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May 22, 2014

Using Peace & Quiet as a Method of Self-Care. ~ Ashleigh Hitchcock

houseplant

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” ~ Eleanor Brown

A reflection.

I have a chaotic life with three kids, two to four jobs and a dog. There are a lot of moving pieces in my life. When I think of self-care, I think of finding quiet moments of rejuvenation.

Spending a few moments in silence, here and there, keeps me sane and gives me peace of mind.

Here are a few tranquility tricks I have up my sleeve to help squeeze calm moments into my busy day:

1. Meditation. Sitting meditation is simply finding the quiet spot in our minds. I spend 10 to 15 minutes doing a sitting meditation, before I wake the kids up. I light a candle and a small piece of incense (that takes 10 minutes to burn as a timekeeper). I sit on my block and check in with my posture and breath, I bow and I breathe. In and out. I return to the out breath if I find myself thinking about anything. Quieting my mind reminds me that I always have a silent place residing inside of me. It’s comforting.

2. Plants. Plants are surprisingly composed. They are graceful in their serenity. My houseplants are lively and energizing. Yet, they don’t make a peep or talk back. They are good listeners and tolerate my rants. In my garden, I get grounded, when I dig my hands into the dirt. Taking care of my houseplants and garden brings me back down to earth—literally.

3. Going on a walk. Getting out and moving my body helps me clear my mind of worry. Complete solitude is not guaranteed during a walk—I may stroll past another human being, but it keeps me from getting cooped up. Listening to the sounds of nature is relaxing and revitalizing. Hiking is my favorite form of walking.

4. My dog. Baby is my best friend. She is a great listener, always compassionate and hopelessly loyal. I know that some dogs are aggravating when they bark and make a lot of noise. Not Baby! I trained her, from puppyhood, to be a pretty quiet girl. She’s impulsive and excitable, but I cut her some slack, because she’s quiet enough to not get on my nerves. Having a dog is a perfect way to celebrate loving companionship without having to deal with sassiness. I have never had an argument with my dog.

5. Yoga. I have a home yoga practice. Bright and early in the morning, I dedicate at least 20 minutes to having a good stretch. Yoga is a breathing practice. The rhythmical in and out of the breath is soothing. Yoga also stretches the fascial tissue and breaks up the fuzz between my muscles. This creates little pockets of space all over my body. This space gives me the room for autonomy and my own process of self-discovery. Yoga is simple, but its positive attributes affect me profoundly, on a cellular level.

Caring for myself first, is necessary, if I’m going to be my best, in service to others.

~

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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

Photo: Used with permission from Rain Hitchcock, and Waylon Lewis

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