The Cook Awakening

Self-Care is a Dance

December 19, 2013
Posted in: Health and Nutrition, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation

Self care is a dance. I wish it were straightforward, a prescription the doctor could write and we could fill at the pharmacy, take once a day, and be done with. That would be simple, wouldn’t it?

But, especially when you have chronic health challenges, it’s often a dance whose steps seem to be changing every day. Sometimes because the way an ailment expresses itself goes through a transition, sometimes because you start a new treatment or supplement regimen, sometimes because the season has changed, or perhaps your hormones are changing due to aging. You may decide to remove a food from your diet to see if it makes a difference in your digestion or energy level and an entirely different set of symptoms you weren’t even consciously aware of disappears.

Nataraj, the Dancing Form of Shiva - symbolizing the cosmic dance of creation and destruction, birth and death.

Nataraj, the Dancing Form of Shiva – symbolizing the cosmic dance of creation and destruction, birth and death.

It can be tempting to judge your past as “worse” or “better” – “I was so much stronger when I was younger, now I can hardly make it around the block without getting winded, I hate this autoimmune disease!” or “How could I have eaten all that gluten for so many years! I was ruining my health! I feel so much better now.” Your story may differ in detail, but the common thread for many of us is that we either miss the past, or feel guilty about it in terms of our health. My life is very different now than in my twenties and thirties, before children, before Lyme, before Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. But I have found that it is possible to be happy now.

This preoccupation with the past robs us of our greatest tool in caring for ourselves – our ability to remain in the present. All that buzz about mindfulness and meditation you’ve probably read about or been practicing? It has a profound significance in your journey of self-care. What works for you today may not be what worked for you last week, or last year. Self-care is not simply about whether or not you eat well and exercise. It’s also about how you talk to yourself. Your rhythm of sleep. Whether you enjoy what you eat. How you implement healing protocols recommended by your health practitioners. Whether you are receiving healthy, healing touch. It’s about your body contacting the earth regularly, and your skin drinking in sunshine. It’s about healthy social interaction – friendships and partnerships.

It’s about having meaning in your world.

None of this is possible if you are lost in the past or the future. Meaning happens in the present. Sometimes the meaning comes through realizing how much the past has been coloring your present. “Wow! I’ve been getting a soda every day at lunch because I’m stressed at work and it reminds me of how hard it was when I was a kid at home. My big brother would take me out for a soda and it was the only time I got a break from it. I’m still trying to do that!” Or, “My mom made the best pie in the world. She learned it from my grandmother. Pie means home. Pie means love. Pie means connection.” Or, more tragically, “I was abused for years. Being sick now feels like that – I can’t get away, it goes on and on, there’s no escape.”

Are these real experiences? Yes, they are valuable memories to learn from and/or enjoy. But if soda or pie is harming your health, or if you are needing to make decisions about your body and you are lost in a post traumatic reaction to your physical experience, you need access to a more resourceful state of mind than one dictated by your childhood experiences. If you are judging your present state as better than or worse than your state last year, you might miss subtle signals in your state NOW that can help you attain greater healing on deeper levels. That great cleansing diet you were on in the beginning of the year that made you feel so energized? Over time it may deplete your stores of certain vitamins. If you hold onto how good it made you feel then, you might miss the subtle signals that would tell you when it was time to eat more nourishing than cleansing foods.

This is a dance. You are dancing with your body. You are dancing with your food and your environment. You dance with your health care providers. You dance with memories of your past and how your body holds them, with your hopes and expectations of the future, and hopefully you are dancing fully with your present experience.

How do you feel right now? Can you feel your body, alive and breathing? Are you doing all you can do to support it in its desire to live? Are you finding enjoyment in intending toward health? Or, does “being healthy” feel like a burden, deprivation, or an impossible, unattainable perfection? Those latter feelings are a sure sign you’re dragging the past or future into the present.

This is a practice. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’re mentally geared to analyze our world in ways that take us out of the present. But, it’s possible to shift that tendency with intention and awareness.

When you do, the dance changes. It becomes richer. More intimate. Even ecstatic at times. Yes, you may still experience pain or fatigue, but the relationship with the feelings is fresh and new when there’s less judgment about it, and you can just respond to what your body is asking for more simply. Tired? Rest. No judgment about whether you should be tired, what it says about your moral character or ability to keep up with the pace of the world around you. If you stay in the present with your experience of pain, inquire into it, asking it what it needs, you often receive surprising and relevant answers. Intuition happens in the present. It leads you where you need to go if you are sensitive to how it is communicating with you.

Take some time to be still. Quiet time is crucial to this dance. Do you allow yourself that?

Are you dancing or just running after an idea?

I invite you. Dance. Here. Now. This is your life.

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 19th, 2013 at 7:07 am and is filed under Health and Nutrition, Integrating Lifestyle Changes, Life on Life's Terms, Living with Health Challenges, Meditation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


4 Responses to “Self-Care is a Dance”

  1. John Poelstra Says:

    Thank you so much for this post. It came at the perfect time for me. I love what you say about “meaning” coming in the present and that living is not a static set of things that always work, it’s a dance.

  2. Durga Fuller Says:

    I’m glad, John. It’s not an easy thing to live, we humans tend to want certainty! The flow that comes with living this way tends to open up a lot of creativity, in my experience.

    Happy holidays to you.

  3. Ashara Says:

    I am spending more time in the peaceful zone, observing the upsets and explosions those around me are still experiencing, saying, yup, gluten, yup, not listening, yup, almost ready… At the same time, I am struggling, half in, half out of the Chrysalis, feeling ready to fly while still so low energy I just want to weep. Taking my time, doing the Sacred Dance of the Turtle Goddess, allows me to register both my joy at returning to a semblance of my former self-energy and fierceness simmering on low, while determination is at the forefront to getting me ALL THE WAY THERE, and my sorrow, tending carefully to my searing grief over all the years of suffering and lost opportunity. More and more, the pendulum sways back and forth in tune with a rhythmic life, no longer swinging wildly without a recognizable pattern. I plan to rest up, plan my new life, and breathe deeply into the Light inside. Thank you, Durga, for the space and the Sacred Moment, dwelling within…

  4. Durga Fuller Says:

    <3 <3 <3

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