Do you ever find your self wondering exactly what does ‘self care’ mean? In my life coaching practice, when discussing self care, I have many women ask me, “but isn’t it selfish to put myself first”? I like to ‘unpack’ and ‘repack’ the meaning of ‘self care’ together with my clients. My thinking about self care has been informed by the writing of Pema Chodron, Buddhist Nun and teacher.
In previous posts, I have included the phrases ‘motherly love’ and ‘compassion towards yourself’ as capturing the essence of self-care! Another word that fits into this discussion is “maitri”. Maitri is a Sanskrit word often translated as unconditional friendship with oneself. As mentioned, I first heard the word ‘maitri’ in the writings of Pema Chodron.
What strikes me is that as we can develop ‘unconditional friendship’ with ourselves, we bring compassion and a gentleness into our ‘self-care’ practice. Starting from gentleness and respect allows life to flow forth in quite a different way than striving towards the completion of projects. This is the practice of self compassion and anchors our lives in quite a different way. You can learn more about self compassion through the Center for Compassion Inspired Health.
So, explore the practice of unconditional friendship and self compassion with yourself and from a soft and gentle place, experiment with the following :
Self Care Tips:
1. Explore the concept of friendship, and consider if you hold yourself to a higher and different standard than you hold your friends ie are you more critical of yourself than you are of your friends?
2. Be extra gentle with yourself and notice when this is easy or difficult.
3. Mark the changing of the seasons in some way. You may wish to buy a new journal or prepare your garden or design another ritual that helps you say good bye to the season ending and ‘hello’ to the season on it’s way in or, if you are in an equinox, notice the uniqueness of the season.
“May your life be like a wildflower, growing freely in beauty and joy each day.”
– Native American Proverb