It is my deep, hot, and holy conviction that the body of every woman is a living, breathing altar. – Mama Gena of Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts
Take time for you, or time will take you – unknown
Women must set the standard for ourselves, with everything in our lives, and that includes the standard for our own self-care. Have you ever noticed how when things get crazy, the quickest thing to let go of is our self-care? We make sure everyone else in our world is good, but there is no time for us. Yet how will we keep filling other’s cups when ours is not getting filled?
Intellectually, it’s a no-brainer. Of course, we must fill our cup! Of course, we must care for our health! Etcetera, etcetera. But, in the moment, do we follow through on it? Or do we decide that……….eh…..it’s not really that critical…..I’ll be fine without a hot, Epsom salt bath……or……15 minutes of stretching isn’t going to make that much of a difference. We discount ourselves. We deprive ourselves. We depress ourselves.
As we journey from being a teenager to being an adult, we develop our self-care habits based on the influences in our lives. As we become more involved with life, and we become committed in long-term relationships, possibly having our own family, moving forward in higher education or career goals, we often become more focused on being present for others and less concerned with ourselves. However, if we allow that to become unbalanced as many women do, we completely lose ourselves, along with our inclination to invest in our own nutrition, sleep, exercise, alone time, hobby time, creativity, and general happiness.
There is nothing wrong with being as intentional about our self-care as we are about our family dinner schedule or the kids’ sports, martial arts or dance classes. I think it really boils down to self-esteem. How much do we esteem ourselves? In a healthy way, not an obsessive one. Are we worth it (as the old L’Oreal commercial would remind us)?
Mama Gena teaches and lives out the experiment of connecting to her spirituality as a daily practice. She has found having certain daily practices really helps her, and I thought it would be interesting to share what the first hour of her day looks like:
- I take a bath, instead of shower, because it makes me feel more relaxed and beautiful. I use eucalyptus-scented epsom salts because they smell nicer than the plain ones. After the bath, I use coconut oil on my skin; it smells beautiful and nourishes the skin deeply.
- I dance naked in my living room, to whatever song suits my mood, or helps me move my waking emotions through my body. Moving my emotions through my body is a way of honoring them, and honoring my design.
- I do a small gratitude ritual at my altar. I have a series of stones and small objects I have collected over the years. I light a candle, and pick up each of the 30 stones, one at a time, and whisper a gratitude for different aspects of my life, as I replace each stone.
- I write down my desires on post-its and place them in front of the altar.
- I prepare my breakfast (kale and eggs) and sit down at my dining room table with real china and real silverware. I do my best to eat slowly and with gratitude. Taking food into our bodies and using it to nourish us is a sacred act. It takes enormous effort on my part to not rush – and not to distract myself with electronics – especially when I am dining alone, which happens a lot in my current lifestyle.
- My next move is walking the dog, and as I do, I call a friend and do Spring Cleaning. (I explain the practice of spring cleaning in my first book, if you’re not familiar).
So, in the first hour of my day, I have dumped my charge, moved my body, honored my emotions, nourished myself, connected with my gratitude, and expressed my most deeply held desires.
Gena says this daily practice helps her “stay centered, grateful, and filled up with love and attention, so I can open myself to whatever the day brings with the thick padding of self-love in place.” She admits she doesn’t do it perfectly every day. I have found that when we have a goal of doing something regularly, and we do it for the most part, missing a day or shortening it one day won’t have a huge effect. And – this is the big important take-away – we are more equipped to handle what comes our way. We think that we will “save time” by not taking time for ourselves in the morning, yet the investment pays us back with higher productivity and better quality thinking throughout the day.
One last point – Your version of nurturing your body, mind and spirit will be different than Mama Gena’s. It should be different. It’s YOUR ritual. I love how Gena puts it, “the object, here, is that you choose to create a wide landing strip for your connection to your own divinity to inhabit your day, your life, your body.” How can you create a wide landing strip? So that no matter what happens in your day, you are prepared to begin it and enjoy the practice of feeling beautiful and beautifully cared for. If you already have a daily self-care practice in place, would you share up to three practices that make the most difference for you so that our younger ladies can get some practical ideas? Share your comments on my Facebook page.
Source: Adapted from http://www.mamagenas.com