Self-Care for the Empath on the March

stillness

Self-Care is necessary for body, mind, and spirit.

Who Has Time for Self-Care?

I’ve always been a “To-Do-List” maker.  In the past, I made grocery lists, work-related lists, lists of errands I had to run on Saturday, and even a list of things I’d like to do if I wasn’t so busy making lists!  Do you know anyone like this?

Lately, my list also includes things like march on Washington, call my legislators, write to them when they stop taking phone calls, and put my money where my mouth is by getting rid of credit cards that are affiliated with companies that support things that I don’t.  I never dreamed I’d need a list like this.  I don’t want a list like this!  Who would?!

march-3

I never imagined this being on my To-Do list but it is!

In addition to being a list-maker, I’m an empath and maybe you are, too.  Empaths are highly sensitive people who feel deeply and try to do as much as they can.  They…we… act from a place of compassion and love but can easily get overwhelmed.  It leaves me feeling like this…

Freyjas Soulful Eyes

I have nothing left to give.

 

 So what can I do for body, mind, and spirit?

For me, it begins with a brand new To-Do list, identifying ways to balance what I need with what I need to do.  What are all the ways I can nourish and nurture myself so I don’t get depleted?

  • Body:  Getting sick or exhausted doesn’t do anybody any good… least of all ourselves.  To take care of our physical bodies, I suggest things such as a deep tissue massage, exercise a few times a week, eating healthy foods and also allowing the occasional treat, yoga, and my personal favorite- simply being in nature.  Nothing compares to a few minutes in my backyard where I can listen to the birds and watch the sun set while I swing in a hammock with my fuzzy kids.
  • Mind: This includes things that release my mind from my lists and the oh-so-real sorrows of the world.  I read for the sheer joy of it (mysteries and historical fiction right now).  I also do my best to focus on positive words of encouragement and affirmations like those Jessica Swift sends out as part of her 100 Uplifting Messages 100 Days in a Row.  Part of nurturing a healthy mind is knowing my limits, saying “No” when I need to, and disconnecting from social media when it gets to be too much.  Did I, a blogger, just write that?!  Yes.  Unplug and be present.
  • Spirit:  A balanced program of self-care has to include the spirit.  It can take many forms including meditation, prayer, connecting with a like-minded spiritual community, embracing solitude, Reiki, creative expression, and cuddling your 2-legged and 4-legged loved ones (a bit more difficult if you have a parakeet or fish).

One of the first things I notice about that 3-prong guide to self-care is that it is all connected.  What nourishes the body can also soothe the spirit and quiet the mind.  This reminds me of my post titled Boundaries & Priorities from May 2014.  Following these suggestions and reflecting on those I wrote about 3 years ago take me from “I have nothing left to give” to this….

peaceful-girl

Shhh… self-care in progress.

In the March/April 2017 issue of Spirituality & Health magazine, Dr. Judith Orloff’s  article “The Empowered Empath” shares some of her tips for refilling our well so we have more to give others.  I am particularly moved by her Empath Affirmation.

“I will treasure myself and vow to have people in my life who treasure me.

I will use my sensitivities to better my own life and the world.

I will celebrate the adventure of being an empath.”

What do you do for self-care?

I’d love to hear what works for you.

 

 

 

A Meditation Buffet

My early perception of meditation was that I had to sit still, be quiet, & clear the mind of all thoughts.  I tried.  I tried often over the years but each time, I got discouraged, believing that “I wasn’t doing it right.”  I’ve since redefined meditation for myself.  Meditation is about listening, taking the time to focus on my own well-being & need for a bit more tranquility in my life.  It doesn’t necessarily require sitting in silence on a cushion, although that method works well for many people.  Instead, it might be a method that incorporates chanting or walking as a way to focus the attention.

I recently offered an evening session called “The Meditation Buffet” for curious women open to exploring different meditative techniques.  Just like some of us recharge our mental/emotional batteries by being alone while others get energy from being in a group, we have different spiritual needs as well.  Some people need singing, dancing, & movement while others need contemplative, serene spiritual experiences.  It’s not surprising that we are different in the way we meditate, too.

The Meditation Buffet came out of conversations with friends & a few co-workers.  Most either had no meditative practice or if they did, it was infrequent.  Why?  Three statements frequently come up…

“I don’t have enough time.”

“I can’t sit still for that long.”

“I can’t clear my mind of thoughts.”

