Tag: selfcare

Is Your Physical Selfcare Short-Circuiting?

You may have the best of intentions when it comes to selfcare. Yet you may find that your methods aren’t improving your quality of life. If your physical selfcare is short-circuiting, I have some questions for you.

Have you ever:

–worn clothing that felt uncomfortable but instead of getting rid of it, continued to wear it?

–chose the stylish instead of sensible shoes and walked until you got blisters?

–were so busy that you forgot to eat?

–just wanted to get to your destination, so didn’t take car breaks on a long journey?

–sat in an uncomfortable position so as not to disturb others?

–got to the end of a long day only to realize you hardly drank any water?

–practiced a yoga pose even though something didn’t feel right?

–sit with your legs crossed so long they go numb?

These may seem like fairly insignificant discomforts, but each of these is a sign that somewhere along the line, you lost touch with your physical body, what I often refer to as your avatar, and failed to selfcare. Maybe it comes down to our conditioning around no pain, no gain. Maybe it is a belief that we have to try harder, do more, go bigger. Maybe we’ve learned all to well to invalidate our own experience. Or maybe it just boils down to a lifelong disconnect between mind and body (ironically the antithesis of yoga which is meant to unify mind and body).

So here’s how these kinds of habits can short-circuit any attempts at selfcare. I’ll use yoga as an example.

Someone might think, “I’ll take a weekly yoga class so that I’m doing some selfcare every week.” But here’s the thing; it isn’t enough to show up in a yoga class once or even three or four times a week. It’s more about how we show up. Are we present and aware or just going through the motions? As a yoga teacher (or yoga student!), I am sometimes astounded to see students (or teachers!) who are quite obviously uncomfortable push through some position or pose. Even when given a cue to check in, often they still don’t realize that they are doing something totally unnatural for their bodies.

For example, not everyone is comfortable sitting in easy pose with the legs crossed. I give options for comfort and yet, it is sometimes like pulling teeth to get a student to take the initiative to grab a blanket to place under the hips or to move against a wall so that they have back support and don’t have to try so hard.

Or I witness a student finally start to unwind in savasana, and so invite more time, but as class is coming to an end, I still have to get others up and ready to close. What inevitably happens more often than not is that the student will spring to attention with the others. Unfortunately, practicing bad habits reinforces them. They become so automatic we don’t even know we’re doing them and therefore can’t question them. We think we’re engaged in selfcare when we’re really, in essence, just pretending.

Mastery of awareness is the road to transformation.

So here’s my challenge for you. Over the next week or two, commit to discover all the ways you covertly deny your body whether in a yoga class or out. Are you: stifling a yawn, holding in a fart, overeating, holding your pee, indulging in an addiction that makes you feel ill, whatever it may be. Take a few notes and every time you catch yourself, no need to judge yourself. Just affirm to yourself, “I am committed to authentic selfcare.”

#selfcaresunday

#selfcaresunday?

There’s a hashtag out there called #selfcaresunday.

#selfcaresunday. It’s a great idea, right? Give overworked, overstressed, overextended people a reminder to take some time out for themselves. It’s definitely a step in the right direction, but in my opinion, it doesn’t go nearly far enough. The problem with our Western way of life, which frankly has infiltrated globally, is the idea that selfcare is something like church that we attend once a week to relieve our sense of guilt over mistreating others, only in the case of selfcare, it assuages the guilt we have over mistreating ourselves: “I’ve worked myself to exhaustion all week. Now I deserve to read my book for an hour,” one justifies only to dive headlong into repeating what wasn’t working in the first place…working one’s self to the point of exhaustion every week.

Selfcare, as in taking care of one’s self, shouldn’t even be a thing, if you ask me.

How about #selfcareeveryday! Selfcare shouldn’t be something we have to be reminded about or have to carve out special time for. It should be as natural as the rising and setting of the sun. It shouldn’t be a once-a-week treat. It should be ongoing, daily activities that one attends to whenever and as often as one can. Selfcare is a devotion to the self, this little God-given avatar with which we live our lives. It’s not meant to be a part-time hobby or something we really have to think about, plan for, and fight for.

Trouble is, for so many people, it is exactly that. It’s a battle. We have to fight our pressing responsibilities. We have to resist the expectations and needs of others. We have to wrestle with time and limited hours in a day. We have to plan ahead instead of just designing our lives for selfcare in the first place.

I’m telling you, selfcare doesn’t have to be so hard.

