It’s Not About Eating Broccoli – Defining Self-Care without the ‘Should’

photo credit Pontus

A friend recently told me that whenever she hears the words ‘self-care’ she immediately quits listening. A wall goes up within her.

She continued: “For me, the term self-care contains an underlying should. It contains this sense of something that has to be done daily, like doing the dishes or eating broccoli. It is not something that leads to growth or healing. A certain amount just needs to be done in order to function.

I know that what I’m describing isn’t how you talk about self-care but… I get stuck on the word ‘self-care’ and then tune out whatever comes next.”

Can you relate to my friend’s experience?

Do you also experience either a slight twinge of guilt or a full-fledged wall of resistance when you hear ‘self-care’?

Does it remind you of all the things you know you ‘should’ be doing but aren’t (for whatever, perfectly valid, reason)?

For myself, even, there were many years when the term self-care evoked guilt, a sense of obligation, and complete resistance.

It has been a long and winding journey for me to get to a place where the term self-care evokes a sense of nourishment, support, and strength. To get there, I’ve had to rewrite what self-care means.

For me, now, there are two levels to self-care.

Self-Care, Level One:

The first level is somewhat akin to what my friend speaks of above, with a couple of caveats.

For this level, I define Self-Care as: the small things you do on a (mostly) daily basis that nourish and support you.

The 2 caveats are:

  1. Your self-care may look very different than my self-care. Perhaps a long conversation with a trusted friend for you; 5 minutes staring into space doing nothing for me.
  2. If it feels like an obligation or a ‘should’, it isn’t self-care. Is there something else that calls to you that doesn’t have a ‘should’ attached? If so, do that instead.

The second level of self-care is what I call Sacred Self-Care.

You can learn how to create your own Sacred Self-Care practice here.

I define Sacred Self-Care as those activities, practices, people, etc that bring you fully (safely, gently) into your body and into the present moment.

This level has less to do with what you are doing and more to do with how you are being as you do it. It has to do with bringing a deeper level of awareness into your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Eventually everything becomes self-care.

As we approach self-care in this manner, eventually everything we do (whether it is a ‘self-care’ activity or not) becomes self-care. When we are truly present in our bodies and in the present moment, even things we normally dislike (like eating broccoli or doing the dishes ;), have the potential to be self-care.

Every moment of our life truly becomes sacred.

This is the essence of Sacred Self-Care.

This is the essence of everything I teach and of the healing sessions I offer.

Self-care, as I teach it, does lead to tangible healing and growth.

Through doing self-care in this way we become more resourced and resilient. Deeply held traumas are gently met and dissolved as our capacity to be present to what is true, what is real, and what is needed in the moment, increases.

Basically, more of *us* becomes available in every moment of our lives.

We are better able to meet life’s challenges and joys without resisting, collapsing, or withdrawing (at least not for very long). We become better at meeting ourselves… all of ourselves… our light, our shadows, our pain, our joy, our fear, our grief, our deep, deep ability to love…

And then…

And then, magically, effortlessly, we begin to be able to meet, to love, to respect, and to tend to those we love – our partners, children, our greater families, our friends, our communities, our earth!, and on and on and on – on a deeper level than ever before.

We begin to move effortlessly in the direction of work (and play) that truly feeds us and that allows us to contribute our true gifts and unique talents. Our lives (whether unassuming or grand) inspire others to the same.

We discover that just us being our unique, vulnerable, authentic selves brings the possibility of healing and transformation to those we encounter.

For me, self-care is a path of endless growth and healing, first for ourselves and then rippling out in all directions.

How about you?

What do you think (or feel) when you hear ‘self-care?’ What tangible benefits have you experienced as a result of your self-care practice?

Photo credit: Pontus

What Little D is Teaching Me about Struggle, Frustration, and Learning New Skills

IMG_20150718_082254753Yesterday I was watching my 5-month old as he struggled and struggled and struggled to reach out and grasp his favorite chewable book. He was on his stomach and the book was just barely within his reach. Except, every time he reached for it, his fingers would brush it and push it further away from him.

Oh, the resulting frustration! He howled and howled.

And then, he would try again.

Again, he would just touch it, only to push it further away.

As his mother, watching him, it was excruciating. I SO wanted to reach out and give him the book. And, I did a couple of times but within a matter of moments it would once again be out of reach and the entire process would begin again.

