A lot of the challenges we face in our body and heart, is often related to a lack of self-care. More specifically, the right type of self-care.
We can go the doctor, take some meds, go into some form of therapy or remunerate on why we are feeling like this. While perhaps all that is really needed is a decent act of self-pampering.
Self-care allows us to open the door to a more balanced body from which deeper insights can come up — surging from the physical body instead of the mental one. We take on different perspectives, learn and grow.
But what type of self-care do you need, really?
We are a multitude of bodies and selves
There are different ways in which we can restore our ‘heartfull body’. In fact, our body is so much more than our physical body. As Fernando Pessoa, one of Portugal’s most profound poets once said:
Each of us is several, is many, is a profusion of selves. So that the self who disdains his surroundings is not the same as the self who suffers or takes joy in them. In the vast colony of our being there are many species of people who think and feel in different ways.
Our body consists of different systems that interact and can either strengthen or block each other.
When your physical body is tired, but your mental body says: “I have still so much to do — i can’t allow myself to rest now, or do something nurturing.” — then you are denying your body to re-balance itself.
The same is true when every time your feel sad, your mental body is there to tell you: “I won’t allow myself to feel sad — I cannot feel sad about this — let’s do something fun”.
In the brain this mental control of emotions would lead the old brain ( = emotions and physiological reactions — unconscious) to compete with the new brain ( = thinking mind — conscious). More unbalance will follow, expressed either in difficult thoughts, emotions, energy, physical discomforts, or harmful behaviors.
Dr. James Gordon — Founder and Director of The Center for Mind-Body and a Clinical Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Family Medicine at Georgetown University — puts it in this way:
Imbalances may be physical, emotional, mental, conceptual, social, spiritual, or all of them at the same time. They’re all connected, so the idea is to look at the ways you’re not in balance at this moment. When I work with a patient, I know that sooner or later I will need to address all of these dimensions. Each is part of who we are, and they have a profound effect on each other.
Balancing the heartfull body
An act of self-care can harmonize this inner competition and each of our body systems can be a gateway to re-balance, let them communicate with each other and let the energy flow — some examples :
- Physical body — yoga, massage, stretching, sport, dancing, meditative walking, eating healthy, kindness and compassion meditation for the body, energy diary…
- Emotional body — working through old emotions or taking care of present emotions through therapy, bodywork, heart and self-compassion meditations that go deeply into the source of the pain as well as embrace it with acceptance, writing a gratitude journal, …
- Mental body — letting go of certain thought and behavioral patterns by coaching, writing, mindfulness and self-compassion meditations: softening the critic voices, body awareness, …
- Social body — meet up with friends, connect with others that inspire you, hugging a person, or an animal, write a message of gratitude to someone that is very dear to you…
- Spiritual body — going into nature, writing down your heart wishes, connecting with the universe, and acting on your values, dreams and flow states. Doing something creative or take yourself on a date to a inspiring place, …
Fact is, we need to nurture all of these bodies. If we focus on only one of the bodies: e.g. we meet up with others every time we feel bad, then on the long term, we might subconsciously ignore other parts that are needing to be held in awareness (e.g. sadness).
Nurturing all of them
This continuous distraction may close the door of insights and will only bring more unbalance in the future. It may even turn into striving of wanting to feel good all the time, and we all know what that brings — the opposite of what we are aiming for.
The question is not which strategy is the best — they can all be very nurturing, depending on what your heart is needing on that moment, and what your intention is. The question is —
Do I allow myself to…
- stand still, observe my thoughts, emotions, body and heart?
- investigate what is needed to be seen and take care of it? Or do I run away?
- learn useful practices that will allow me to observe more deeply and gently?
- invest in myself? Including time, and resources?
- perform acts of kindness to myself?
- be radically honest?
Sometimes an simple act of self-care can be: observing what is going on and asking yourself the right questions.