Three-pronged self-care

Cramped contracted withdrawn stunted
Burdened confined
Paralyzed
Cluttered crowded scattered
Buried drowning grasping
Restless distracted

Purposeless pointless

That is how I feel, physically and otherwise, when my life is out of balance. My body aches, especially in my neck, shoulders, back, and hips. My brain runs a hamster wheel of inconsequential details and short-term planning. I don’t sleep well, or I keep myself up late cramming in more words and thoughts and pictures, until I drop off from sheer saturation. It’s not always this unbearable, but the difference is of degree; whenever things are off-kilter, this is how it feels. Cramped contracted withdrawn stunted… 

When we first moved into my aunt’s house I could tell I was heading in this direction, so I attempted to steer myself clear. I restarted my morning pages, which helped a little; writing siphons off some of those ceaseless thoughts on my head. Another day I dragged a mat outside and did yoga under the trees in Ayi’s backyard, watching with wonder as three hawks landed in the branches overhead. The next day I took a long shower, and then I turned off my computer and music for a while and walked around the house in quiet.

Later I thought, hmm. I need all these things together.

Reflection. Thinking about what matters. Pulling what’s true from the babel in my mind. Reconnecting to a sense of self that isn’t buffeted about by external factors. Morning pages, thoughtful conversations with friends.

Expansion. Remembering that I deserve to take up space in the world. Stretching into that. Feeling my worth. Playing with the outer reaches of who I am, who I might be. Yoga,  stretching, dancing, tending to my appearance, bold action. 

Reception. Opening. Making room for the new. Taking in. Quiet, listening. Solitude, outdoor time, meditation, savasana, freedom from electronic devices and other stimuli.

Any one of these things is great, but unless I bring in the others too, I still run the risk of falling into the hamster wheel. I notice that I’ve listed them in order of what’s easiest for me to access; quiet stillness is the hardest thing for me, and I’m always putting it off.

I suspect it’s going to take me a long, long time to remember how to take care of myself in this three-part way, but at least now I know what I need. I’ll have to keep coming back to this as we travel and it throws me off-kilter. Reflect, expand, receive.

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