Self-care can be a lot of things: yoga, bubble baths, chocolate cake, a healthy meal, a good night’s sleep or being active are just a few things. But there’s one thing that I believe should be the foundation of self-care for everyone: meditation.
To some, meditation seems like an indulgence. Even if it’s not an indulgence, many think it’s something that they can take or leave as they feel like it. But meditation can be the key to giving yourself what you really need in order to feel happy, healthy and whole in all aspects of your life.
Self-care shouldn’t be random
There are many days when, once I get started, I don’t stop until everything’s done. I have a list of things to get done and I just keep checking things off. I’m sure that’s true for you too.
The problem with this is that we often end up exhausted, frustrated, and maybe even confused or conflicted. We’re trying to do everything and be everything, and the truth is, we just can’t.
We need a break. We need to take care of ourselves. And meditation is the first step to that.
Have you ever had a craving for chocolate or ice cream or chips and instead of eating that, you ate some baby carrots or celery or a salad instead? You filled up your belly, but it didn’t really satisfy the craving, did it? So you might have felt physically full but there was still something that was left… craving.
Self-care can work the same way. If you really need one particular kind of self-care, but give yourself another, it might work but something is still going to be unsatisfied. You won’t feel as fulfilled as you could.
Meditation allows you the opportunity to find out what it is you really need. It slows your brain down, detaches you from your thoughts and allows things to surface that you weren’t aware of. And this is how you can realize that you’re reaching for sugary treats not because you’re hungry, but because you’re tired and trying to find some quick energy — and this informs you that you need self-care in the form of more or better sleep.
Or it might show you that the reason you’re not able to make a project come together is that there are pieces missing or your heart just isn’t in it anymore. Maybe it helps you see that the reason your body seems to constantly ache is because you’ve been powering through on fast food but you’re really craving some fresh fruits and veggies to feel lighter and healthier.
And sometimes it’ll show you that you just need some ice cream, a bubble bath or to get your nails done.
But the answers all come in the stillness of meditation.
Stillness leads to solutions
When you’re buzzing from one thing to the next like a busy little bee going from flower to flower, you unintentionally shut down the inner voice that lets you know what you need. You ignore it because you’re so busy thinking of the next thing to do and the next thing after that.
Meditation brings all that to a halt. Your body becomes still. Your mind can cool down and relax. You can mentally unclench the fists that are trying to control everything.
And in that quiet calm, your body, mind and soul will all get the chance to breathe. They’ll have the chance to tell you what they need in order to feel quenched. They’ll tell you what would nourish them the most right now.
And just like that melty cocoa goodness on your tongue truly satisfies a chocolate craving, you’ll be able to give yourself the self-care that will truly make you feel good. It will relax, refresh, or energize you — whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve, you will.
Because you’re giving your body, mind, or soul exactly what it really needs — exactly what it’s asking for.
Use meditation as preventive care
Just like you’d rather go to the doctor and make sure nothing’s wrong when you’re feeling fine instead of going when you’re so ill you can barely function, you should use meditation before you reach your breaking point.
While you could wait until you’re stressed, panicked or angry to meditate and figure out why and what you need, it won’t be as effective. You won’t be as in touch with yourself.
On the other hand, if you create and stick with a consistent daily meditation practice, you’ll find that you become very in tune with yourself and what you need. And just as bloodwork at the doctor can help you see a problem as it’s just beginning, so meditation can help you see where and how you need self-care before things are overwhelming you.
Make meditation a daily practice. Make it the bedrock of your self-care. By doing so, you’ll ensure that your self-care truly nourishes you.