 I designed The Meditation Buffet to address those three concerns & offer possible solutions to busy women who may not have the time to explore these techniques in-depth.  (Like a quick taste of an unfamiliar food on a buffet table, a 15-minute introduction to a meditative technique is sufficient to determine whether or not it suits your personality & lifestyle.  Let’s face it, you know when something’s right & when it’s not if you let your intuition guide you.)

“I don’t have enough  time.” With full-time jobs, kids, errands, & other obligations, the time to care for our whole self- physical, mental, spiritual, & emotional- slips to the bottom of the list of priorities.  Everyone & everything else comes first.  Eventually, this catches up with us in the forms of anxiety, sleeplessness, & illness.  We can’t continue to give when we have nothing left to give.  Meditation gives us an opportunity to center ourselves & find peace among the chaos.  When I was a girl, I had a friend who came from a large family.  The only time she could study quietly was in the bathroom.  She’d lock the door then climb into the dry bathtub, shutting out the world with a shower curtain.  You might be laughing but for some people, that’s a possible solution for a bit of privacy.  So, before you say you don’t have time to meditate, get creative.  Think outside the box.  Maybe you need to think inside the bathtub!  This is the hardest excuse to overcome because it means making a commitment to yourself.  It means saying “I’m worth it” and following through regularly.

“I can’t sit still for that long.”  In the workshop, we tried a couple of techniques described in John Hudson’s book Meditation: Simple Steps to Peace, Well-Being, & Contentment  and a few that I learned from other sources, including a beautifully serene walking meditation I first practiced at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York.  A participant in the group introduced the rest of us to Birds’ Nest Meditation, which required us to sit in nature, as if in a nest, & heighten our awareness of the world around us.  I found this grounded me & brought a sense of peace from being fully present in the moment.  I recommend Hudson’s book for it has “everyday techniques accessible to everyone” on topics such as postures, mantras, & visualizations.  It’s definitely worth reading if you are new to meditation or still searching for a method that works for you.

“I can’t clear my mind.”  That’s perfectly natural.  I’m not aware of anyone on the planet who is able to free their mind of every thought every time they meditate.  Sometimes, the best we can do is respectfully recognize that we have a lot on our minds & with loving kindness toward ourselves, let each thought drift away like a colorful sailboat on the river of our consciousness.  Acknowledge the thoughts & let them flow.  Do this over & over if you have to, breathing deeply each time you notice another thought trying to distract you from the process.  Do the best you can with this & let that be good enough.  You will improve with practice.

I’m far from perfect when it comes to meditating regularly.  I, too, use excuses when it “doesn’t suit me”; however, I fully admit that I feel out of alignment with my higher self when I neglect my need for solitude & peace.  I’m writing from a place of knowing.

Reiki- Balance, Harmony, & Healing

Everything is made of energy… finally, something spiritual people & scientists can agree on!!  You, me, the maple tree in my backyard, rivers, animals,… all energy & all connected.  The potential for balance, harmony, & healing is immense.  That’s what I love about Reiki.  It’s universal life-force energy, flowing through everything & everyone.

As my Reiki practice grows, I find that it helps my clients physically, mentally, emotionally, and/or spiritually because the energy flows where it’s needed most.  I don’t use the term “healer” to describe myself because I’m a hollow reed, a vessel, for the energy that flows to the person or animal I’m helping.  It’s not my energy that heals; it’s the energy available to all of us with proper training & heightened awareness.  It’s very exciting that the Western medical profession, from doctors to insurance companies, is publicly acknowledging the benefits of energy work.

Every session is unique, allowing me to use a variety of sources, including Usui Reiki, to help my clients.  The work I do falls into three general categories– hands-on, animal Reiki, & distant healing.

Hands-on work means an adult or child comes to me in person for reasons including but not limited to– past trauma, illness or recent surgery, stress or anxiety, and self-awareness to identify a drop in energy or a feeling of disconnectedness.

Animal Reiki is performed for pets who’ve experienced neglect or abuse, anxiety, illness, & even aging issues.  The flow of positive energy & love to the animal can relieve negativity, increase a sense of well-being, & lessen pain & suffering.

Distant healing benefits the client just as hands-on work can do & helps those who cannot see me in person for whatever reason.  The only difference is that it requires more of a time commitment from both me & my client to communicate via phone before & after the service is provided.  The results can be just as powerful.

I’ll explain more in future blogs but wanted to send out this general information because so many people ask, “What it is energy work?” and “How can it help me?”  Websites & books have more background information so my blog posts will focus on my personal experience & what kinds of results I’m seeing in my practice.