Self-Care Rituals: PART 2
Rituals of Self-Care
In the previous blog post we looked at what self-care is, why it is important and how to DO IT starting with adjusting daily lifestyle routines to support your efforts of moving forwards in the direction of self-love through various everyday lifestyle routines and practices. However, today we’re moving into the deeper aspects of daily RITUALS that really have the potential to shift you into a new gear of self-care. These rituals have played a very key role in my life and helped me immensely in my practise of cultivating self-love and creating space in my life for deep healing and nurturing.
These daily rituals that I have found very helpful for me are listed in no particular order of importance, but instead are all very relevant and have all helped me immensely at different phases in my life depending on what I needed at the time. At the bottom of this post I’ve outlined a few questions & helpful action steps to take in order to help refine your engagement with these processes by prompting you to think about why these things are important to you and how you can create long-term habits out of them!
I hope you find them as helpful as I did :)
This is one self-love practice that has really changed my life since I started to adopt it regularly into my daily life. Essentially, it is an Ayurvedic technique of self-massage. This may sound strange, but honestly, it is so incredibly healing. Don’t bash it until you’ve tried it, folks! In traditional Ayurvedic technique, a particular carrier oil is gently heated to make it warm, essential oils are added and then one sits down on the floor (I usually sit on a towel) and literally begin massaging yourself – from head to toe. This is a sacred act of self-love. You are nurturing your body, taking time to be with it in a very tactile and tender way. Moving up and down along the muscles and around the joints in gentle actions that stimulate the lymphatic system. Not only does this have an immensely soothing and nurturing effect on the body & mind, but it also increases blood circulation in the body. It’s a total winner. Traditionally in Ayurveda, Abhyanga is done about 15-20 minutes before a hot shower so that the oil can penetrate deeply into the skin & body tissue.
Physical movement is one of the most healing things in the world. It shifts stagnant energy, energizes the mind & body and can really help elevate mood and release toxic build up. Whatever that looks like for you on any given day is GOOD. Be that a delicious yoga flow, a walk, a run, a cycle, a swim, a dance etc. For me, YOGA is my go-to because it fulfils me on every level: physical, energetic, emotional and spiritual. It is so much more than a physical practice, in fact, at its’ core yoga is about clearing and purifying the mind & energy body for higher states of consciousness, therefore, it isn’t really at all only about the physical practice. However, I put it under movement because there is simply something delicious about a strong yoga practice that creates space in both mind and body.
3) GET OUTSIDE INTO NATURE
This could be self-explanatory. But, just incase: NATURE IS THE BEST. Whenever I feel too caught up in my mind, the simple act of getting out into nature and grounding myself has become one of my favorite actions of self-care. It immediately brings me back to what is important in life, it gives me perspective and honestly just re-centres me to Self. I feel like nature is one of the most potent ways of getting out of the small-mind space (self: where things are largely filtered through ego, mental concepts & judgement) and into the vast-mind space (Self: where there is a presence, a deep stillness of being, a deep connection to all that is). One of my favorite things to do is to take slow strolls in nature. This way, I am connecting to the bigger world around me as well as creating a lot of internal space, it also is usually one of my favorite times to think as I have heightened clarity and connection to my intuition.
4) Using essential oils:
This is one of my absolute new favorite ways of showing myself and my space a bit of loving kindness. I have three essential oil burners: one in my bathroom, one in my lounge & one in my bedroom. I try to light them all each morning and evening and use essential oils that are uplifting, grounding and soothing. I try to remain consistent with this, but I am also not rigid - after all, it is about showing self-love not about being a robot! My favorite essential oils currently are: lavender, neroli, rose geranium, pine and ylang-ylang. I will do a post in the future as to which essential oils are most balancing for each dosha (once I have my Ayurveda series live!). You can also use essential oils in many other ways such as placing a few drops on your pillow at night to help with sleep (I use Lavender for this!), or using it as a grounding fragrance to rub gently on your skin throughout the day as a perfume, or in your yoga practice. Like the foods we eat, each essential oil affects us in a different way. Lavender is sweet, soothing & uplifting while something like sandalwood or pine is earthier, grounding and nourishing. By understanding the different qualities of essential oils you can begin to restore balance in small ways like this throughout your day. What I also LOVE about oil burners is that they really warm your space. As touched on in the previous post, often I find immense fulfilment and peace through the small acts of care such as taking 2 minutes to light my oil burner and make an intentional decision to care. Sometimes this intentional decision is hard to make: especially when you are feeling down, groggy, lethargic or not interested. But often times, like with most self-care things, these are the times where they will actually be of greater benefit to uplift your spirit!
5) Candles and setting the space – warm your space, make it cozy:
This is one of my more recent and most effective acts of self-care that has brought me immense joy. Even as I sit here writing this I have lit a candle and it is warming my space beautifully. There is something about actively making your space feel cozy, lived in and warm that goes a LONG way in soothing the soul. Things like lighting incense, lighting candles, tidying up your lived space or doing a good spring clean will do a world of good in creating a good energy in your home space which is such a powerful way of supporting yourself. We are highly sensitive beings and our environments play a much bigger role on our mental and energetic health than we cognitively realize. Try this for a few weeks and see what a difference it makes in how you engage and embody your space!
