“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world…as in being able to remake ourselves.”—Mahatma Gandhi
I used to think that being spiritual meant not really thinking about yourself, but devoting your life to service and God, aka, the asceticism of Mother Teresa. For over 20 years, I was deeply committed to my spiritual life, and I performed thousands of hours of spiritual practices, plus enormous amounts of seva, or “self-less service.”
But when it came time to take care of myself in other ways, I thought that was not really my job. I had great faith that God would provide…and all that. No doubt about it, I received much in return and have no regrets. Yet my attitudes and behaviors around self-care and, subsequently, self-awareness were lagging behind.
This is strange, in retrospect, as I certainly recognized the negative impact on many other people of not caring for self—not sleeping enough, not eating well, not having healthy relationships, and/or not tending to spiritual needs. Finally, after many years of offering energy healing to clients, I began to sense that my own meter was bordering on empty. Even though I did daily self-healing with Reiki, I found I was not keeping up. There were more facets to this “self-care” business than I realized.
I was dealing with so many deeply held issues, for many clients who struggled profoundly, that I wasn’t very often in receiving mode, and I definitely was out of balance. This showed up in many ways. My money was depleted before the end of the month; I was often drained and didn’t have enough solitary time and playtime to restore. I regularly worked until late into the night, rarely ate at a decent hour and always felt “I should be doing more.” I started having chronic back pain, as well.
And it wasn’t as if I didn’t know better; for many years, I had been receiving very clear guidance that I needed to raise my rates and receive weekly bodywork to keep myself from taking on too much and having it pile up physically and emotionally. While I am generally really great about listening to my inner guidance, I resisted implementing both of these “suggestions” for many years.
How Does Self-Awareness Play into the Picture?
Self-awareness is the first step in creating what you want and mastering your life. Having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions, also allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them. Ultimately, where you focus—your energy and attention, your emotions, as well as reactions and behavior—determines where you go in life. Having self-awareness allows you to see where your thoughts and emotions are taking you, and subsequently make the changes you want.
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.”—Aldous Huxley
Permission and Modeling
As I became more self-aware regarding my blocks to self-care, I became very curious about how other transformation and thought leaders were managing their lives while still having a huge impact on the world around them. I began to ask some conscious and successful people (traits I used to think didn’t go together) and they all said the same thing: their income and overall success didn’t really climb until they started reclaiming their boundaries and gifting themselves more free time—for families, for fun, for self-care. It seemed totally counterintuitive to so many work ethic paradigms I was raised with.
Finally, a friend took me to a women’s retreat with a fabulously successful business coach, and I was hooked. It was not because of how she could help me totally restructure my business, which I really needed; the big draw initially was how she balanced her life. She went into great detail about her weekly schedule: regular chiropractic care and massage each week, each evening watching a movie with her hubby, early am rides on her horses. No work on weekends…I thought, THIS IS FOR ME.
My multimillionaire mentor described her week like this: Each morning I meet my trainer and ride my horses first thing; around 10 a.m., I check in with my manager on the phone to plan the day; each evening I have dinner around 6 p.m. with my husband, and then we watch a movie together; each week I have two treatments (chiropractic and massage). Most weeks, Friday and the weekend are off.
She is assisting thousands of women to create prosperous and transformational businesses while also living their dreams. What a concept! For so long my spiritual life and needs dominated my world, and while I do not regret my path and decisions in the least, in the end I was way better at struggling and barely surviving financially than I was at thriving. And my dear husband was having some serious health concerns. I knew something had to shift, as I really wanted to step up and support our household even more.
I realized on some level I wasn’t “walking my talk.” I was teaching all my clients how to better care for themselves, via Reiki energy healing, and most of them needed way more self-care as well. So instead of just telling them to seek for self-care, I realized I had to model it myself. This was illuminated when I met Marci Shimoff, and she spoke of how she took a weeklong silent retreat in the midst of a book launch, as she had planned it a year in advance. She almost backed out thinking it was really bad timing and too long to be off the grid. Yet this was when she received her BIG IDEA for Chicken Soup for the Woman’s Soul!
My journey of giving myself more spaciousness, more time to focus on what is important in my life involved many aspects. I had to begin delegating out some tasks both in my house and in my business; I had to learn how to set boundaries with clients and family; I had to rearrange some priorities and let go of activities that didn’t fit anymore; and I had to heal core aspects of the need to over-give; I had to stop feeling a lack of self-worth if I wasn’t totally exhausting myself; and I had to overcome a resistance to fully receiving. Of course, a big bonus was that as soon as I was able to do this more skillfully, I was able to help all my clients as well.
Model Successful People
Overall, modeling other people’s positive lifestyle changes has truly given me permission to make some serious shifts. Growing up, my parents both were very hardworking; my father was a surgeon and he rarely came home before 9 p.m. His version of a day off was no surgeries, but a day of doing his rounds, which often became a full day as well.
