Radical Self Care: It’s OKAY to Put Yourself First

When is the most important moment? NOW
Who is the most important person? THE ONE YOU’RE WITH, WHICH IS ALWAYS YOU.
What is the most important thing to do? TO CARE

Yoga is time where we get back in touch with caring about ourselves. Self-care is essential to a productive, peaceful life. Developing an attitude of self-care means seeing yourself as the author and expert on your life story. Authoring one’s own life assumes some measure of authority and requires appreciating yourself. Sadly deep down a lot of us don’t. Or we don’t think we are worth the time loving self-care requires.

Being on the mat breathing in our poses literally helps us learn about ourselves as we alchemize a cocophony of emotion, feeling and thought. It is incredible what we can accomplish when we care about ourselves. It can heal all sorts of wounds, even low self-esteem. A great meditation from Thich Nhat Hanh suggests we practice self-caring by taking a feeling, let’s say sadness, and talk to your feeling: say to your sadness “I am taking care of you now.” Acknowledge this feeling is you and as you breath out, let it go. Then allow for the next moment to unfold and the next feeling. Breath into that one.

Chapter 1.33 of the Yoga Sutras is translated by Nichala Joy Devi to say “So often we only see our shortcomings and blow them out of proportion. At the same time we take all our good qualities for granted or fail to acknowledge them at all.” That’s so not fair to ourselves. As adults, taking a time-out is an important part of practicing compassionate self-care. It is a chance to upgrade our relationship with ourselves. (And we really should upgrade our personal relationship at least as often as we upgrade our iTunes).

How are you taking care of you?

Lately, how have you been taking care of you? It’s easy to get too “busy” and lose track of the importance of practical self-care. But nurturing ourselves is not a luxury; it is a necessity. It is one step toward achieving peace and happiness. The first time I took a radical 30-day sabbatical, it changed my life. I attended an incredible yoga teacher training, went on a yoga retreat and traveled the world to practice all sorts of styles of yoga with diverse teachers. I spent alone time in quiet contemplation, meditating in nature and—most important—I consistently practiced taking care of me. It was glorious and life-changing!

I went into this personal sabbatical with many questions and yes, I was looking for answers. I found answers, and returned with a key insight: Making ourselves important and setting aside time to design our intentions is not easy—but it is vital.

It is what Elizabeth Gilbert writes about in her book Eat, Pray, Love, “You cannot see your reflection in running water, only still water.” Only a time-out can provide this stillness. Now I can see better who I am and what I want in my life. As a result I continue asking myself better questions.

I am grateful for my ability to give myself permission to take care of me. As Audre Lorde puts it, “I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.”

Why should we invest this time in ourselves?

Because we should want to keep evolving our happiness. Yoga teaches that if you aren’t happier today than you were a year ago, then you are stopping your personal evolution. A little happiness is not enough. We deserve to have the best day of our live today. And we can take this to a new edge tomorrow. From taking a time-out for compassionate self-care, we begin to realize that our happiness remains stunted if we keep repeating old patterns.

Fundamentally this is where Yoga holds our hands and encourages us to be happier than we ever thought we could be. By quieting our minds, we can see the old problems and move beyond them to our best lives ever.

This investment in yourself also enables you to be better at showing compassion towards others.
In my own deepening understanding of myself
I find my capacity to serve others is deepened as well.
The better I am at self-care
the more genuinely nurturing of others I am able to be.
– Mary Anne Radmacher

Today admit you are worthy of your own compassion. Take time to design a dedicated self-care program. Don’t wait to get started, do it for yourself.

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!



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