6) Little-er acts of care:
This one is an important one. Sometimes, the tedious, mundane tasks around the house can be the most boring. But, don’t let that fool you. Sometimes these tasks can be the difference between going into the day with an open, clear mind and heart or going into the day feeling grumpy and flustered. In my experience, it is often these little acts that have brought me out of major depressive or anxious periods. During times where I had no energy, will or desire to even live it was often little acts like making my bed in the morning, packing my clothes away neatly, cleaning my space – even if its’ just a little sweep of the floor or the smear of a wet rag over my dressing table – that afforded me the capacity to recognise the great comfort and solace in the ordinary. For someone prone to living in extremes I often found in these moments of dullness where I was feeling the void of existence that these moments of caring for the mundane, or not caring in that moment but doing it anyway, uplifted me immensely. Doing these seemingly meaningless things can be so incredibly grounding and nurturing. They bring you into a state of peace within the smallness of being. We can’t constantly feel absolutely elated about being living beings, and in the past, I have felt that if i wasn’t feeling that elation of being alive I was then in a “well nothing really matters” state. But, again, we don’t have to live in black & white: there is immense potentiality and beauty in the small, in the simplicity of sitting in your presence as an alive being right here and now. In the smallness of your physical form (small in relation to the greater scheme of Source!).
Write. Write. Write. Especially stream of consciousness writing: unfiltered, raw, not pre-meditated or planned writing. Just pick up the pen and write. See what comes up. It is often SO fascinating: things that you didn’t even know you were holding onto may emerge, things that you felt you had theoretically let go of or moved on from but in truth are still holding onto somewhere in your mind or body. Writing can be like self-therapy. Often it has helped me so much in working through complex processes and experiences. In my opinion, writing is like holding yourself in a therapeutic way. Often, the process of writing brings up a new perspective or way of understanding something that I had only ever seen or understood in one particular way. Writing has become one of my best ways of showing self-care because it creates space in my emotional, mental and intellectual body. It essentially helps me to integrate and digest my life experiences in a space that is completely free of judgment, bias or criticism. It doesn’t have to be neat, look good, be “reader ready” or anything like that. It is more about the process itself and the profound effect that it gives: a cathartic process of healing the self and attending to the psychological “fluff” that is within. As you work through the psychological gunk, you will feel as it leaves the energy body and creates space for you to go forward into the day or week with a greater openness & receptivity. At first, it can be a daunting thing to begin, especially if you make the goal too big (like: I will write for half an hour everyday). Instead, start small (like: write for 5 minutes every evening before bed).
8) Listen to Wise Spiritual Teachers:
This is one of the reasons I have come so far in my healing journey: truly. I began listening to Tara Brach, Mooji and Eckhart Tolle. I began infusing each day with moments of learning and expanding my awareness and understanding of human nature, the nature of the mind, the ego and the heart. It is, to this day, one of my favorite ways of showing myself care. I usually put one of the talks on while I go for a walk and fully immerse myself in the teaching, or I will put one on as I do my yoga practice or I will put one on while I clean my room or cook a good meal for myself. There is so much invaluable wisdom that these teachers/gurus hold and they lovingly share it with us all through social media. This is one of the reasons I am so grateful for social media: we can make contact with powerful people like the aforementioned without having to actually travel across the world.
9) Cook a Nourishing Meal for Yourself:
This is a seemingly obvious one, but again, it is one that is often over-looked. In a day and age where we are so busy and distracted and often do not prioritise our acts of self-care it is even more important to connect back to this point. We need to re-connect back to the process of nourishing ourselves through what, how and when we eat. We are at a point in life where it is easier to order take out every night or eat a packet of crackers and cheese (hopefully plant based cheese!) instead of putting the energy into caring for ourselves through proper food. Food is our literal fuel. It feeds our physical, emotional, and energetic bodies. It’s time we began to engage with the proper use of food as a means of restoring balance, maintaining harmony of body and mind and learning to love the process of caring for ourselves. In my opinion, taking care to adequately nourish myself is one of the greatest forms of self-respect there is. It is you saying to yourself, “I see you. I hear you. I attend to you. I want to live. And I want to live fully & vitally. I want to support you through life.” Creating food, eating food, sharing food should all be a joyful and loving experience – not something we don’t think about, negate or use as a way of punishing ourselves. AND of course, again, the theme of balance arises: some days’ self-care will involve delicious green juices and vegetable bowls and other days it will look like eating plant based doughnuts with friends and going out for pizzas. As long as it is nourishing you on some level: physical, emotional, mental, energetic, spiritual … you get the picture! For someone who has had a very tumultuous relationship with food in the past, I have come to value immensely the practice of mindful eating. It was an absolute game-changer for me. If you’d like to read more about mindful eating you can check out this post here: https://www.thehealingroot.com/sweet/sk7g68ddxjmh86np5kwxjkb4mrnb6f
10) Writing goals & Affirmations
Write goals for yourself. Let the goals be wise, realistic and achievable. Let the goals be inspiring and not supportive of negative patterns of thinking or behaving. Let your goals/aims/inspirations be positive guiding tools that are in alignment with your long-term well-being. I personally ALWAYS try to come back to this principle: in any moment that I am establishing a goal or hope, I ask myself, “is this coming from a place of higher love? Is this the path of least resistance and is this the path of me recognising what brings my soul into peace and bliss?”
