self care, self-care/self-aware

Spiritual Self Care: Meditation

Whenever the subject of self care comes up, I can’t help but think about my belief that we humans are inherently spiritual beings. Hence, I believe the effort that we put into caring for our souls is incredibly important. Our spirits are our foundation. Meanwhile, in the quest to honour our most sacred selves, I know there are a number of popular rituals.

This week I thought I’d start to share my thoughts on a few different aspects of my spiritual practice.  Although I’m not a guru, I’m definitely a regular human being with an opinion.

Since it’s Monday, why not focus on meditation?

Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash

I might as well begin by making my relationship with meditation clear as day: Over the years my practice has been inconsistent. Nevertheless, I believe in it as a legitimate discipline.

I don’t know what your relationship with meditation is like, but think for a minute. If you don’t meditate, but you have friends who are trying to get you on board, what do they tell you? At the start of my meditation journey, I kept reading about how important it is for us humans to spend time in silence. On one hand this seemed logical to me. Our lives are full of organic and digitally-manufactured noise. How can the Spirit speak if we don’t give it room to move?

Meanwhile, on the other hand, I was a bit skeptical. I didn’t know a great deal about meditation, but the little that I had heard didn’t seem to make any sense. How was I supposed to find inner peace by sitting in a room, listening to absolutely nothing? Why was it important for me to focus on my breath? In spite of my doubts, the more I researched, the more articles I found that listed the supposed benefits of meditation. Clearer thoughts? A calmer mind? I was eager to get started!

And then, I did. Or at least I tried.

Over the years, the greatest struggle for me when it comes to meditation has involved the idea of surrendering–or silencing–my thoughts. Whether a session requires focus on a particular mantra or just my breath, ignoring my brain’s constant chatter can be incredibly hard.

There are times when I find I have to reason with myself. Those thoughts that won’t go away–the ones that chase me when I’m trying to take time just to focus on me… Are they interesting? Are they positive? No. Whenever I catch myself longing for mental rest of any kind, the thoughts that rise up and march around in my brain tend to be ones of frustration, anxiety, and worry.

Are any of them helpful? Absolutely not.

To this day, if I want to meditate, there are times when I have to actively ward off negative input. Somewhere inside of my brain, I swear, there’s a version of me that’s actually had to stand up and yell at my chitter-chatter, “STOP! This is MY TIME!!”

Now, Inner Claire isn’t always successful. But once my swirling thoughts start to disperse, I tend to stay alert, ready to follow up with more phrases to get me into the zone. Sometimes something as simple as “No!” or “Not now!” is beneficial. In this world of constant distraction, it’s important to protect my “me” time at all costs.

Mind you, this doesn’t always work. While I’ve done my best to establish a regular meditation ritual, there have been days when I’ve had to throw in the towel.

In spite of my resistance, when I’ve practiced consistently, I’ve found that what they say is true. Meditation works. Overall, when I meditate regularly I feel better and less anxious. My manic mind has begun to learn the importance of surrendering to the flow of life via surrendering my thoughts.

So what if you’re interested in meditating, but you’ve never tried it out. Where do you begin?

Guides like this one from Gaiam offer some basic information on the benefits of meditation, and how you can get started.

Sites for apps like Headspace include useful articles  which explore various types of meditation.

As for useful tools, currently I use Calm. In the past, I’ve tried Headspace, and Omvana.

If you don’t want to turn to your phone, there are books and CDs available. Years ago, I downloaded one of Jon Kabat-Zinn’s recordings.

And of course, there’s plenty of information available online for free. Whether you turn to YouTube, podcasts, or a variety of other resources, don’t be afraid to take time to support your mental and spiritual health. In the end your mind will thank you.

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self care, self-care/self-aware

The struggle is real.

A few days ago on my Instagram account, I spoke about facing yourself. Last week I was really moved by Pepper Brooks’ latest blog post.

In case you don’t click to read, in “It’s easier to be a Workaholic” Pepper wrote a bit about one of the masks that she wears. I was struck by how familiar it was to me.

Currently, I’m in a curious space. During the day I’m looking for work. But at night instead of sleeping, I waste time chasing information. To explain exactly what goes on, I’ll give you a slightly edited version of what I shared with her.

