Self-care for Sensitive Souls
Reconnect with your inner resources
When we’re overwhelmed or depleted, the ideal solution is to curl up and have a good rest.
But what about when we have to keep going, and resting’s not an option? We have commitments that we can’t just drop, a stack of things we have to get done.
It might seem that we just have to grit our teeth and push through.
At times like this, compassionate self-care may not sound powerful enough for the job.
It’s as if that's great for when all is well and we’re skipping through sunlit fields of daisies and unicorns, but not for when we’re a hot mess of aching and exhausted.
But is that true?
When we’re in pain, we naturally try and do whatever we can to make it go away.
Sometimes that works and then great, we’re back to normal.
But stubborn pain that won't go away is another thing altogether.
It can make us feel burdened and frustrated with the way the pain is affecting our everyday life.
This calls us to a deeper level of self-care.
Fortunately we have just the thing: an innate source of relief for pain and distress.
It's profoundly soothing, freely available to us, and works better the more we use it.
There’s plenty of evidence that the simple practice of meditation can free us from the hold that pain has over us, and bring ease and comfort whenever we need it.
Here's how it works ...
You know how it is.
Sometimes we just need some compelling ‘what’s in it for me’ reasons to get on with our meditation practice.
When we feel the benefits are a bit patchy or hard to pin down, it’s nice to have some encouragement from scientific research.
If you’ve been around meditation for any length of time, you’ll have come across loving-kindness meditation.
Loving-kindness is the practice of cultivating the feeling of universal love - in other words love for all beings, beyond personal or romantic love. Typically in meditation we do this by directing compassionate wishes towards ourselves and others.
You would probably expect the research to show that loving-kindness increases positive feelings of goodwill and empathy, and indeed it does.
But researchers have turned up some other, unexpected benefits ...
Our culture tells us that ‘faster is better’.
But do you ever feel that you’re running to keep up, and that something precious is getting lost in the process?
Our modern life is geared to help us go faster. We can get almost anything we want with just a click, we can access limitless information in less than a second, and we can communciate with each other instantly and at any time.
We’ve learned to be productive and to multi-task.
Yet in spite of rushing to get loads of stuff done in as little time as humanly possible, our lives continually feel incomplete and lacking ‘something’.
We feel exhausted and diminished.
What's going on here?
When you’re in the thick of it, and you need to slow down from feeling like a billion banshees are shrieking all at once in your head (or whatever stressed-out feels like for you), you need something that works now.
Well, good news. You have just the thing for the job.
You may not be able to change the situation you’re in, and you probably won’t find it helpful in the heat of the moment to give yourself a stern lecture about how you shouldn’t get so stressed.
But you can pull some helpful tools out of your meditative medicine bag to help you deal better with what’s happening.
So today I thought I’d just remind you of what they are …
Have you ever had the experience of someone listening to you?
Really listening, with love and kindness, giving you the space to be exactly as you are. Not judging, not interpreting, not cutting you short with advice.
And their attention is completely with you. (They’re not checking their phone or anything.)
It feels good. It’s relieving. It soothes your pain and heals your heart. Your Big Problem seems smaller and a solution starts to appear of its own accord.
But we don’t always have a compassionate friend to be kind to us when we need it. We don’t always have someone to hold that space where our own wisdom can naturally arise.
Or maybe we do ...
If you have stubborn pain in your life that's not responding completely to treatment that's aimed at the physical level, you may be wondering whether there’s more going on than just a physical problem.
Perhaps you suspect that your headaches, low back pain, pelvic pain or other chronic symptoms have something to do with stress or anxiety or some kind of emotional upset.
But you don't really know what exactly. Or what you could do about it, even if you did know.
Pain is complex and rarely 'just' physical. This doesn’t mean that pain is all in your head, nor that it’s your fault.
What it means is that your pain is trying to tell you something.
There’s still some summer left (now and then) … but are you finding it hard to get out and enjoy it?
When we’re in pain, it’s not very tempting to go out and about. We want to hunker down and take care of ourselves.
And if it’s just a day indoors here and there, it’s no big problem.
But over time, the snags with staying in can start to build up. So is it worth the effort to take a spell outside our four walls?
If you’re easily disturbed by noise, crowds, bright lights and smells, you may be having mixed feelings about going away on holiday.
I know how that feels, so here’s how to have a calm and comfortable trip …
The clocks go back this month … an extra hour in bed, yippee.
All very well if bed is a lovely-inviting-sleepy place.
But at least one in ten adults in this country suffer with chronic insomnia - and if you’re one of them, you don’t slip into delicious oblivion with a sweet sigh. If only!
I don’t know about you, but I always get butterflies in my stomach at this time of year. The holidays are over, and real life is lying in wait, just where I left it.
What can you do when you need to get on, but you’ve been ambushed by your worries?
Here's how to get from uneasy to unruffled – whenever you need to ...
“No. 1 Health Rule: Give yourself permission to be happy ... Women in particular need to keep an eye on their physical and mental health, because if we’re scurrying to and from appointments and errands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to-do’ list.”
– Michelle Obama
Amen to that!
Not so easy is it, though? Maybe you resonate with how my yoga class mornings used to go …