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August 27, 2019

Radical Self-Care for People who Give a Damn.

 

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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” ~ Audre Lorde

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Radical self-care enables us to feel well enough to change the world.

Let me just say: it’s a weird time to be alive.

The world is in a pretty intense spot right now. It sometimes feels like the political, economic, social, and environmental issues of our time are too much to handle. Amidst the chaos and constant stimulation, it’s easy to feel helpless—to ask yourself, “what could I actually do to make a difference?” and then resolve that you are too busy living your life to take tangible action.

Instead of observing this chaos in its entirety, what if there were a way to start smaller? What if you could connect with actions that felt more manageable now?

Have you ever considered that the first, best thing you can do to make things better is to establish a foundation of caring for yourself?

This is, in itself, a pretty radical idea. Not only am I inviting you to care for yourself, but to love yourself, and to remember that you are worthy. You are worthy of feeling good, loving yourself, and living in a world that isn’t so f*cked up.

Now, more than ever, we need to be able to show up for the causes that matter most to us—but so many of us are overtired, disconnected, disembodied, overworked, undervalued, and hustling just to hold our lives together. We’re riddled with brain fog, lethargy, exhaustion, burnout, stress…and this experience is stripping us of our power, making us more dependent on a system that is failing us. We are overfed, yet so undernourished. The mental exhaustion of being a human right now is insane; between the constant demands of engaging with so many forms of media, and the basic stresses of trying pay our bills on time, many of us are feeling the burnout that is nearly inevitable. If we stay passive to our personal imbalances and wellness challenges, we will be unable to fully activate in order to initiate real, lasting change.

Listen, we are in need of a real revolution—and it begins with you.

So, do something radical and give yourself the opportunity to feel better than you knew was possible. Because the truth is, we need you at your best. We all need each other to make a lasting impact and advocate loudly for a more compassionate and respectful world. In order to take back our power on a national (and even international level), we’ve got to quite literally feel up to the challenge.

With that in mind, let’s reverse engineer for a moment: what is the foundation of social change? What do we need to start a revolution?

First of all, we need to be well. We need to be the embodiment of inspiration, passion and resilience. We need to have the clarity of mind to think critically and question the systems that are designed for repression. We need the vitality to reconnect with our desire to thrive, which motivates us to strategize and take action within our communities.

What is the point of the radiance that intrinsic wellness brings about, if we’re not using that energy to live in alignment with our values?

A good friend and fellow Ayurvedic practitioner once framed the potential impact of self-care in this way:

“Clean your body,
Clear your mind,
Do your dharma.”

Dharma is referring to your divine purpose in the world. It is the path that leads you to exactly who are you meant to be in this life, and it is something that we often lose sight of. Think about who you want to be in the world and how you want to be in the world.

What are your limitations to achieving this way of being? Not enough energy? Not enough time, or not enough motivation? Or maybe just…not knowing where to begin. What if I told you that it was entirely possible to break down these personal barriers, and regain access to who you are meant to be?

Well, it is possible, and the time is now.

From a holistic Ayurvedic perspective*, the radical qualities of inspiration, passion, and resilience are responsible for life force, clarity of mind, and perseverance. These are a result of three different measures of health:

  1. Your doshas (vata, pitta, and kapha)—how the elements manifest within and around you
  2. Your digestive fire (agni)—how effectively you’re absorbing and assimilating nutrients
  3. Your subtle essences (ojas, tejas, and prana)—how well your cells communicate with one another

*The word Ayurveda is translated as “science of life,” or the wisdom to live well. “Ayur” means life and “veda” means knowledge or truth. This word is used to describe the vast body of healing knowledge that traces its roots to India, dating as far back as 5,000 to 6,000 B.C.

If each of these factors is relatively stable, you will be unstoppable.

Establishing the ideal nourishment and lifestyle practices for your unique constitution, is the simplest—and arguably most enjoyable—way to go about supporting your doshas, digestive fire, and subtle essences to set you up for an approach to wellness that expands effortlessly into the world around you.

Here are three key ways you can begin to address these aspects of your well-being:

1. Honor your inherent constitution—doing so will inspire a deep understanding and appreciation for your individuality, helping you to celebrate your strengths and overcome your challenges.

2. Enjoy more warm, cooked food—doing so will unlock powerful nutrients that can nourish your body and activate your mind.

3. Spend more time in nature—doing so will ignite the cellular intelligence that can only be conveyed through the air, water, and sunlight offered from the earth.

Incorporating these three foundational recommendations invites a commitment to yourself, an openness to perseverance, and a willingness to trust that, after thousands of years, the ancient healing science of Ayurveda has figured a few things out.

Here’s another radical idea:

Set yourself up to make choices every day that help you naturally align with the rhythms and elements of nature.

For example, try waking and sleeping with the sun or eating your largest meal of the day during lunch, when the sun is highest in the sky. In doing so, you will be better prepared to serve and support the planet because your body will be closer to its most natural state of balance.

We are designed to work in unity with the influences of the earth. Ayurveda itself is the science of daily living. This means making choices to live in a way that aligns with your values. So, take a moment to reflect: how are you living your values?

If you can refine the way you care for yourself, you will be able to maximize your energy throughout the day, such that you have a greater capacity to tune in to the world at large and find small ways to contribute daily to something outside yourself.

So, ask yourself, how are you feeling today? Are you living your mission? Do you feel like starting a revolution?

And before you get overwhelmed, remember: the revolution starts within.

Get radical first by developing solid practices of self-care and nourishment for your body and mind. Then, you will naturally embody more conscious choices outside of your body—even in how you go about your day. Then, the potential for a more external revolution will come through you. And when it does, you will be ready—because you have built an unwavering foundation within yourself that cannot be shaken by doubt or judgment.

Self-care evokes a true knowing of who you are.

And the self-care practices that come from the ancient tradition of Ayurveda will remind you what it means to come home to yourself. And that is power.

Now listen, I’m not saying that you’re going to adopt the self-care practices of Ayurveda and wake up feeling your best every single day. But I do believe, with simple shifts to support your well-being, that you will feel better more often and have the tools to recover more quickly from the lows.

I always tell my clients, Ayurveda is not about never going out of balance, it is about shortening the amount of time that it takes for you to notice you’re feeling a bit off and actually do something about it.

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

And, now, let’s recap. We’ve covered a lot of ground.

What’s the most radical thing you could do right now? Take care of yourself.

Why? Because this will enable all other radical actions (in your community and the world at large). Commit to your life and take responsibility for your wellness.

“Once we begin to feel committed to our lives, responsible to ourselves, we can never again be satisfied with the old, passive way.” ~ Adrienne Rich

~

Molly McConnell

author: Molly McConnell

Image: Author's Own

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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