Watching him, I found myself wondering…

  • What if all of those times when I struggle and struggle and struggle and it seems as if the thing I so want (to learn, to become, to have) is always just out of my reach… I’m actually on the verge of learning some new skill?
  • What if the struggle in and of itself is a gift? A gift because without the struggle I wouldn’t be able to learn something new that will lead to a huge growth spurt in my life.
  • What if being rescued from my struggling means that I never master the new skill or receive the gift inherent?
  • What if feeling frustrated is a healthy part of the struggle and in no way indicates the thing I’m attempting is impossible (or that I’m a failure)?
  • What if it is ok to fully express frustration and then try again?

The skills we don’t yet know we need.

For Little D, two of the skills he is on the verge of mastering include:

  1. an increase in fine-motors skills as evidenced by a better ability to grasp; and
  2. crawling!

If I continue to give him everything he wants the moment he wants it, he will not be able to struggle and struggle to reach it himself. Ultimately, me ‘rescuing’ him from his frustration will delay him learning to crawl.

If I give him the space to struggle and to figure things out on his own he will learn to crawl which will, ultimately, open up his little world in an entirely new way. In fact, it will open his world in ways that he can’t even imagine in his current state of frustration and struggle.

What if the same is true for me? What if the same is true for you?

The Surprising Truth About Why Healing Sessions by Skype can be More Effective than Bodywork

There’s a question that has been on mind for quite a while. The question is:

What is the most empowering way to work with clients?

After a session with me, I want you to leave better equipped to be an agent of your own healing. I don’t want you leave just “being healed”–I want you to leave with ways to heal yourself.

For the past 16 years, the majority of my work has taken the form of in-person Ortho-Bionomy (bodywork, healing work) sessions. While I’ve also offered sessions by Skype and workshops, rituals, and classes, the bulk of my work has been in-person, one-on-one. And, I’ve loved it.

I thrive in one-on-one sessions where we have the opportunity to go really deep together. I love being with my clients as they walk through pain, anxiety, and fear. I love seeing the transformation that occurs in their physical bodies and in their lives as a result of our work together.

However, I’ve noticed there can be a dynamic that is very hard to shake.

While the purpose of Ortho-Bionomy is to empower the client to notice what is happening in their bodies and to choose comfort and wholeness, the fact that they are on a massage table and I am standing beside the table sets the stage for me to be “the healer” and for them to be “healed by me”.

In short, clients unconsciously give their power to me.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This dynamic shows up in all healing professions like massage, bodywork, counseling, life coaching, you-name-it. Good work can happen in this format, and clients can walk away feeling much better and having experienced shifts and healing.

I believe that much deeper levels of healing are possible.

These deeper levels of healing come when the client is truly empowered in their own ability to meet *themselves* – whether in the presence of another (healer) or in their own lives in general.

This is the heart of what my work is about –

  • meeting each person where they are,
  • teaching skills that help them deepen into a healing relationship with themselves, and
  • holding a safe, high integrity space that allows for whatever stands in the way of full healing (fear, grief, anxiety…) to come forward and to be met by both of us, together.

This process unfolds naturally over Skype as the power differential is less obvious.

When I work with clients over Skype, they automatically show up expecting to be fully engaged in the process. There is much less of the ‘I’m here; now heal me’ dynamic.

The more you show up to fully engage with me in a session, the more potential there is for true healing and transformation to occur. Yes, I am still in the role of healer but there is more of an expectation that I will be teaching you skills that you will take into your daily life. There is more of an (again, mostly unconscious) expectation that you will be a vital part of the healing process, that you also have a role to play.

It is clear to me that sessions over Skype hold the most potential for the healing work I find to be the most effective and empowering.

Are Skype sessions right for you?

Here are some questions to help you in your discernment process.

  • What am I really seeking? Healing and transformation? Relaxation, stress-relief, to zone out? To learn more about myself? All of these (and more) are valid reasons for seeking help. Some healers can even do all in the same session. Knowing what you are truly desiring, however, can assist you in choosing the best healer for your current situation.

  • Is it important to me to learn new skills that I can use to improve my day-to-day life? Again, both yes and no are valid answers!

  • How much do I want to engage in the session? Am I looking for someone to ‘heal’ me or do I want to be an active participant in the process myself?

