Taking time for oneself is crucial.
We humans spend lots of time and energy looking after others, and we very often neglect ourselves in the process. While this is "normal," in the sense that it's the norm, it isn't necessarily healthy. Whether you're a caregiver, or you're in a caring profession, the chances are pretty high that the "scales" of your attention are out of balance. And we all know how important balance is.
For the past 11 days, I've been on spiritual retreat. I didn't go to an Abbey or Monastery (though that would've been super cool!). Rather, I retreated at home. And it was glorious. I've never before felt this good, or rested, after a "vacation."
So what does an at-home spiritual retreat look like? Well, here's one example:
Bookend every day with gratitude and meditation. There's no better way to set the tone for the day, or to create the best possible mood for sleeping and dreaming.
Random acts of mindfulness throughout the day. I love hanging laundry on the clothesline and washing dishes by hand. Closing my eyes, I listen to leaves rustling in the trees, birds singing, dogs playing, traffic sounds in the distance.
Self-reflection, intention-setting, meditation, and journaling. What am I noticing? How do I feel about it? Where do I want to direct my focus? What do I want to accomplish or manifest? What are my goals and values?
I like to set an intention to connect to my Higher Self and to receive the answers in meditation. When they arrive, I write them down. It feels good to receive help from the one who knows me best, and it validates my belief that the answers are always inside us. We simply need to ask for guidance and then set our intention to receive it once it's given.
Mindfully drinking a glass of water is such a wonderful, meditative experience. I love the way water nourishes my body. It cools my mouth and throat, sends a wave of coolness through my stomach. I feel each cell, plumping up, sharing the treat. It feels good to be alive and to take care of my body.
Taking a nap in the hammock feels like the ultimate indulgence on an early Autumn day. I’m in the hammock, looking up at Aretha,
my favorite backyard tree. She stands sentinel over me, giving me shade, her leaves rustling, singing their lullaby. Everywhere I look, I see her stretching up and out, standing proud in her energy. She’s beautiful and protective. Aretha has my back. I thank her, send her love, and give her Reiki, while the hammock gently rocks me to sleep.
Walking in the open space and witnessing the change of seasons. With each visit, things look a little different. Grasses, nearly as tall as me, are now golden and dry. Wild sunflowers continue to bloom, here and there, and milkweed pods are drying, beginning to crack open. Wild plums--heavy, even in their smallness--tumble easily into my outstretched hand. They're red and purple, and their skins look like frosted glass. I pop one into my mouth and bite down. The fruit is sweet and juicy, the skin is satisfyingly sour. I'm grateful for this spontaneous gift. My favorite tree, here in this space, is a Giant, one whose sisters and brothers are clustered in a nearby group. They're a quiet bunch--the Giant and her family--they all keep to themselves. I admire this. But then, I've always loved the tall, silent types.
Checking in with the bees is a labor of love. I love being a beekeeper and witnessing the evolution of this little hive. My daughter, Erica, and I are a beekeeping team. The last time we checked, a couple of weeks ago, Her Royal Highness, Queen Latifah, had been burning the candle on both ends. There was so much brood.
I decided to check the "super" this week, since it was just me. I pulled a few frames from the middle, and they were heavy with honey and bees. Things are going well. They're going to have a good winter. I expected nothing less. The girls look healthy and focused, and I sense their anticipation. No time to waste; winter is coming!
Outside, nearly all day, every day. Let me tell you, it was glorious. Nature is my Church. Being outside, especially this time of year, with the changing colors and cooler temperatures, is such a monumental act of self-care.
Unplugging is essential. Automated "I'm away" email replies and the "do not disturb" setting on the phone are both Gifts From the Gods. I am truly thankful for these gifts. Down-time is good. Quiet is good. Technology fasting is good. Life is good.
Playing with the dogs (also knows as the hooligans). Being around the fur babies, 24/7 was such a treat, for them as well as me. We spoiled each other with attention and long walks. Don't you just love the way animals advocate for what they want? I want to go for a walk! Pet me! Throw this ball! I want a treat!
They express these wishes, certain that they'll be granted. They're not afraid of rejection or of looking "needy." They're just asking for what they want and/or need. Animals are so smart.
Maintaining my "normal day" morning routine kept me feeling balanced during my time off: Wake up, express gratitude, have a big glass of water, make the bed, meditate, exercise, yoga/stretch, dance, pour some coffee, then go outside and welcome the rise of a new day before getting into the shower. A really good morning routine is a priceless gift to one's future self.
I hope you'll take time for yourself, whether it's 30 minutes, a day, or a week. Remember that you're worth it. In a world where we're always giving, we must remember to receive.
Sending love and light . . .