Post ID 742

Posted by on April 17, 2020

“Listen to your needs and desires. Meet them with tenderness and grace.”

Are your self-care practices ‘top heavy’? 

Mine have been, up until recently. I used to notice I was feeling off, then thought about what I could do for a break. Or I’d have a stretch of time to myself and wonder how I would fill it with some kind of self-care-ish type of activity. In either case, I was guided by my thoughts about what to do. I was practicing ‘heads up’ or ‘top heavy’ self-care. 

Now I know that for self-care to truly work for me and be worth my time and effort, it needs to be ‘inside-out’ or ‘self-sourced’ or ‘heart-centred’. In other words, I need to take into account the needs of my whole Self. 

I notice what’s going on for me, name the unique needs at the root of my experience and respond in ways that best nurture those needs.

Heart-Centred Self-Care

Step 1 – Notice

The first step is to pause and take note of what you are experiencing. 

What’s the ‘outer’ experience that you are sensing with your 5 senses or envisioning in your mind?

Ex. I see the sun is setting and that I didn’t get all of today’s work done yet . . .  I hear the boisterous family being loud and silly . . . 

Also, what’s the ‘inner’ experience that you are feeling

Ex. I am feeling negative or unhelpful feelings, like guilt, sadness, worry, anger, etc. I am feeling positive or helpful feelings, like courage, acceptance, love, joy, peace etc.

Step 2 – Needs

Here’s the step that most of us miss – but that’s the most important. 

Considering what you are sensing and feeling, what do you really need?

You can take your best guess, or I recommend looking at Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs or the Centre for Non-Violent Communications Needs Inventory to accurately name the one or two needs that are causing your feelings.

Ex. I need financial security which is why I’m worrying about not finishing my work yet.  I need space which is why I’m feeling irritable about the family’s noise. 

Step 3 – Nurture

Now it’s time to do something with what you’ve learned – the self-care part. The aim is to figure out ways to nurture the need that you’ve identified. In attempting to meet that need, you will relieve your feelings and truly nurture yourself. Be sure to consider both ‘the doing’ (behaviours, actions) and ‘the being’ (presence, allowing, listening, resting) in your response. 

What can I ‘do’ to nurture my need(s)?

Ex. I will finish my priority task tonight, spend an extra hour tomorrow to catch up, and my finances will not be affected. I will go out for a walk so that I can have some space, and my family can keep having fun.

How can I ‘be’ to nurture my need(s)?

Ex. I will listen to my unhelpful thoughts about money and work through the process of shifting my mindset. I will allow and release my feelings of frustration around being physically isolated.

Making a regular practice of Noticing, Naming and Nurturing your needs will ensure your heart-centred self-care truly works for you. Simply moving through these steps before you get out of bed in the morning or anytime during your day will make all the difference to showing yourself the care and compassion that your heart, body, mind and spirit deserve!

Posted in: Heart, Renewal

Post ID 736

Posted by on April 9, 2020

Dear Self-Care,

Hello old friend, how are you?

I’m writing this thank you note to let you know how much I appreciate you. Over the years, you have always been there for me, whether or not I made the time and effort to connect with you. And I always leave our visits better off than when I came – especially those times when I thought I didn’t want to connect with you.

You have made such a positive impact on my life, my business and my overall well-being that I decided to let you know these 21 incredible benefits of Self-Care. . . 

  1. You give me the space to be me – to know, appreciate, share and honour myself.
  2. My home is a secure and loving place because you’ve helped me know what that looks like for me.
  3. I’m clearer on my business priorities so I can simplify the work I do.
  4. You help me express and release my emotions so they don’t build up into bigger problems.
  5. I’m a better mom to my kids, able to be more present, lively and loving with them.
  6. You inspired the start of my business, as I want more people to benefit from knowing and accessing your value.
  7. I’m physically healthier, with more energy and vitality and less risk of illness and disease.
  8. I have stronger connections with friends, both giving to and receiving from supportive and wonderful people.
  9. You boost my creativity so I can offer my very best at work. 
  10. I’m better able to put my mind at ease and stop the mental chatter, to instead focus on what’s helpful and true. 
  11. I follow my ‘feel good’ with your support, trying new hobbies and learning new skills.
  12. You help me prioritize which are the most important tasks to focus on. 
  13. You give me full permission to rest and do nothing, especially when that’s what I need most. 
  14. You make it more fun to manage my finances, ultimately inviting more abundance. 
  15. You do the same for my business finances, ensuring I make the best financial decisions for my company. 
  16. When we’re together, I feel more spiritually connected to ‘something greater’ and to nature, and that I don’t have to have all the answers.
  17. You turn boring chores into mindful time or opportunities for play.
  18. I’m in an empowered place to make a real impact with my work thanks to you.
  19. You teach me how real balance is between ‘being’ me and ‘doing’ for myself and others.
  20. I’m a better partner with my husband, able to bring the best of myself to our relationship. 
  21. I’m modeling for my clients – and everyone around me – the type of loving relationship with self that is possible and essential to a life well lived. 

Wow, it was even easier than I thought to honour you.

I want you to know how much I really do appreciate you and that I will continue to do my best to show up for you – imperfectly, consistently, trustingly. Together we are better.

See you soon!