Nor does it have to be something so disconnected from who you are. Selfcare is first and foremost an attitude, not some switch to turn on when you remember it. Self-care is a vital aspect of overall health and wellness. It involves taking time to nurture yourself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Easy Steps to Selfcare as a Way of Life

  1. One of the simplest but also most effective ways to incorporate self-care into your routine is to start your day, every day, with a few moments of quiet reflection. This may be prayer, a few words in a journal, or a few deep breaths to set an intention for the day ahead.
  2. Another important aspect of self-care is physical activity. Whether it’s a gentle yoga practice or a brisk walk in nature, moving your body is essential for both physical and mental health. Make it a priority to engage in some form of physical activity every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
  3. Daily mental and emotional selfcare can be as simple as practicing mindfulness or meditation or as involved as seeking out the support of a mental health professional or group if needed. It’s about feeding your mind with wisdom and learning to understand yourself and the ways you suffer. Youtube offers a wealth of short to long videos on wellbeing.
  4. Self-care also means setting boundaries and saying no to things that don’t serve you. This can be challenging, especially if you’re used to putting others’ needs before your own. But self-care is not selfish; it’s an act of self-love and compassion that enables you to show up as your best self in all areas of your life.
  5. Finally, don’t forget to indulge in some simple pleasures. Many are under the impression that this alone is selfcare, but it is really just one facet of it, and not nearly as important as the other four. Still, whether it’s a bubble bath, a cup of tea, a good book, or a special chocolate, taking time to enjoy the little things in life can do wonders for your mood and overall well-being.

Prioritize YOU

It’s true that by prioritizing your well-being and making self-care a natural, integrated part of your daily routine, you’ll be better equipped to handle life’s challenges with grace and ease. But that is just a great side-effect to selfcare. Selfcare is something to do for the sake of itself, out of the love that you are. Be kind to you!

Need help prioritizing your selfcare? Why not schedule a session with me? I’m here to help.

 

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Coach, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/divinemetime/
Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/tranquilliving
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@DivineMeTime

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juggernaut

The Self-Improvement Juggernaut

The Self-Improvement Juggernaut

There was a time in my life, as there is in many lives who grow up submersed in the Western cultural values of striving and “being better”, that I was obsessed with self-improvement. I read all the books about “how to be a better this” and “how to be better at that”. I went on retreats and took on practices to make myself happier, more productive, more creative, less neurotic, less angry, more abundant and on and on and on all in an effort to prove myself worthy of existence.

When I reached one self-inflicted goal, I immediately set another and another all in the name of becoming a better person and ensuring that I was living up to my potential. It was not only exhausting, it was expensive. And while I may have had some truly valuable experiences and come away with knowledge that indeed made my life a little better, none of it ever satisfied the unquenchable thirst at the root of what was driving me…a sense of not being good enough.

Out from Under the Self-worth Steamroller

It was grace, or quite frankly what felt like hell at the time, that woke me on this hamster wheel. Who exactly was I trying to improve? Why did she need improvement? And would she ever be good enough? From the perspective of “self-improvement”, of course she wouldn’t! I went through a period of realizing it was all useless. I’d never be that perfect self I had to be to accept myself. Somehow, I had to stop resetting the bar and quit the self-improvement race. And I knew I had better find another way to accept myself, “as is”. Slowly, selfcare began to replace self-improvement.

I wanted to heal this bottomless pit of worthlessness, but not with anything external to myself. I let an identity that I had built up go (or to be more accurate, it was ripped out from under me). I even gave this ‘false self’ a little ceremonial burial. I started to focus more on doing things that made me happy…not things that made me look good to others. I began to learn to self-nurture. Just like a plant cannot possibly be expected to thrive if conditions aren’t right, I had to realize that my ability to live up to any potential was not dependent on constant self-improvement, but rather on how well I took really excellent care of me. It was a start.

From Self-Improvement to Selfcare

It’s been many years since and now my focus is quite a bit different. It turns out that even a material sense of worth wasn’t enough for me. I needed something far more wonderous and powerful. This came as not just selfcare, but capital S Selfcare. I am still just beginning to understand that any growth I may experience is not the result of tireless egoic efforts of striving to control or improve some faulty version of myself, nor even the rather the result of receiving proper light, nutrients, and other environmental factors (of both my inner and outer environments) that this being needs to flourish. More than anything, it is a direct consequence of being connected to the truth of Self, my God-given beingness.

Self-acceptance is an ongoing affair, but I do realize that my personality is itself. I can let it be what it is, with all its silly flaws. I belong to something much greater, a force that brought me into this world and a force that will see me through it and then see me out. I decided to the best of my ability, to trust in that nameless love and in that life that courses through my veins. I just have to take tender care of this vessel in which I reside. Everything else just happens. I can let come what comes and let go what goes. At least, that’s my daily practice.

