ear Miracles: The notion of self-care is one that many of us who are called to be of service both preach to clients and those we assist, while then turning around and not taking the time to do it for ourselves. It was best explained to me like this: if a little child was tugging on your skirt and saying, please feed me I’m hungry, please let me rest, I’m sleepy, we would do so, in a heartbeat. And yet. When it comes to our own needs, rhythms, cycles, and creature comforts so often it is a constant mantra of “wait just a little longer.” Wait just a little longer until this final paragraph is finished and then you can have lunch. Wait just a bit longer until the final stroke of paint is applied and then we can go to the bathroom. Wait just a little bit longer until there is more money in the bank, less war in the world, no suffering and then finally, maybe, you can rest.
As someone who has had a history of driving her body to the brink of exhaustion I relate to this, strongly. And yet as I have matured and now especially that I am a mother, I see that the old saying about an ounce of prevention is so very true. This lesson really came home to me last March — I was attending an intense workshop led by two of my teachers. For three days we were deeply immersed in other world work and then it was back to work for me, seeing and speaking with clients, creating ritual, lighting candles — doing all of the work that I so love to do. I knew by the third day that two days from now I would not be ready to speak to clients as I would still be allowing the words, ideas, images, and promises made to settle into the many layers of skin. So I doubled up on my vitamins, took extra supplements, made good use of my flower essences, and allowed myself to simply be, to rest, to make soup, read novels, and listen to music. It worked so well that I have started building in these little moments into my weeks and months.
In the Waldorf educational system they refer to these moments as “in-breaths” and I really love that. For every out-breath, outer activity, external engagement, social event there must be an equal in-breath — a time to reflect, relax, and recollect ourselves. We are often told to do these things so that we may go forth and be of service — the illustration of the oxygen mask is one I have both used and heard others use too, you know the old canard, put your mask on first and then assist your child? But I think it goes deeper than that. If we do not know how to serve ourselves, if we cannot make the time to care for our own bodies, then our service to others is but a shadow of what it might be.