that grief - gathered over the years, starting 10 years ago with the passing of my father -  had been steadily stored away in my body. And what's more, the unexpressed or acknowledged emotions were most likely the source of my body opening to an illness that would provoke me into facing these energies of loss, sadness, fear and regret.  

We can see the body as a burden (a perspective deeply entrenched in certain spiritual traditions) or we can forge a relationship with it rooted in the belief that we are, as Martha Beck has shared,  "Spirit awake to itself in Matter." The body as teacher, guide, best friend supporting a full and engaged  - an embodied - relationship to life and living.

"... the real practice is living your life as if it really mattered from moment to moment. The real practice is life itself." (Jon Kabat-Zinn in Becoming Wise)

This is the work I am immersed in; this is the work I love to share.  As part of my healing and embodied living - my daily prayer in heart, bones and soul - I work with yoga practices and teachings and yoga therapy which is rooted in the belief that we are already whole and our body is always moving towards healing and a re-membered wholeness. Or as Matthew Sanford shares " Your body, for as long as it possibly can, will be faithful to living. That's what it does." (Matthew Sanford in  Becoming Wise

There are so many simple practices and tools to support a nurturing relationship with one's body and in turn, an empowered sense of health and wellness.  Yoga, meditation, breathing practices are where I began but I have also found being in nature and creativity are core elements of my self care practice. More recently, I have found working with certified pure, therapeutic grade essential oils have augmented and bolstered all these practices. The oils have supported physical and emotional wellness in ways I am still surprised and delighted to uncover.  The greatest gift is how they fortify a sensitivity to intuition, allowing me to receive the guidance from my inner teacher who knows me to be already whole.  

The oils - gifts from the Nature  - magnify and quickly reconnect me to a wealth of inner resources. While the oils work on a physical level, I interested in how their aromatic qualities impact us emotionally through a direct connection to the limbic region of the brain. This means I can use the aromatic properties essential oils to impact and manage mood and motivation. Total wellness for me encompasses both physical and emotional health and in fact, the two are linked. When mood, stress, and emotions are acknowledged and addressed, the overall impact is vitality, resilience and an ability to manage the difficulties life presents whether it be physical, emotional or energetic. 

Right now many of us are suffering from dis-ease: the dis-ease of overwhelm, over-stimulation, over-scheduling and over-exposure to name a few. Conversely, there is dis-connection: with the natural world, community and our own selves. It can seem daunting to even begin to unravel all the confusion and dis-comforts and dis-ease. But I can tell you it is vital not only for one's well-being, but for the well-being of our world. Self care is is a revolutionary act in the sense that knowing we must tend to our total wellness, we are inspired to extend that care out into all of our relationships which includes how we interact with this planet, our home and source for life and health.

If what I shared rings true for you, I would love to connect. I will be offering limited spots for working with me to develop a self care practice that draws upon all these elements: yoga,mindfulness, creativity, self reflection, emotional wellness, and essential oils. Leave me a message with a way to contact you and we can schedule a free 45 minute consultation (via Skype or phone) to explore the possibilities of working together (discounted pricing as I beta test my ideas) and in that session receive some ideas on how you might begin a potent and personalize self care routine.

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