Letting go of ‘Self-Care’
The importance of ‘Self-Care’ seems to be popping up everywhere lately. Proponents offer Mothers advice to make time to meditate, spend time alone in nature, walk, journal, exercise, practice yoga or deep breathing, dance, paint or craft. And this is all wonderful.
The ultimate purpose of daily self-care, I believe, is to connect your True Self with the Divine*. It is only there that you will find an eternal source of love, strength and energy to draw from.
On the best of days my own personal ‘self-care’ routine includes a morning meditation and prayer, some form of artistic expression and a hot epsom salt bath at the end of the day.
But here is the truth: I have four young children that we are homeschooling full-time, a growing business and a brand new homestead to run. My days are full and more often than not my self-care routine just doesn’t make the cut. And I don’t want ‘self-care’ to become another thing I feel guilty I didn’t accomplish today.
As I wiped the floor on hands and knees after dinner the other night, a calming reminder came to me: “This, more than any other daily act, is my meditation practice”. And I wasn’t just referring to the floors- the neverending loads of laundry, the constant dishes, the beds, the meals… Every household duty, big and small performed with mindfulness is a living and breathing meditation for me. Because instead of focusing on what needs to get done and anticipating the next thing to check off the to do list, when I remain present, I can feel into the bigger picture, and in turn I develop a larger sense of wonder and gratitude.
In The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh states,
If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In
factwe are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Chores can be performed as reverent gestures of faith, prayer and gratitude:
I am grateful for the roof over my head and the floor at my feet and for this sacred home I have always dreamed of. I am grateful for the bountiful meal that just filled and nourished my children’s bellies and the soap and water to clean up afterwards. I am grateful for the courage and resources I have in order to make the choice to stay at home with my young children and feed them each day. I am grateful for the strength and time I have to cook each meal from scratch, carefully choosing each ingredient. I am grateful for the bed that will so kindly welcome my tired body tonight.
If [a child] sees that everyone who stands in some kind of relationship to him […] shows gratitude for what he receives from this world; […] then a great deal is done towards establishing in him the right moral human attitude.
In every moment at home with young children I am mindful that there is so much to be grateful for.
I’m letting go of ‘Self-Care’ because this joyful, busy mess is my daily meditation practice. Not yoga or long walks on the beach or listening to guided relaxations, but changing diapers, packing lunches and wiping the floor.
My home is my temple.
My work is my worship.
At this stage in my mothering journey, I nourish my spirit and soul with mindful presence and gratitude.
And it is more than enough.
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*You can replace ‘Divine’ with whatever word you choose, Higher Power, God, Mother Earth, The Universe etc.