     Nicole

Post ID 730

Posted by on April 3, 2020

“Solitude is rather like a folded-up forest I carry with me everywhere and unfurl around myself when I have need.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I’m sure I don’t need to explain why retreats are so wonderful to ‘get away from it all’ and ‘fill yourself up’. What I am excited to share is something that I’ve only just realized, and that’s really boosted my ‘me time’. 

Maybe you’re like I was, and the word ‘retreat’ brings to mind a ‘spa day’ or a ‘women’s getaway’. Now I know that you can also retreat right in the middle of your everyday life and the results will do wonders for your heart, mind, body and soul.

I started reading Jennifer Louden’s classic work “The Woman’s Retreat Book” because I was planning a ski getaway with my husband. Little did I know that my favourite takeaway would be her basic outline of a retreat that has since allowed me to have mini-retreats anywhere at any time. 

Here’s my interpretation of her outline, along with 4 retreat ideas, that will have you retreating in the heart of the hustle in as few as two minutes. You’re welcome!

4 Steps to Retreat

What I didn’t know then that I know now: the success of a retreat is not about the location you’re in, the time you have nor the people you’re with – it’s about what you do and how you do it. 

1) Prepare to Retreat – 

Think about your basic plan, such as where and when you’ll go and if you’ll need any supplies. Remember it’s not about the amount of time away or the physical proximity to your regular life, but instead about how well you can create a temporary boundary from them.

You’ll also want to set an intention for your retreat reflecting what you need right now in this moment. This will give form to your retreat while also allowing the unknowable that will unfold. This starts the process of slowing down and turning inward. For best results, pose your retreat intention as a question that feels open ended, expansive and encouraging. “On this retreat, I intend to ask myself this question . . .?”

2) Withdraw from Ordinary Life –

Begin your retreat in a safe space where you feel sustained and comforted physically and emotionally. This could be your bedroom, your bathtub, the garden, on a walk or a sacred place in your imagination.

Perform an opening ceremony or symbolic action that signals to your psyche that you’re entering a sacred time (even if you’re not physically going anywhere special). Try one or more of tehse many options: restate your intention, read an opening poem or psalm, cross a threshold, put on special clothing or an accessory, light a candle, dance to a song or apply essential oils. 

3) Listen to Yourself – 

This is the body of the retreat where the ‘work’ is done. Choose activities that will help you answer your stated intention and listen to your inner knowing. There are endless options here: rest, move, sing, read, journal, reflect, paint, cook, daydream, build, breathe, play or sleep. Anything goes, as long as the result is that you’re coming back to your centre and working toward a truer and more authentic relationship with yourself. 

4) Return to Ordinary Life –

Wrap up your retreat by reflecting on your experience, including what you’ve done, how you’ve been, what answers you’ve discovered and how you might bring any of this into your everyday life. 

End with a closing ceremony or symbolic action, like the reverse of your opening ceremony, to consciously step back into life. You could try to: offer thanks, move energetically, journal on your experience, read a poem or psalm, pack up your space, take home a momento or mental snapshot. It could be as simple as stating “I am returning from my retreat. My intention was . . . and I discovered . . . I appreciate myself for taking this time to listen and learn.”

4 Quick Retreats to Try 

Here are just a few ideas about how you could easily create a retreat in your day, in under 30 minutes. For the greatest results, please adapt these ideas to specifically address your own intentions and interests. 

1) The ‘Step Away Retreat’ in 2 minutes 

  • Ask yourself “How can I allow myself to relax and be?”
  • Close the door or close your eyes and imagine yourself in a favourite place.
  • Ideas: deep breathing, do nothing, apply body lotion or essential oils, try legs-up-the-wall pose, stretch, do a body scan or notice your 5 senses.
  • Say “All is well in this present moment. Thank you for taking this time for yourself.”

2) The ‘Take a Break Retreat’ in 10 minutes

  • Ask yourself “What do I love and how can I celebrate that?”
  • Light a candle, put on a favourite accessory or read a favourite poem.
  • Ideas: Mindfully drink a cup of tea, shower or bathe, journal, rest on your bed, practice an instrument, meditate or have a dance break.
  • Reverse your opening practice and write down how you love and celebrate, so you can remember to do more of that in the future.

3) The ‘Nature Retreat’ in 20 minutes

  • Ask yourself “How am I feeling about . . . (a demanding situation)?”
  • Get dressed and step out the door.
  • Ideas: Walk, sit in the sun, forest bathe, work in the garden or play in the park.
  • Before stepping back inside, notice if any new insights or feelings have arisen.

4) The ‘Lunch Break’ Retreat in 30 minutes

  • Ask yourself “What do I need to do to refuel myself now?”
  • Leave your workplace, or wherever you were previously spending your time, and go somewhere safe and soothing. Make a ritual of some small special gesture on your way, like listening to music or making a special beverage. 
  • Ideas: Mindfully eat lunch, go outside, read, socialize (if this is refueling to you), stretch, move, breathe or create (draw, knit, write – whatever thrills you).
  • Before returning, notice how you are and say “I’m ready for the rest of my day!”

However you choose to retreat, I hope these ideas bring you one step closer to feeling the best that you can and hearing the wisdom and wonder of your own self. 

P.S. For more insights like this sent directly to your inbox, subscribe to my email community HERE.

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