What is Self Care?

This post is the third in a series highlighting the way Dr. Wayne Dyer’s quote, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change,” has proven to be a natural process of learning and growing in my experiences. I’ve noticed that much of our growth is defined by changing or even shedding our beliefs. Today I reflect on redefining the self.

Image by Kei Rothblack from Pixabay

In general self care carries a wide range of meanings depending on the needs and priorities of each individual. However, I’ve also come to understand that it also revolves around the way one defines “self.” Up to recent years, I have typically defined myself in three different context of the self: mind, body, and spirit. Let’s explore these ideas further.

Mind Self When defining ourselves in the context of the mind, we value thinking and knowing. We tend to characterize ourselves based on what we know. Validations often rest on thoughts of being right, accumulating information, or establishing control of order and circumstances. With this central focus, self care, or creating time for “me,” might look like taking an evening class in an area of interest, reading books to learn more on a topic, solving puzzles, or talking and socializing with others. Let’s face it, even gossiping is a form of wanting to know other people’s business, right?

Body Self In the body context, our priorities shift to appearance and physical condition. When this context aligns with our needs or priorities, we find worth in the way we physically show up not only to others but to the one we see reflected in the mirror. The first thought that may come to mind about self care in this area could be working out or exercising.  But it could also be taking the time to show a flair for fashion, to maintain a specialized diet (not required by a diagnosed medical condition), or to schedule a mani-pedi regularly.

Spirit Self Our beliefs and faith become the focus in the context of spirit. When self is defined by this term, we practice self care by attending church services, making time for fellowship in a variety of activities, singing in the church choir, or volunteering to serve in some capacity within our community of worship. We often demonstrate our worth by the depth of commitment to our beliefs and our degree of surrender to faith in these beliefs.

I once believed that caring for me by finding alignment of my mind, body, and spirit covered all aspects of self care.  But now I know differently. Beginning with a consistent meditation practice, I discovered another layer of self care. Meditation didn’t really pair up with the way I described the Mind Self since it’s a practice that brings you to a state of non-thinking. Meditation certainly does not build up the Body Self because essentially you are just in a state of being. I think of meditation as something untethered to dogma so it doesn’t quite hit the mark as serving the Spirit Self based on my general description.  So what part of me does it support? How does meditation fit in my routines of self care? Is there another way of looking at the self?

Meditation opened my awareness to my inner Self. In fact, I am not my mind; not my body; not my dogmatic beliefs. As Eckhart Tolle explains it, our inner Self, or soul, is the observer of our thoughts. It is the part of us that appears as a “gut feeling” or instinct. It blossoms through creativity. Our soul recognizes synergy when we make an unexplainable connection to others. These are just a few examples that can’t be cultivated simply by taking care of our mind, body, and spirit. Making time for awe, joy, purpose, and love can feed this deeper part of the self.

Certainly, I’m not suggesting that we do away with considering mind, body, and spirit. And actually, some acts of self care may reach multiple levels of who we are. What I’m suggesting is that we don’t stop with the obvious. I now understand that being intentional about self care involves delving within me to also nuture my Being…my authentic Self.  

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