The other day I went to an event; a facilitated gathering of authentic relating games. When I walked in it hadn’t quite started yet. There were about 10 people sitting in the prescribed circle of chairs-- awkwardly waiting for something to happen. They knew that they were supposed to be sitting in these chairs and they were doing just that. In contrast, on the floor, lying down outside of the circle and close to the wall was a man slowly stretching and rolling around on the ground.
“Ahhhhh.. that man knows how to take care of himself,” I thought.
Which brings me to the inquiry of this new moon in Cancer…
What does it take to effectively take care of your needs, even if it looks a hella lot different that what is seems like you should be doing?
Examples of Radical Self-Care
Here are more examples of what I’m talking about:
Quitting a job at a well-respected company with a steady paycheck, because something about it is slowly killing you and you don’t want to die without at least trying to pursue your dreams
Eating only 2 of the 10 dishes at a family gathering because you are sticking to a strict no dairy, no sugar, no gluten diet
Co-creating an out-of-the box set of relationship agreements with your sweetie even though most people trip out on it
Not sending out your newsletter exactly on the new moon even though that’s when you always do it because you needed a little more space from a super full week.
The Self-Care Triangle
So back to the question, what processes need to be in place in order to take care of yourself beautifully, even if it doesn’t conform to the norm?
When I asked this question in meditation a sense of an internal family constellation came forward: child, mother, father. It struck me that in order to take care good care of ourselves, we need to not only pay attention to our inner children, but our inner mothers and our inner fathers need to all be working together in harmony. The child expresses the needs. The mother listens to and responds to those needs. And the father protects and practically supports the family’s needs.
You could say that our emotions, sensations and impulses express our inner child’s needs. That part of us that attunes to a listens to and interpret those emotions, sensations and impulses with a caring presence is the inner mother. And the part of us that creates an energetic barrier between what is going on out in the world and supports what is needed within our individual realm of responsibility is our inner father.
So in the case of the guy rolling around on the floor let’s assume his body started sending him signals. Tightness in the neck, stiffness in the shoulders, an impulse to stretch, a glimmer of ease when the thought of taking some space to stretch came up.
He could have ignored all those signals. He could have registered the discomfort and chose to pull out his iPhone instead and distract himself from the messages of his body. But he didn’t. He listened with care. Like a good mother he got a sense of what was needed with deep listening he offered an experience to soothe his body.
And thus he pulled himself away from the circle and placed himself on the floor, despite that not being an explicit part of the mini-culture. He created an energetic barrier between what he needed to take care of himself and what was going on in the field. Like a good father he took action and held the space with strength.
Here is an example of child, mother and father all working in harmony.
How about you?
How graceful are you at this dance of self-care?
How does your body and emotions express its needs? Do you listen and attune to them? Do you take responsibility for them?
At this point in my life, you’ll often find me regularly dancing at airports. Yah. Me, my headphones, rocking it out at an airport terminal looking like a freak-- a happy freak. That’s what I hear my body needs in between long flights and I can hold guard while I attend to my needs. But it hasn’t always been this way.
It took me years of practice to even register the sensations and emotions my body was sending out. It took me years of lovingly listen to all those sensations and emotions and get better and better at figuring out what I needed. And now I’m learning more and more on how to trust my own authority and give myself the space to do what I need to do.
Here’s an exercise to help you get better at taking care of your needs:
Pretend you are a family counselor and you’re writing some notes about the current state of a family in your care (in this case, your inner family.)
First, write down how each person in the family is doing their job.
eg. My inner mother sometimes ignores my inner child. She is often overwhelmed.
eg. My inner father feels strong to a point, but when he gets in this situation at work, he collapses and doesn’t take a stand for what the family needs.
Second, write down your inner counselor’s sense of what each family member needs:
eg. My inner child needs to know that her parents are committed to her well-being
eg. My inner father needs to believe in himself more and could also use some more community.
Got it? My hope is that you will get better sense of how this dance of radical self-care within can be beautifully supported.
I would delight in seeing more people dancing at airports, rolling around on the floor, creating relationship structures that work for them and doing work that feeds their soul.
Care to join me in a beautiful, love inspired self-care revolution?