What’s Driving You?

I’m not saying that self-improvement is wrong. Obviously, if you didn’t graduate from high school and return to get a GED, that’s entirely admirable. If you are overweight and you don’t like how it feels and decide to do something about it, that’s great. If you want to learn to be a better communicator, why not? But with any self-improvement endeavour, the question is what’s driving you? Self-hatred? Feeling not good enough? Winning the validation of others? A bottomless pit in your core?

Are you on a never-ending quest of self-improvement? Is it working? Do you love yourself more? Are you kinder towards yourself and others? Or are you always resetting the bar…never quite reaching some idealised version of yourself? When will enough be enough? Maybe it’s time to find a new motivation for doing what you do and let the Light that you are take care of it all.

 

Is Icecream Selfcare?

What Makes Selfcare Selfcare?

What Makes Selfcare Selfcare?

Is Icecream Selfcare?Selfcare is a buzzword and often a marketing ploy to get you to buy some product or service (even mine!). But selfcare isn’t something that comes from outside of you by its very definition. Selfcare, real selfcare, is an inside job.

So it’s not about what you might buy, or where you might travel, or what activity you might engage in. All of that might be part of it, but it actually isn’t the important part!

For example, you might be feel that selfcare is an indulgence in your favorite gourmet ice cream from time to time. Maybe it is and maybe it isn’t. It really depends on you. When you reach for the ice cream, it it an act of self-love and kindness or is it an act of escapism and apathy? Just like yoga can either be nurturing selfcare that’s gentle on the joints and tissues, or it can be a practice in pushing your limits and pulling your ligaments. Again, it depends on you. Anything that we may approach or do in the name of selfcare doesn’t make it selfcare. So what does?

Selfcare is About Two Things

Selfcare is really about one) our attitude and two) our approach.

In regards to attitude, it’s about coming from a position of caring about yourself, valuing yourself, as much as you care about anyone or anything else. It’s an awareness and acceptance of both our strengths and shortcomings with a maturity that helps us own up to both. And more importantly, it is a commitment to our own personal evolution…not the ever-moving benchmark to “become a better person”, but to organically grow like a flower or a tree does. We change. We grow up. We leave childish notions and toxic behaviors behind when we’re ready.

In regards to approach, it’s about whether or not we are mindful of what it is we’re doing while we’re doing it. Mindfulness is a tricky thing. Just like selfcare, it is a popular buzzword that means different things to different people. And worse, it sounds exactly like what it is not…a mind full. Careful attention might be a better name for it. But it’s not really about focus or concentration per se. It’s more about being free of narrative as you do something, so that you can fully and completely experience it as it is. When you eat that gourmet ice cream, is it always like the first time? Are you thinking about other things or fully immersed in the indescribable experience?

Selfcare isn’t something one masters either. It is itself an evolutionary process that must meet us where we are as we grow. So yeah, indulge in the ice cream if it makes you feel better now. But remember that maybe, just maybe, there are even better choices out there for you. Maybe selfcare is about discovering them for yourself.

 

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing Yoga, Mirror Meditation, E-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/divinemetime/
❤ Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/tranquilliving
❤ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@DivineMeTime

Stressed? Try This Vocal Toning Selfcare Practice

Are you all feeling the amping of energies lately and just as stressed out as I am? Astrologically, we are in very interesting times. Time itself seems to be speeding up, information (and misinformation) is a constant onslaught, and change is not only imminent but mandatory. We’re all being asked to up our game. If we don’t take time out to empty and find our way back to neutral, we’re going to have a harder and harder time keeping up.

Vocal toning is such a great selfcare practice to clear your mind, body, and spirit of all the brouhaha. Even if you practice the following technique just minutes a day, you’ll feel the impact.

This particular exercise is adapted from one I learned from my mentor, Dr. Gene Nathan. It consists of three sounds and three centers:

 

SOUND                               CENTER
Ah                                            heart
Om                                          dan tien (or lower belly)
Shh                                          forehead

Begin by placing your hands on your heart. Tone the sound ‘Ah’ aloud on any comfortable pitch. Do this three times. Then move your hands to your dan tien. Here you will tone the sound ‘Om” with an emphasis on the ‘mmm’. Do this at a lower pitch than the ‘ah’. Finally, place your hands on your forehead. Here, you sound a ‘Shh’. Repeat this cycle, three times at each center, for at least three cycles.