It was seen as a badge of honor and devotion to pull all-nighters in preparation for just about any event. Now I view this more often as poor planning, unhealthy boundaries and possibly over-committing. Only rarely does it feel that working that late on anything is beneficial for any purpose or person.
My mentors have helped me see that you can have a huge impact in the world, while still enjoying a happy, healthy and balanced lifestyle—maybe even as a result of that balanced lifestyle.
I now see a happy, healthy and balanced lifestyle as a prerequisite for the “ease and grace” I choose to emulate. The more that my consciousness evolves, the more that “Balance and Ease” is my mantra. It is almost as if the “gear” of struggle and self-sacrifice has been eliminated; anymore, it is barely possible for me to get out of sync with ease and harmony and happy. My whole being just shuts down and says, “Not happening.” This was a bit unnerving at times because I wondered if I had lost the drive and devotion give it my all. But, in truth, I am being totally supported to maintain these boundaries so I can remain even-keeled. As a result, I am truly walking my talk, and for that I am grateful. And happy. And serene. This is the vibration, the possibility, the new paradigm, the ripple I wish to send out into the world.
If you are looking for someone to “give you permission” to enjoy more self-care, more “you” time, and more nurturing of self and spirit, I certainly give you permission today. Now. Don’t wait. I believe it is one of the best gifts you can give to the world.
Today, I am proud to report I have accomplished the dinner and movie every night starting around 6 p.m., the weekly 90-minute massage/Reiki session, regular working hours, weekends off (or taking off midweek through the weekend) and early morning time to do a little gardening or just sit with cup of coffee, contemplating…not rushing. I have created spaciousness in my schedule to accommodate more teaching and writing, which enables me to reach more people. I feel ease and balance more often than not. Trust has replaced worry. More and more, I am being the change.
My back is hardly ever a problem because my self-care diffuses tensions and imbalances before they manifest structurally. I am grateful because it is truly wonderful to feel this good in your own body! Once I began to receive massage and Reiki every week, my husband started getting regular bodywork, and it has released a lot of pressure between us because we no longer need to deal with each other’s aches and pains and general grumpiness around being overextended.
When we make other’s happiness and well-being a priority over ourselves, we are setting up a dissonance, a discord. We are sending a double message. Self-care also is quite necessary to bump up if you are a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), or an empath who tends to feel what others are feeling, as I am. HSPs may require more frequent self-care than others to stay in balance.
Ultimately, if we choose to live at ever-increasing levels of harmony, happiness and fulfillment, self-care becomes a necessity. This is just what we need to do…
Self-Care = Happy!
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”—Mahatma Ghandi
Ultimately, I now view life much more expansively. Rather than focusing only on my austere practices of meditation, my spiritual practice now includes time to just unplug, take care of my body and prepare healthy meals infused with soul. I now know that Spirit is able to work through me so much clearer when I am in receiving mode, when I love myself enough to allow more time and space for contemplation, for pondering, for meandering in my garden, for doing things I love, for nurturing relationships and for being HAPPY.
Self-care really raises your happy meter, which, of course, naturally raises your vibration—a key to all spiritual and healing endeavors. Once my teacher exclaimed: “You have all done so much ego-death work; so much past karma has been released. It is now time to be HAPPY!” What a concept! I embraced it as Truth in that very moment, and everything in my life began to shift as a result. Happiness is the core of all desires anyway…Underneath everything you want is the goal of feeling happy. So why not go for happy?
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”—Mandy Hale
Contemplations for Self-Awareness around Self-Care:
- What do you feel when you do things that are only for you?
- Do you feel guilty?
- Do you feel you don’t deserve it?
- Do you feel like you are taking away from someone else (kids, parents, spouses, business or clients)?
If you answered “yes” to any of these three questions, then ask: How can you reframe this for yourself?
- What do you think can open up for you if you begin to nurture yourself more?
- What else may ease up in your life if you are in balance?
- Who do you know that has self-care habits that you admire? Take one of these people out for coffee and ask for tips.
“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.”
Kumari is an internationally acclaimed intuitive coach, master healer, best-selling author, spiritual evolutionary, and animal mystic. Her deepest joy is empowering others to unwrap their innate intuitive, manifesting, and healing gifts. Kumari hosted “Co-Creation Activations” radio show on World Puja Network and the Internet TV program “How to Heal Anything Live.” She is coauthor of the bestselling book Empowering Transformations for Women and just released her new eBook Animal Communication Magic & Miracles: 13 Keys to Deepen Your Bond with Your Pets, Improve Health & Change Behavior Immediately. Kumari is a catalyst for spiritual evolution. Through energy alchemy and unveiling the human/animal spiritual interconnectedness, she has helped thousands around the globe experience bliss, our true divinity and Oneness. For more information visit www.kumarihealing.com.