My healing sessions by Skype –

My sessions are perfect for people who are seeking deep healing, who want to learn new skills, and who are ready to transform the painful, stuck places within themselves.

Whether you:

  • are working with physical pain,
  • are in the middle of a major transition,
  • have a long-standing issue that you are ready to do deep work with, or
  • are just ready to step into a new level of your own resilience and power,

I am here to be your partner in your healing journey. Whatever your story, you are not alone; healing and transformation await.

Learn more about Skype Sessions.

The Beauty (and Danger) of Growth Spurts

IMG_20150518_155430564

My little one just went through a growth spurt. Seemingly overnight, he suddenly became markedly larger.

After weeks of feeding and feeding and feeding him without it appearing to make a difference in his size/weight, suddenly, just like that, he was noticeably bigger and heavier.

The overnight change was rather shocking.

While I knew, theoretically, that these times of sudden change are called growth spurts for a reason, it was incredible to actually witness the growth and seemingly out-of-nowhere transformation.

Which got me thinking… :)

As adults, we go through growth spurts too.

As an adult, a growth spurt could look like a dramatic increase in our skill level with regards to the thing we do – singing, public speaking, writing, woodworking, playing an instrument, coaching, parenting, writing…

For instance, you might spend days and days trying to master a new, more complicated song on your guitar and then, suddenly one day, you discover you can play it perfectly. Simultaneously, your ability to play in general takes a huge leap forward as well.

Deep self-care also leads to growth spurts.

For those of us on a path of deep self-care, we become more grounded, more compassionate, and more loving both of ourselves and others as a result of a growth spurt.

What makes it possible for a growth spurt to occur.

When on a path of deep self-care, we commit to learning about and doing the things that nourish and support us on a daily basis… those things that help you connect to our bodies, our Selves, and the present moment.

From this place of nourished self-awareness and inner resilience, we are better able to meet pain – whether physical or emotional.

As we continue to meet our pain using all of our self-care skills, eventually a growth spurt occurs and something big shifts and transforms.

Often, these transformations seem to happen overnight.

One day we still find ourselves triggered by the same old thing. The next, we are able to stay centered in ourselves and respond in a completely new and different way to the very situation that just yesterday caused us so much distress and pain.

The old pattern no longer sticks to us in the same way.

We no longer need to react out of fear or anxiety and can instead respond with a much higher level of kindness and compassion.

However, last night didn’t make the entire difference.

Yes, we can now respond differently to pain today than we could yesterday. Yes, we have more options today than yesterday. But, whatever happened last night was not ‘why’ the growth spurt occurred – at least not entirely.

These growth spurts both DO and DO NOT happen overnight.

What I want to point out today is that while it may seem that this growth (this shift) occurred overnight, it both did and it didn’t.

Rather, it was all those previous nights of you showing up, of you continuing to meet and work with the things in your life that evoke fear, anxiety, anger, and doubt that made it possible for the growth spurt to occur.

The beauty of growth spurts.

The beauty of growth spurts lies in the marked difference from one day to the next.

The danger of growth spurts.

The danger of growth spurts lies in the it being really simple to:

  1. believe that the growth spurt happened because of the ‘thing’ you did the previous day or days before the spurt which can
  2.  lead to you discounting your own power in this process.

Perhaps you worked with a healer or coach or therapist, went to a yoga class, tried a new medicine or herb, or attended a workshop or other event.

While The Thing likely did help to initiate the growth spurt, it isn’t the sole cause of the growth spurt.

Rather, all of your previous self-care set the stage for The Thing to be effective.

Giving The Thing the credit for your growth spurt (or healing/transformation) is dis-empowering.

Not only is it dis-empowering, it also discounts all the time, effort, and energy you apply on a day-to-day basis to care for and nourish yourself.

Plus, it sets the stage for disappointment the next time you are seeking a shift and the same person (or practice or event) doesn’t lead to the healing you seek.

The take-away.

sending love and cool breezes (if you are in need),
larisa

The Link Between Solstice and Self-Care

IMG_0418We are about to encounter that moment when the sun appears to stand still in the sky – the solstice.

For those of us in the northern hemisphere, the days will continue to incrementally lengthen until June 21st when the sun will appear to stand still for a moment before reversing direction (from the point of view of us here on earth).

