What does it mean to take care of ourselves?

Have you ever thought that maybe part of your suffering and troubles in life reside in the way you see yourself in the world and how you take care of your self in our wholeness?

Let me share what I’ve learned from life and work over the years. Since we are little, we each develop our own understanding of taking care of ourselves, most times learned from our families and those in the immediate world around us. For some this is about being safe and having a shelter to protect them from rain, sun and storms. For others is about being vigilant to defend from accidents and having food of the table. Most of us will understand by taking care of ourselves to be safe in the outer world and satisfying our physiological needs which is clearly essential for survival, but it is only part of the story.

Body. Your body is an essential part of your identity and you spend your focus on feeding and transforming your body to fit the profile of “beauty” or “normality” promoted by the outside world. You probably spend good earnings to dress with the fashion, you put on uncomfortable and unhealthy chemical make-up that affects your skin, you starve yourself or exercise excessively to change your shape and you go or think of going through invasive surgical interventions to change your look. Why do you do that? Because you are looking for love and validation in the outer world. Because you are not sure who you are, you have not discovered yourself yet, you do not love yourself yet and you move through life with the crowds searching for a sense of belonging and inner safety. What if you look in the wrong direction? What if you sometimes forget in this process to be kind, accepting and understanding with your physical body, to nourish your body with healthy foods and drinks, to give it time and space to sleep, rest and reenergize, and to listen to the physiological sensations inside to understand the messages sent from you mind.

Mind. Human mind is probably the most extraordinary creation in this universe, yet we have little understanding of how it works. You learned since you were little that you need to learn a lot and stimulate you mind continuously. Trained that way you gradually learned to identify yourself with your mind, to believe that you are your mind and most likely you now live your life in your mental space, at times following self-critical and self-punishing ideas. If you leave the door open to each thought that pops into your mind and you allow your thinking to shape your actions, they might lead to unpleasant circumstances and relational issues. You simply become the prisoner of our mind and permit your automatic mind to lead your life unconsciously into uncertain or even dangerous directions. What you sometimes might miss is that your mind is only one part of who you are and you don’t know that you can control it from behind the mind. In other words, you can become the observers of our body and mind and make a choice what thoughts to entertain and what to ignore, what thoughts to replace with others or just observe and take no action and then feel the emotions created by these thoughts.

Spirit. You feel the emotions created by your mind and the physiological sensations that manifest in your body with your soul. Like most of us you were probably born into a religion or another and you allowed that indoctrination to stay with you for your entire life. Religion becomes an integral part of our identities and is shaping how we look at the world and how we live our lives. There are great teachings behind each religion and faith and many people find healing and hope in the prayer and connect with their spirits in experiences filled with awareness and consciousness. But spirituality goes beyond any religion and doctrine and you can practice it your own way, by meditating, being present to your being and staying in touch with your self in your wholeness: body, mind and soul. You are spiritual when you free yourself from your programming, from everything you know and you permit yourself to suspend all judgement, all beliefs, all rules, and return to your being, the real you, the pure and whole spiritual being, having now a human experience through this body and mind. If you have lived until now in your body and in your mind, I would encourage you to just step out of your social conditioning and just be yourself, be “in spirit”, be connected with the real you.

Social conditioning. The outer world has shaped you and you became who and what was expected from you. You were programmed in all aspects of our lives including who to look at your body, how to think and behave and how to see your spiritual being, but the simple fact that you started from no experience and learned to become who you are today is the proof that you can unlearn what is no longer needed and  learn new ways of being, new ways of thinking and feeling and fresh ways of looking at life. Taking care of yourself starts with the basic self-love, self-care and self-compassion that will guide you in all aspects of your life. To love your body and nourish it with healthy foods, rest, healthful exercise, baths and massages. To love your mind and purify it from all the torturing thoughts, ideas and notions that keep you trapped in that painful experience of life unable to see the joy and happiness around you. To love your spirit and be at peace with yourself exactly the way you are, because you are a wonderful human being. Love yourself in your wholeness.

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