After each tone, notice how your energy is shifting. Take your time. Notice especially the connection that occurs between each center, each helping to reinforce and strengthen the others. And notice how the ‘shh’ quiets the rattled mind. Enjoy!

 

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/divinemetime/
❤ Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/tranquilliving
❤ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@DivineMeTime

Vocal Play: Spring Cleaning!

pinwheelEvery Spring, many minds turn to the practice of spring cleaning, clearing out the closets, dusting in all the nooks and crannies of a home, and making things sparkle!

Why not do the same inside? Our bodies and minds could use a good cleansing after this rather challenging winter, don’t you think?

Winter is typically a time of reflection and hibernation. We’ve taken inventory and hopefully come to a clearer understanding of what is worth keeping and what has to go. Now, tiny buds emerge and new colors pop into our awareness as we prepare for the re-emerging of dormant life.

Vocal play is a perfect selfcare tool for clearing out and making space for what wants to emerge from within you. So set aside 10, 15, or even 30 minutes, go outside into the sun, and have some toning fun. Choose a vowel with a vibration that resonates for you with the sweeping out of dust and debris of the winter. Maybe for one person that is “SHHH” sound. Maybe for another, it’s an “EH”. Give the byproducts of your toning to the earth for recycling; she knows what to do with it.

When that process feels complete, tone for the joy of Spring! You can tone to a tree you encounter on a walk, tone to the little bulb sprouts popping their heads into the day, or simply breath in this fresh promise of spring and exhale an “AH!”

Enjoy!

 

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/divinemetime/
❤ Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/tranquilliving
❤ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@DivineMeTime

Voice Play: Treat for the Inner Child

pinwheelFor a child, being free with the voice is a natural thing. We animate our dolls and trucks. We laugh and make sounds freely. As we get older, it is no longer okay to make strange, silly sounds. We have to be serious. When things do escape our lips, others look at us like we have two heads (unless we have the privilege of playing with children and hiding behind such an excuse). But play is a means to freeing our voice and our creativity. It shouldn’t stop altogether or change just because we reach a certain age.

Here is an fun exercise in voice play I’ve often used in Toning groups and a great party game for children of all ages. It’s also a practice in selfcare to help free us of our inhibitions and fixations.

Think of a phrase and say it with the group. For example, “I love chicken feathers in my soup.” The sillier the better!

  • Repeat the phrase aloud normally.
  • Now say it in different ways. Try whispering it like it is a very big secret you don’t want others to hear…or maybe a secret you really do want others to hear. Notice any difference?
  • Now yell it at the top of your lungs. What does that feel like?
  • Say it in a very deep voice. Come on ladies; you can do it!
  • Say it in a very high voice. Gentlemen, it’s only a game!
  • Say it as fast as you can. Oh, come on! Faster!
  • Say it both high and fast, like you’ve just inhaled helium.
  • Now say it high and very slow, like you’re slowly emptying of helium. What are you feeling?
  • Say it low and fast, like a tribal cartoon character.
  • Now say it low and very slow, like a broken tape-recorder. Having fun?

If you tried this alone, good for you! Your inner child is now glowing. If you tried this with friends, even better for you! Nothing like laughing your head off with people you love!

 

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/divinemetime/
❤ Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/tranquilliving
❤ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@DivineMeTime

AH OM HUM for Sleep

pinwheelReady to settle down for the night and want a toning exercise that will quiet the mind and help prepare you for sleep that’s restful? Give AH-OM-HUM a try.

It is very similar to AUM or OM, but there is a subtle yet powerful difference.  These three syllables are a purification practice, perfect for sleep, releasing the day and all its constructs and entering the dreamtime.

Rather than toning AH-U-MM or OH-M, you are toning the three sounds, AH, OM and HUM (pronounced HOOM) in sequence all on one breathe to the end of a single exhalation. On the inhalation, rest and reverberate the sound in your mind. Then begin again with sounding on the exhalation.

Some of you may be familiar with the Buddhist mantra OM AH HUM.  The sounds serve the same function. They just do so in a different order. I learned AH-OM-HUM in my trainings in Yungdrung Bon. You can experiment for yourself and find the sequence that works for you. Each way you do it will stimulate different aspects first.

Sweet dreams!

 

About the Author:

Beth Ciesco is your Selfcare Specialist, a certified yoga teacher and meditation facilitator. Check out the rest of the website to learn more about Restorative Healing YogaMirror MeditationE-Motion Alchemy, and Voicework as capital S Selfcare tools. You can also follow her on these sites:

❤ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/divinemetime/
❤ Insight Timer: https://insighttimer.com/tranquilliving
❤ Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/@DivineMeTime

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