This reversal in direction leads to the days becoming incrementally shorter over the next 6 months until the winter solstice occurs.

The link between solstice and self-care.

As the solstice approaches, I’ve found myself thinking about how this cycle relates to the practice of Sacred Self-Care (or to any path that leads to growth, healing, and transformation).

First, let’s take a look at what happens at this time of year.

In general, as the days lengthen, they also become gradually warmer. Then, solstice occurs and the days gradually become shorter.

As the days shorten and the hours of sunlight decrease, it would be reasonable to expect the days would become gradually cooler as well.

However, that is not what happens. Instead, they become warmer and warmer for the next two to three months. Two to three MONTHS! It takes nearly a quarter of a year, essentially until the equinox, for the results of the solstice (the sun reversing direction) to become fully apparent and for the days to once again become reliably cooler.

How does this delay in the effect of the sun’s reversal relate to our self-care practices?

When we are on a path of deep self-care, we can expect moments of profound insight that lead (eventually) to growth, healing, and transformation.

The moment of insight can be likened to the day of solstice.

A pattern has fundamentally shifted. Nothing will ever be the same again. There is a complete (internal) shift from one state of being to another.

However, just as the days following the summer solstice continue to become hotter even though they are now shorter, the very pattern you experienced deep insight into is likely to become even more intense and more challenging prior to you experiencing tangible results in your external world.

This delay can lead to extreme doubt regarding whether that moment of insight or shift actually occurred.

It can lead to a desire to give up, to questioning the point of your self-care practice, to thinking it doesn’t work, it will never work, and you might as well give up and eat pizza and mindlessly watch tv and browse fb all day (or whatever your thing might be).

The importance of continuing your practice of deep self-care.

It is in these moments of doubt and uncertainty, of increasing intensity of the very pattern/habit that you thought was ready to transform and heal, that it is MOST important to continue sinking into your practice of Sacred Self-Care.

Now, in addition to continuing to use all your skills to meet the increasing intensity of the original pattern, you also have the added challenge of meeting all the doubt and uncertainty (and perhaps frustration, resentment, and anger as well) that are arising.

It isn’t easy; and yet, it is the way through.

You received the insight. Now the real work begins.

As Brené Brown so eloquently states ‘the insight is not the transformation.’

Once you receive the insight, the next step is to apply what you learned over and over and over until, at long last, the effects begin to make themselves known… until the healing, growth, and transformation you seek does truly and fully arrive into both your internal AND your external world…

…until you find a new balance (arrive at the equinox of your cycle of transformation) within yourself and your world.

Then, the cycle is reset as a new pattern arises to be transformed.

Then, as you continue your practice of deep self-care, another pattern that is ready to be transformed will present itself and, just like the path of the earth around the sun, you will eventually experience another moment of solstice, of deep and profound insight.

This insight will again be followed by increasing intensity until it is also integrated into the very core of your being, until the equinox once again brings a new balance of personality.

This cycle repeats…over and over and over.

Just as the earth continues to cycle the sun, you will continue to experience (initiated, supported, and sustained by your sacred self-care practice):

  1. an insight (solstice) ->
  2. an exacerbation of the pattern seeking healing combined with the work of integrating the insight fully into your life ->
  3. a new balance and greater wholeness of being (equinox) ->
  4. a new pattern arising into your consciousness seeking transformation ->
  5. another moment of insight/shift/healing (solstice) ->
  6. and on and on and on…

In times of increased turmoil, it is helpful to remember that the equinox does always follow the solstice.

The important thing to remember as we approach solstice and the following intensifying heat of summer is that the equinox does come. A new balance is eventually restored.

While it may seem that the endless days of summer or of increased turmoil will never end, they will.

There will come a day when your insight will be fully integrated into your life, when you will experience a greater sense of ease, wholeness, and balance within and without.

Until your personal equinox arrives, you have your practice of deep self-care to help you meet every moment that comes along with equanimity, with grace, with support, and perhaps even with gratitude and celebration.

For your consideration:

Have you experienced this Cycle of Transformation as I describe it? If so, what does linking this cycle to the natural rhythms of the earth and sun evoke in you?

Where do you currently find yourself on your personal cycle of transformation?

Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.

My love to you, this week leading up to summer solstice 2015.