You might be surprised to learn that I don’t take showers. Before you pinch your nose and slowly back away, you should know that I do take baths. We have a lovely clawfoot tub in my house, but getting one of those special oval shower curtain rods installed into the 12-foot ceilings has been at the bottom of the list of house projects since we moved in. So I just take baths. Often they’re bird baths, five minutes of scrubbing with a couple inches of water in the tub.
But every now and then, I take a proper bath. I fill the tub up halfway with just-slightly-less-than-scalding water, dissolve some Epsom salts (because, yes, I am that much of a gramps), pour in a few drops of essential oils (vetiver and cypress are my current favorites). Sometimes I listen to a meditation podcast (Tara Brach is my jam), and sometimes I read a book, and sometimes I drink a tiny tumbler of red wine. I might even light a candle. I get out feeling renewed, literally washed clean. It is so nice.
This is self-care, but it’s self-care on the surface. It’s useful, it’s pleasant, and I like it. It’s like washing the car. It makes it look nice on the outside, maybe stops the bird shit from eating away the paint, but a clean car doesn’t mean a car that runs well. It still needs gas in the tank and oil in the engine.
We need deeper practices to keep us at our best. Yoga is one of those practices. Rather than letting us tune out, yoga asks us to tune in, to go deep into what is really happening, right now, in this moment. It cleans out the muck in your engine block, keeps the pistons firing, and now I’ve run out of automobile metaphors. I don’t even own a car.
Figure out what some of those deeper practices are for you. Yoga is likely one of them, if you’re reading this blog. What else helps you feel like yourself again? What gets you back in your body and out of your ever-spinning brain? What helps you to feel small on the scale of the universe and large on the scale of your life? Here’s a list of mine:
- Aimless walking in Couturie Forest in City Park
- Going to the beach. Any beach.
- Sitting in meditation in the morning
- Sitting next to Lake Pontchartrain
- Cooking and eating a delicious and complicated meal (must have at least 3 components to qualify)
- Going to my secret spot on the Mississippi River batture
- Singing with a group of people
- Talking on the phone to my mom (Sometimes. Sometimes not!!! :))
- Sorting my art supplies in my studio (This one seems silly, but separating fine-tip from chisel-tip markers really restores an inherent sense of order in the world.)
The workshop I taught this weekend, Heartspark, is one too. We took a dive into the deep end of vulnerability, and bravely, came out on the other side. This workshop just scratched the surface of what we delve into through life coaching. Looking each other in the eye, holding space for the pain and the pretty, seeing one another fully, and truly being seen: this is the deep work of self-care.
We need these practices for self-care at all levels, not just an online shopping binge or a beer after work. We require maintenance of a higher degree to keep running on all cylinders. (Ha! I thought of one more!)
Tell me, dear ones, what are yours? Leave a comment on the blog to let me know.