Photo by Hernan Sanchez

I’ve struggled with self-care for years. Specifically, with the foundation of it all: Sleep.

I know that if I slept better, I would have the energy that I needed in order to take care of myself properly. But lately, whenever I try to go to bed on time, I don’t.

Over time, I’ve followed a pattern of staying up for hours, satisfying my FOMO by shoving information into my brain. (I live in a small town. By itself that’s not problematic, but I have transportation-related issues. To add to this, I’m an introvert and I love being alone…Yet I’m also pretty lonely.)

I satisfy my need for contact and information by checking up on everyone and everything on social media instead of relaxing and shutting my eyes at night. When I have my laptop in the room, I’m looking up something or other.

But for what?

I’m attempting to satisfy some sort of ache. I know it.

And I also know the truth. I know that “I am enough” isn’t merely a cliche. But a part of me keeps resisting it.

I tend to feel and do better when I give myself a chance. Mediation helps. But really, I need to give myself room. I have to tell myself to ignore distractions.

Needless to say, I’m tired. (In more ways than one.) I’m sharing my thoughts because I know myself. I really need to breathe.

Some people don’t get enough rest because of their obligations. They have to stay up into the wee hours because of a job, or their children. But what’s my excuse?

The quest for a “good night’s sleep” is more than a cliche. So many of our body’s systems get the chance to repair and restore themselves when we go to bed.  When we don’t sleep properly– or specifically, when we run from the chance to do so–I believe we need to think. Take a look at our culture. It’s trendy for people to call themselves information addicts or night owls. But what’s really going on?

For years now, most nights, I’m up way past my bedtime. I have to order myself to put my electronics away. As much as I try not to, I can’t help but feel haunted: Whatever I want is out there. Meanwhile, there’s reality.

Whatever I think is going to satisfy me won’t come to me any faster by staying up late chasing air.

Given the reasons that we need sleep, I’ve come to a grim conclusion: I think that a part of me has been convinced that I don’t deserve to be whole.

These days I’m trying to work out the details of exactly what I deserve. Some of them are hazy. But I know that I’m worth more.

Sweet dreams.

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self care

Self-care? Self aware.

Well, guys, I’ve finally made a decision. I’m gonna start talking with you a bit about my struggles with self-care. Over the years I’ve come to realize that it’s something I truly need.

A recent edition of Chivon John’s #sidehustlechat focused on this subject. She asked us an important question: “Self-care has a different meaning for everyone. What is your definition of self-care?” I offered up a short, vague idea of what it meant to me. I even had the cojones to talk about taking “true” care of myself. And in return she asked


trueselfcareq

After that, Chivon and another chat participant (Hey, HecticDad!) encouraged me to share my thoughts. I’ve wanted to do so before, but hesitated. Now, I don’t know what’s come over me lately, but here we are.

“Self-care” is a pretty well-worn buzzword. I can’t tell you what to do about your journey. But what I can do is share why I’m investing in mine.

First there’s the matter of self-preservation. The fact is, women in my family age well. I’m at the halfway point in my life, and I feel as though I’m in bloom. Also, I’m in the process of rebooting my existence. I need energy and strength so that I can live through what’s ahead.

Speaking of “what’s ahead”, I’d also like to help build a better world. I’ve been talking about going back to work in education. If ever there was a career that demanded all of you as a human being, it’s teaching. I took horrible care of myself during my first go ‘round. I can’t afford to do that again. It’s bad for me—and my students.

Lastly, directly tied into improving the world, there’s the idea of service. Whether you’re teaching, cooking, singing, parenting—you name it—you can’t serve others effectively if you’re in pieces.

Overall, I’m learning that the greatest key to success lies in honouring my God-given self—body, mind, and soul.

I’m no guru. I’m just a regular woman. And I’ll admit it. I have fewer obligations than most: I’m single and I have no children. However I know that people with a variety of responsibilities can benefit from investing in themselves. I’ve heard them preach it, and I believe it! The more I work at self-care, the more I look forward to seeing what happens.

What are you doing to take care of yourself?

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