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Self-care As A Spiritual Practice

Renewal is natural. Like the rise and fall of the seasons. Like the tide that rides high and then low. Renewal of the spirit is a necessity.

It’s written that even the Blessed Radiance that some call God rested on the 7th day after creating our world. If someone as omnipotent and powerful as God needed to rest, why aren’t you?

I consider self-care as a spiritual practice. An exercise of my faith that puts body and spirit at such a priority that it must be honored – with Rest. Surely we know what it’s like to “run on empty”. How can connect with our sacred purpose achieve when we’re running on borrowed energy? Not only are we doing ourselves a disservice, we are short-changing the world.

Everyone loses when we’re too tired to contribute to the rest of society. Too tired to share our Sacred Gifts; your Purpose. Running on empty is frustrating. Painful. Self-defeating. Existing in that type of negative space is not an enjoyable place to be – yet many of us are there more often than not. This happens as each day goes by in which we make small, seemingly insignificant choices – like drops into a bucket – to put ourselves last. Before we know it, the bucket is full and tips over. Spilling over – soaking and ruining everything we hold precious. We snap at our loved ones. We feel sorry for ourselves.

Stop. Take time to rest. To renew. For example, many of the most prolific scientist and minds have sworn by the “4 hour work day” and took daily naps.

Alex Soojung-Kim PangPang, author of  Rest: Why you Get More Done When You Work Less and researcher at the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley think tank says “Everyone learns about rest the hard way. We all seem to discover what life is like without it before we can appreciate life with rest.”

I have learned that the most important step is to organize my day so that I’ve built in time for resting. I start the day early. Do my best to focus on the most intensive work first. This way, I feel like more deserving of rest when the time comes. Most people are able to work at a high level for about 90 minutes to two hours and, in fact, for a total of about 4 or 5 hours a day.

I work intensely for 1-2 hours at a time, twice a day. Rest matters just as much as work. We should plan work and rest and take them both seriously. If we’re genuinely serious about our work, we’ll be serious about our rest. Work hard, play hard instead of “work longer and play when there’s time”. Money can come and go, but time is truly finite.

In many faiths, the body is considered sacred. A gift that we should appreciate. Take care of. Cherish. So why not believe that self-care is a spiritual obligation? I wonder if that word – “Obligation” is too strong. I am convinced though, that self-care is our responsibility. That self-care as a spiritual practice is one of the best ways we can express our gratitude to the Author of Creation.

Its challenging, to say the least –  to advocate and serve others when our bodies only allow us to do so much. For many, by the time they’re ready to appreciate their body, it’s too late. Damage done. We should start sooner, rather than later. Today. Right now.

Self -care means doing something renewing for yourself. Ideally, that’s also connected to your values. Be intentional. Integrate self-care into your daily routine. Understand that being kind to others starts with being kind to yourself. Prioritize and protect your mental, physical and spiritual aspects of your life. Deliberate self-care will also inform how we interact and respond to the world around us. Will we let someone stress us out? Will we hold onto things out of our control? Will we tolerate those who mistreat us?

Despite what society might say, there’s nothing smart about working ourselves to death. We need to stop feeling so proud about it. If we’re not proud – but yearning to change; we’re on the right track.

Will you consider self-care a spiritual practice? A sacred activity. An exercise of your faith. A demonstration of compassion for your community. For yourself.

Your body is precious. Your spirit has a purpose. Treat both like they matter. You and the world deserve it.

Amen.

 

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