I often say to my clients and students: Take good loving care of yourself! One of my clients said recently:
“When you say to “take good loving care” of myself, I picture eating my vegetables or getting some exercise…maybe more hot baths.” What does it mean to take good loving care of yourself?
When you take good loving care of yourself, not only is it “good for you”, but there is joy in doing it. If eating your vegetables isn’t joyous and doesn’t taste good, but you feel you “should” eat them…that’s not very loving. If getting some exercise feels good, circulates your good feeling, then that’s loving! If you love hot baths, great. If you don’t, taking them is not going to feel good or circulate good feeling.
What takes good loving care of yourself can change over the years. In 63 years, I have never done weight lifting or barbell workouts. Niki Gerds just opened Ignite Barbell in Youngsville, and is to working out like my wonderful yoga teacher, Stephanie Barnhill is to yoga – and by the way, Stephanie will be teaching yoga at Ignite Barbell one Saturday a month, beginning July 14.
I started working out with Niki a couple of months ago….only because I was being prompted by my inner voice (to my surprise)….and I know it’s good for my body for bone strength. I thought, well, maybe this could be loving. What surprised me is how I feel about it. I used to say, I love walking and yoga and that’s it – and not walking in the heat. I can be limiting, restrictive, picky….one might even say (and some have) high maintenance.
What I discovered by being willing to try something new, is that I love finding I can do something I never thought I could do – or would want to do. The way Niki trains is already making a difference in my strength and my body. I feel more confident in my body and how it moves….and it has helped my yoga practice too.
I have a friend in his 70s who has been studying Spanish for a number of years. It is one of the most loving things he can do for himself. He is challenged, it’s sociable, and he has learned so much about people from other cultures. As he can speak to others, he gets to know them and their humanity. Very loving.
Sometimes it takes a while before we can hear the message about what is most loving for us. Or we judge the message we hear. Sometimes it’s lounging on the couch and watching TV. Sometimes it’s sleeping in. Sometimes it’s having a whole can of whipped cream. And sometimes it’s eating vegetables I love.
Sometimes it means going to the doctor, or taking medications, or having surgery or radiation. Sometimes it’s calling my sister when I am in the throes of despair. Sometimes it’s seeing my nephews or hanging out at home with my family and kitty. Sometimes it’s shopping therapy! Sometimes it’s holding classes, and sometimes it’s not holding a class. And sometimes it’s being quiet and alone.
It takes willingness to ask: what is the most loving thing I can do for myself today, or right now, in this moment. I ask all the time. I don’t always want to hear the answer. I don’t always want to do what is the most loving thing for me. My human side can be very resistant. I don’t want to cancel that appointment! I want to show up! I don’t want to go through that paperwork! I don’t want to do the bookkeeping or make that phone call. But if I continue to ignore what my loving Higher Self is telling me, or what the people who love me lovingly suggest, I suffer.
So with willingness and curiosity, we hear the answers more clearly. With practice, we learn to take better loving care of ourself. It’s baby steps. And it’s being the Love we truly are. And we have a whole lifetime to practice.