Creating the time for self care is the biggest gift you can give yourself. When we talk about 'self care' this often brings up images of massages, pedicures, retreats, etc. These, whilst awesome and amazing, are genuinely unattainable on a regular basis for many of us, either due to finances or the demands of a busy life.
What if there was something that was free, somewhere you could go where you didn't have to travel, didn't have to arrange childcare for, something that was available at every point in your day, something that you would always be able to use and have by your side to turn to in times of need?
Of course, it is (re)turning to your BREATH and coming home to YOU.
The interesting thing about breath, is that it is both a voluntary and an involuntary action. Even when you're not thinking about breathing, it goes on, just the same. You can bring awareness to your breathing, or it can be done for you without your awareness.
What we do - and what happens to us, is simply based on our own choice
Your breath shows you this.
Without making too much effort, we can breathe more deeply. If you consciously start to deepen your breath, it naturally gets slower and from here will become more powerful. When we breathe in slowly, and breathe out fully our Parasympathetic Nervous System is activated which stimulates our feel good hormones to be produced.
When these feel good hormones start to flow, they actually prohibit the release of stress hormones. With a regular practice, our internal systems (cardiovascular, digestive, immune, lymphatic, reproductive, endocrine) function more efficiently. Deep breathing reduces stress levels and helps us sleep.
Just being content to watch your breath, listen to your own thoughts, being aware of sensations and sounds - brings you into a state of meditation. Weaving this into your busy life is easy. It starts with a choice. To slow down and take time. Learning how to take deep breaths is a simple act of self care that can bring positive change on a physical and emotional level. Taking care of yourself first and treating yourself with love and compassion means your mothering can then come from this place full of love and compassion.
The beauty of it is that nobody needs to know that you're doing it. Your breath is the Biggest Gift of Self Care and is something that you will always have with you and it is always there to help you. Making the choice to bring this awareness will improve your wellbeing, health and happiness, which in turn affects the way you feel about yourself and will have a positive effect on your relationships with everyone in your life.
Try this exercise (not suitable for pregnancy):
Take a deep breath in and hold it. As you resist the natural impulse to exhale, notice the discomfort that is building in your body. When it becomes too uncomfortable, release the breath and feel that immediate relief.
Holding on to anything for too long creates stress and discomfort.
Now take another breath and fully exhale, emptying your lungs completely, and hold your breath at the end of the exhalation and notice how quickly you become uncomfortable. As you resist the natural urge to inhale, you are blocking the flow of energy that comes from nature.
Be aware of your breath. You are the master.
Breath teaches us so much. It is the gift of giving and receiving and reminds us that to have peace, we must be able to flow with the rhythm of life.
Come home to yourself, then approach motherhood like your breath practice, with gentleness, patience and persistence, applying all that you learn and practice into every corner of life.
We will never grow out of the need to be nurtured and cared for.
Take the time. Make the time.
I'm a Yoga and Meditation Teacher, Birth Doula and HypnoBirthing Steering Committee Member based on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Passionate about teaching and Inspired by Life.