I just read this wonderful medium piece about self-care that I wanted to share.
I think there’s an assumption that self-care means checking out and disconnecting from the stresses in our life. My own tendency, as I’ve written elsewhere, is to grab a drink or watch a lot of TV to get my mind off things. Other people might go on a trip or a spa for the day and relax.
But I’m not sure any of those coping methods have ever made me feel better. What it does is push away all the feelings I want to ignore-- all that anxiety, stress and rejection that’s underneath, always percolating in my unconscious-- so I feel numb to any of it.
But as the medium piece points out, there is a better way, and it involves a meditation practice:
“So the practice of self-care is training our minds to re-embody rather than dis-embody, and making a space safe and comfortable enough to let that process happen. And from this lens, self-care begins to look a lot like meditation practice. In meditation, we’re training two parts of our mind: concentration, defined as the ability to stay with our present experience, and awareness, knowing where our minds are in any given moment…
This is all that self-care is: creating a space — by making it comfortable or enjoyable or exciting or anything else — to bring us back what’s going on in our bodies. To see what’s going on in our minds. To feel what’s going on in our hearts. And we can bring this framework into anything we do — even watching tv, listening to music, or eating a meal can be opportunities to re-embody.”
This all rings very true to me. Meditation is a wonderful way to figure out what’s going on in the dark recesses of your psyche and face all the shit we all want to avoid. It’s often uncomfortable, but maybe we all need to feel more uncomfortable and pay more attention to the needs of our bodies and souls.
(I am a psychotherapist in Brooklyn, NY. If you're interested in therapy, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am open to Skype sessions as well.)