Let them be tools that help you to re-establish what is important for you in any given moment. Let them mirror your deeper values and philosophies. Let them have a positive under-tone: for example, I will use a standard one that I see with many people I work with: start changing this goal “I want to lose weight because I will only be happy and accept myself fully when ____. I want to lose a minimum of 2kg in two weeks” to, “I want to feel healthy, happy and fit in two weeks - this practically may look like 1-2kg a week but the most important thing is how I feel. I actively recognise that the journey of self-love starts with where I am today, so I love myself now for where I am.” It’s important to begin analysing the nature of your goals: what is the tone of your goals (is it supportive of you as a whole being? Is the intention good and kind?). When the intention, tone and action to manifest the goals are all in alignment with what supports your highest self, the goals will fall into place with greater ease, in a seemingly effortless way, or at least with a sense of fluidity and joy.
11) Human connection
Connect with people who feed your soul. Let go of those that drain your vital energy. Or, if you can’t let them go, at least actively try to investigate why it is that they have that effect on you – and either change how you respond to them or recognise the places where positive and effective change can occur and follow through with that change. But, really, human connection is one of the most healing things. Trust yourself enough to let people in. People are wonderful. People are kind. People can often be powerful healing forces in our lives without their even knowing it. The people we share our lives with are powerful mirrors into the nature of loving the self: I have found in my journey that the more self-love and self-acceptance I had towards myself, the greater compassion, love and openness I could meet the people in my life with. This again comes back to the: fill your tank and then the tank will overflow with energy that will extend outwards. BUT, also in times where we perhaps struggle to connect with the deep self-compassion needed in a moment to carry us through in support of ourselves, people we love and who love us will be there to remind you why you are special and worthy of your own love as well as theirs.
This is a really awesome one and one that is SO important to me! TRY NEW THINGS. OR, even simpler: do things that DO NOT SERVE A PURPOSE other than the pleasure of simply doing them. In an achievement-orientated society, it is absolutely vital that we do things daily or weekly that bring us back to the recognition of our child-like, playful, FUN, base nature of simply BEING. I have caught myself so many times living like a robot: ticking things off multiple to do lists - which by the way has been shown to release the neurotransmitter dopamine, which basically makes it like a little bit of a high: think about the hit you feel when you feel you’ve achieved what you set out to do? This is great, it is a wonderful way of keeping yourself accountable, and making sure you get shi* done, BUT, we are NOT robots. We are not machines. We are tender, sensitive beings that also need to live with a degree of flexibility, openness and attention to our felt senses instead of living by our to-do lists. So, ask yourself honestly: do I do anything that doesn’t always serve a purpose? When I asked myself this I was shocked. My entire day was a barrage of doing things that were productive in some way: walking (exercise: physical & mental health), working (supporting myself/income/serving others), yoga (spiritual evolution) etc. Everything I was doing had a purpose. Then I started to say, okay: today I am going to simply read. And not a spiritual text (again, spiritual evolution would be the purpose here) but simply a NOVEL. WHY? Because it doesn’t have a purpose. It is just pleasurable. NB: catch yourself before you put “do something just for the sake of doing something pleasurable” on your to-do list, because then it has turned into another thing to “do”, which clearly is not the point!
Some HELPFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF:
1) What does self-care mean to me?
2) What does self-care look like to me?
3) Identify some (at least three to start) of the most meaningful and valuable practices/routines/rituals currently in your life? And now as the next few days and weeks pass see if this number can go up as well as their consistency.
4) Identify some of the ways that you can begin to prioritise these and make them more of a feature in your life currently
5) Identify some of the practices that you would like to introduce more of into your life and practical ways that you will go about doing this?
6) COMMIT yourself to doing them – and make them an absolute priority for at LEAST 28 days to a month (or more!)
7) IMPORTANT action step: write a page of how you feel currently before starting this process highlighting places you feel you’d like to work on/direct more healing energy into, why you feel the need to do this, how you hope to change/benefit from this, why it is important to you etc. Then, after you’ve finished the month of regular daily self-care practices and routines check in again and compare the two sheets so that you can remind yourself where you were, and how you are currently feeling now to see whether the changes are having a positive impact. This is an important step because often the positive changes are small and seemingly unnoticeable – that is, until you lay them against the backdrop of how you used to feel and see the significant changes that have now simply become the norm. Spend some time also identifying the rituals and routines you’d like to add permanently to your life or on a long-term basis.
I hope that you have found some resonating & grounding rituals/practices to help with showing yourself some love!
With much healing love,