How is your day so far? Mine, yesterday, involved waking early and – being Sunday – spending some long and languorous time rising to the surface as slowly as I liked. Then I did forty minutes of gentle yoga, to lovely music, incorporating Pranayama breathing and some self-orchestrated stretches, with and without a ‘roller’; a half-hour sauna including meditation and self-massage (feet, hands, face, ears…); a shower that started with body-brushing plus facial scrub and ended with jet massage; all my favourite aftercare (for me, that’s rosehip oil on face, argon oil on hair, Aveda’s gorgeous “Stress Relief” oil on neck, decollage and temples and hemp body lotion everywhere else…including feet); irrigated my nasal passages with a solution of sole and then sipped a pot of organic Dragon Well to accompany a gluten free breakfast including lashings of coconut oil, more lovely music and extremely good company.
This is, ball-park, the kind of ritual dedicated to myself that I have learned to make so important in my everyday life, not just for special occasions and trips to the spa. Its my way of self-honouring and of celebrating all the sensations that I love to experience, versions of which are readily at my disposal without ever having to go anywhere or book an appointment.
Whatever your way, work out what that is…and then do it; often, with no excuses. At the very least, I aim to do this, or something like it, every weekend while my partner goes to his early yoga class and then we meet up for breakfast. Whatever works for you, make it important – and make YOU important, not as a luxury but a necessity. Like all aspects of self-love, I would say its the absolute pivot point of, not only recovery but, ongoing wellbeing, longevity, youthfulness and fundamental good health. And of all those other things you tell yourself you, so pressingly, “have” to do…since it all starts with YOU.
Now for the really important bit…
Today, I woke up in a very different body. I could feel my pain switches flipping on late last night, in response to strong geoeffective conditions following a double solar flare, and I woke up in a lot of stiffness and discomfort to a very dark morning that was living up to the fact that today is the shortest of the year.
So, I took some boswellia extract and went off to my yoga mat where I lit golden lights all around me and put on lovely music. I placed a heat pad under my back and dressed in warm clothing (yesterday, I wore nothing) and I concentrated on what felt good, eased into gentle stretches and moved my body in ways that felt most intuitive. I used the roller to arch my back and massage my neck and carried out a neck, face and head massage, stroking down from the bridge of the nose and from the middle to the outside of the forehead in firm strokes that help fluids to drain through the lymphatic glands beneath the surface. I stretched my mouth into a fake yawn and rotated my jawline, stroked in semi-circles behind the ears and kneaded into the ear cartilage. I stretched back my fingers towards my wrists and massaged my hands and feet from this surrendered position on my mat, allowing my body to let go and sink into the floor, feeling the cradling pull of gravity and letting go into its arms. I sat up for some Pranayama breathing and gave myself to a few minutes of watching a collared dove that kept circling past the window with the light under its wings. I could have followed-up with a warm epsom salts bath but decided, instead, to stay wrapped up in my cosy outfit and to apply a warm flannel to my face, then massage rosehip into my skin, Stress Fix oil onto my temples, neck and hairline, pure hemp oil into tender breasts, hips, stomach and back. Afterwards, I used the aromatherapy vaporiser (today, I used rosemary, eucalyptus and frankincense) to transform the downstairs living space, considered where to sit for best comfort, how to light the room for best feel-good factor and continued the lovely music while I started my day…making the ceremony of self-love part of that day.
This – in a nutshell – is one of the most beautiful ways that creating a ritual of self-care really works; it grounds that loving intention into a series of favourite acts that really work for you and which can be recalled, almost without having to think about them, when you most need them. When you wake feeling awful, when your body feels less-than, you might hardly know where to start with the desire to make that feeling better except for the ritual you have practiced and engraved into your life at times when you feel much better, feel most celebratory and playful. By reenacting these sacred ceremonies dedicated to YOU – and doing so often – you anchor them into the “ordinary” fabric of your experience and can quickly draw on them, adapt and make use of them when they are most powerful of all; which is at times when you feel you have lost that loving thread, lost your sense of appreciation for all that you are, have fallen off your physical perch. At the altar of yourself, you get to gently reenact a series of self-loving acts that brings you back online with yourself and remind you – like a softly spoken “I love you” in your ear – that you are cherished and deeply cared for, that what you are feeling matters, that there is no thing beyond this intimate pause in space-time claimed for yourself that is more worthy of your attention than you at this or any other moment; because, in your life, it all starts and ends there, in the infinite capsule of your consciousness watching the experiences of life unfold. Once experienced – and repeated over and over in the ritualised form – this feeling can never be lost and holds the power to transform any experience that could ever present itself to you, be that external or even pain in your body. What a gift to yourself on the path to self-empowerment and joy.