There were many years I was a practicing bodyworker who did not make my own self care and bodywork a priority. Taking care of ourselves (all of us!) is a big job and I really struggled to find the resources–time, money, inner compass, etc. to make a regular habit of it. This showed up in my personal and professional life, as I was out of alignment with the values I was hoping to illuminate for others and I was in pain from chronic tension in my body. The busier I got in with parenting, my practice, my life, the more I put self care on the back burner–the further I strayed from that center of self, that alignment that comes from practicing what you preach,
You see I truly believe that massage allows for the all too important & often overlooked somatic dialogue, that is, the body’s chance to be heard. During a massage, the body will tell you, if you listen, all of the places that you’ve over used, overwhelmed, neglected, ignored, disconnected from, and sometimes even where you have disembodied. Modern life has made it pretty effortless to live “in our heads” and ignore the signals the body sends; tired, dehydrated, inflamed, stressed, etc. The consequences of which lead to an array of lifestyle diseases, conditions, disorders, and just plain ol discomforts that are rapidly on the rise.
I have found myself, even with all I know from years and years of studying OTHER PEOPLES WELLNESS, in an endless & repetitive cycle of unease, within my body, arising primarily from a lack of devotion to self care. I talk more frequently with women about this, but I think it is fair to say that most people can relate. Raise your hand if you’re in a relay with every version of yourself; healthy you, sloth-like you, and everyone in between!?!?
After the death of my beautiful boy, I was blessed with the gift of bodywork from nearly every massage therapist I’ve met over the last 15 years in this profession. More massages than i can count, gifted to me in a time of total disembodiment. I humbly learned how to receive, a quality I had no idea was so underdeveloped in me! The ways in which this craft, the craft I myself had spent my adult life honing, helped me, is an unbelievably beautiful testament to the potency of this work. I now receive massage ATLEAST twice a month and more if I can. And I came back to doing this work again after 1.5 yrs off for my soul to try to rewire itself to an impossible truth, more convicted and more humbled to share the gospel of self care to everyone that would listen!
But I wasn’t done learning the role & impact of self care or it’s absence. While I will spare you the details of the long winding two track filled with potholes I’ve been on for 2 years and 4 months, what I see so clearly now is really very simple instructions/guidelines, that I think are good for all of us, not just for those of us in crisis. If you want to develop a relationship with yourself that is fun, friendly, loving, playful, open and non shaming/demanding/disembodied, consider your own inner resources; interests, time constraints, budgets, etc. .
For me, regular massage is non negotiable. While this is seriously not a shameless plug, I will say, the number one reason I started the Massage-A-Month Club was because I was inspired by my own monthly (then) massages, and wanted others to know what that kind of self care could feel like. Six months have passed since that began and it continues to grow primarily through word of mouth from happier & healthier Self Care Aficionados! But I think it also grows due to the fact that I am walking the talk– practicing what I preach. I am vulnerable about my path– physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I do not have all the answers but I “live the questions”, as Rilke suggests in ‘Letters to a Young Poet’, and the first question I ask myself everyday when I wake up, every time I feel stressed, every time I want to make a plan is simple; “How Do I Want To Feel?”, followed by “what steps must I take to get there?”
Try it. It’s been a game changer for me. Next level, of course may be to redefine “comfort” which can at times, currently, translate to “donuts”, “nap”, or “second helpings” 🙂 (hey, I ain’t no guru!). Don’t be afraid to make a list of things that you’ve already proven help you feel great. I’ve learned to love lists (thanks to my husband)! My (self care) list today was: Wake up without alarm, stretch long & slow, walk long and breathe deep, eat clean food, drink more water than yesterday, be grateful, use loofah, speak kindly to my body, & listen deeply for a reply…
Wherever you find yourself, may you acknowledge the highs and the lows with neutrality, resting firmly in this breath, only, and know you are loved, you are held, you are sacred, you are enough, and You Are Worth Your Self Devotion.