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Nurturing yourself

February 13, 2011

This newsletter article was originally written on 3/29/09.

During these stressful times, a glorious gift to yourself can be nurturing your physical and emotional bodies.

Many years ago I learned important lessons about nurturing myself when my ability to walk became restricted for a few months. In addition to the physical discomfort, I became depressed as my world narrowed. However, once I stopped resisting and decided to relax into my predicament, I found great joy in the hidden treasures of slowing down.

The world seemed remarkably full of life everywhere I turned. To aid in my recovery, I began using essential oils early on. Lavender in particular always lifted my mood. This sensory delight led me to begin balancing the pain in my body with a variety of simple, healthy pleasures throughout each day.

Because of my physical condition, each step was a precious gift. So I carefully planned outings around sensory experiences that would rejuvenate me. Sometimes I drove to a park and took 5 careful steps to sit on a rock by a pond, breathing deeply as I watched ducks glide in and take off. Or I would drive to an expansive overlook to watch the sun set.

When I became more adventurous, I traveled to an antique gallery/cafe and sat in one of a number of luxurious chairs as I waited for a lunch table. I remember the delicate wafting of tomato basil soup and pepper spiced ratatouille coming from the kitchen. When my meal arrived, I savored each bite, noticing the life force flowing into my body. It felt as if I had never really tasted food before. Gratitude began to pour into my being.

At home I rediscovered the comforting presence of a hot water bottle and a rainbow shaft of light from a crystal moving gracefully along the floor. Before long, everything around me seemed to spring to life–a philodendron in a hand-made pot, the grace of a sheer lampshade. I felt an inner happiness for the simple blessings of life itself that I never knew when I was rushing about.

Also during those quiet few months in my life, I was drawn to move deeper into meditation. I read Peace is Every Step, by Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who suggests that along with inner stillness, people simply smile many times throughout the day. Smiling changes everything from your attitude to your muscles to your hormones. It helps heal us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. So I began looking for more things in my limited world that caused me to smile.

Here are a few: the soulful eyes of a dog, finding a face in the clouds, children squealing with delight, earrings that dance, ice cream, feeling a cat’s purr, a single flower in bloom, juicy mangoes, warm sunlight filtering through tree leaves, the earthy smell of a horse’s coat, flannel anything, lemon sorbet, swans, a potter’s glazed bowl, a capella music, a cup of cocoa by a fire, squirrels playfully chasing each other around a tree.

Eventually I made a complete recovery, and I enjoyed the healing process, well mostly. However, the lessons of engaging in the beautiful dance of life, becoming still every day, and smiling often remain with me to this day.




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