self-care starts within

self-care starts within

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As some of you know, Whitney and I took to the road at the beginning of August with our senior shih tzu, Orson, and our newly-adopted pup, Edie.  We traveled to Missouri for Whitney’s parent’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration. As I posted earlier, traveling gives all kinds of opportunities to veer away from one’s chosen health path. I was successful at avoiding sugar.  Even with the copious amounts of sweets and baked goods (including those perfectly delectable-looking lemon cakes), I was able to resist temptation.

And I must admit, I really thought food would be the issue for me on this trip. And honestly, it wasn’t.  That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have fried chicken and the occasional potato chip. Sometimes those were my options…  My diet was not my normal anti-inflammatory one, but I felt reasonably good about the choices I made regarding food. Ok… maybe not the potato chips…

What I was surprised to discover on this trip is just how much of an introvert I am and how much I needed my meditation practice to stay grounded and maintain my own source of energy in the midst of nearly three days of visiting, celebrating and small talking. But while I was doing such a good job of keeping sugar at bay, I let my meditation practice fall by the wayside. In my desire to attend to my new dog, help with party preparations, support my husband in his role as emcee for the party, and spend time with my in-laws, my husband’s family and the rest of the nearly 200 guests who traveled for the event, I left myself out of the equation.

And why? Why is sometimes so hard for us to put ourselves first? Why did I put my desire to be there for everyone else above my need to be there for me? This pattern is an old one for me, born out of being a middle-child and the need to be of assistance.  But I think this time, it really hit home for me.  As an introvert, endless small talk saps me. Being around lots of other people for the majority of one’s waking hours is a recipe for disaster for me. Unless… I support myself with my meditation practice, namely the techniques of centering and cocooning.

edie

Edie, the extrovert, takes great joy in playing with Whitney’s niece, Bryn, while I lie on the floor in an attempt to get grounded…

But my ego wants to believe that I can do it all, I can keep all the balls in the air, without meditation. And the fact of the matter is: I can’t.  And on Sunday afternoon, I had a melt-down, standing in the kitchen with my husband, crying and freaking out about how tired I was and how I didn’t have the will to have one more conversation.  Thankfully, Whitney looked at me and said, “You’ve got to go into the bathroom and center and cocoon. You have got to pull from your own source and sustain yourself first. And you’ve got to do it quickly because we are supposed to be in the garden taking group pictures.”

And that cocoon kept me going for the rest of the afternoon. It kept me visiting or just being quiet and observing without feeling like I had to keep the small talk going or match the energy of those who get jazzed by large gatherings.  As I stood in the bathroom and surrounded myself with white light, I felt peace and ease and a sense of being at home even though I was still in a situation that was not my norm. And most importantly, it reminded me that self-care and subsequent care of others starts within.

Letitia Walker
letitia@liveyoganow.com
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