January 13, 2016

How to Cultivate Self-Nourishing Practices.


A phrase common with people of life experience, nurturing is an essential component to life.

Loving, kind people easily set aside self-nurturing practices to show up for their jobs, families, and intimate relationships. A well-meaning gesture can become draining. Before long the habit of setting aside self-nurturing practices becomes established.

Taking care of oneself is a conscious choice. It operates at the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels of one’s being.

It demands self-love and putting such love into action. Words, though inspiring, ultimately fall short when cultivating self-nourishing practices. Ironically, words are the biggest challenge to putting positive transformation into effect. The kids, beloved, job, house, tasks and everything else are put before self-nurturing. Before long, one is exhausted, drained and raging about the toilet seat being left up again.

Self-nurturing practices are essential to keep one’s balance and not reach a breaking point. Even when life offers those challenges, rather than breaking, one bends to life pressures and perseveres with elegance.

Self-nourishing is a growth process. Similar to gardening, a seed is planted. Tended daily, this seed grows into what the heart desires.

Many people plant and tend seeds unconsciously. They wonder why they are stressed out, sick, and facing the same problems over and over again. The same choices will bring the same results. The same feelings, the same words, the same actions, the same reality a person lives every day. This cycle is difficult to break because of its simple familiarity. Familiarity is comfortable. Change is not comfortable.

The desire to change is the spark for transformation.

Once a person sees and recognizes where they are at, a fire has been started. Lacking a clear vision of what life can be, a dream becomes the driving force for self-discovery. Every person who undertakes this journey approaches it in different ways. There are core components essential to be successful.

Self-nourishing practices are essential for self-knowledge, serenity and a successful life.

The beginner doesn’t know where to start. Idealism causes big dreams, and when the facts of change are faced, despair is common. Failure is normal on the road to self-nourishment and self-understanding. They are the invitations to go even further and blossom in wisdom. A person learns to transcend force, and becomes an enduring force of nature.

Self-nourishing practices are based in love and devotion.

Teaching yoga at gyms has been a huge opportunity to observe attitudes to health. The people who wanted to be skinny, flexible and who were image conscious had the busiest minds, most stress, and highest levels of anxiety. They also tended to skip savasana, where all the benefits for yoga are reaped.

Yoga, a practice known to be nurturing, was a source of stress for these people. There was no love or devotion. They were showing up to class because of self-criticism, judgment, and a desire to manipulate their body to fit the image held in their mind.

The people who showed up for the love of their body had a different approach. They would chat with other people in class, took the time to show up early, to share their experiences, and to enjoy savasana. The difference in their approach shows a difference in relationship styles.

The exact same class was a source of stress for one person, and a self-nurturing practice for another.

Identifying genuine self-nourishing practices is a process of failure and success. Some practices may work for a time, and then are only a source of irritation. The practice itself isn’t important.

Endure with any self-nurturing practice.

Simply said, this is a moment-by-moment choice. It is a day-to-day endeavor. When faced with the opportunity to watch television, or to go do what your heart calls, heed the calling. If feeling lazy, show up to life anyway.

Transforming old habits into new patterns requires force of will.

A little goes a long way. Especially when a little is done every day.

Have you ever seen a tree grow over night? I never have. Nor have I witnessed any individual master the ability to take care of their body, mind and soul overnight. The practices and follow-through requries time and a developing self-awareness.

This makes a seed the perfect analogy. Every day the seed needs tending. As the plant grows, it is stronger, able to withstand the elements more and more. In time, it becomes full. Then it will blossom, and bear fruit.

In this way, each person chooses the fruits of their life.

Authentic self-nourishing practices always bear positive fruits. Serendipity becomes common place. One recognizes there is no chance. Life simply provides for the people who show up.

Self-nourishment fills one’s soul. From this well-spring one feels vital and empowered. Compassion and understanding develop. This liberates the soul.

From this space, life has transformed from tribulation to a journey.

Though the challenges of life will still occur, one’s capacity to bear and go through such times is strengthened. Even when faced with grief, trauma and the unthinkable, self-nourishing empowers an individual to respond increasingly with more dignity and grace.

These steps summarize how to be self-nourishing:

1. Observe what is self-nurturing.
2. Observe what is not self-nurturing.
3. When faced with one choice or the other, choose self-nurturing.
4. When failing, be patient and, when the opportunity presents itself again, choose self-nurturing.
5. Do this daily, as often as possible. A baby has to first wiggle, then crawl, and learn to walk before running.
6. Be even more patient.
7. Be relaxed and appreciate and recognize the growth and transformation happening from self-nourishing.
8. Be self-nurturing when not achieving one’s desired growth or transformation as quickly as one hopes.
9. Endure. Rinse. Repeat. Continue to develop in self-knowledge.

Just a side note: Self-nurturing practices tend to cause a person to feel calm, at rest and enjoy their life. If it causes stress, reevaluate either the practice or your attitude toward it. Just as the yoga class was stressful for some people, it was nurturing for others. Be insightful, and go far.


Author: Keith Artisan

Editor: Caroline Beaton 

Image: Flickr/Darion

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