Do you ever just forget about yourself?
Like actually, love other people so much, and get so excited about life that you find yourself forgetting to drink water, eat lunch on time or haven’t started any of your own projects because you’ve been answering your texts, and scrolling through your feed and you’re under the spell of being in your mind and outside of your body?
I have. I probably spent about ten years in that space. I just wanted to be the best at my job (bartending and retail) and I wanted everyone else to be happy (going out, and making people laugh, and drinking and smoking) and make sure my house was acceptably clean.
I gained twenty pounds once and did not notice.
I just forget about myself.
I forget about my body and I forget about how this is all feeling for me. I am really good at understanding how to create an experience for others. I know exactly how and why it unfolds.
Maybe it’s from watching all the women in my family stay up all night cooking and cleaning so that during the party they’re too tired to actually enjoy it. Or maybe it’s some other innate quality, but I AM OVER IT.
And if I don’t start paying attention to myself my body is going to betray me.
How do we end this cycle so that we don’t suddenly realize that the tiny itchy spot on our ankle has turned into a bizarre rash we need to go to the doctor for (yes this really happened), or that maybe we have been working out with a pulled a muscle for the last year and a half.
Well I can think of six ways:
In the moment, if I notice I have started to rush myself for no reason, or if I have been in zombie scroll mode, or if I start to get anxious and begin to do too many things at once, I say to myself, (outloud if I can). Shhhh... Or I’ll say, Stop. I take three deep breaths to return to my body and then move on. It’s easy for this one moment of anxious energy to snowball out of control. Practicing this purposeful pause has helped me immensely. It’s a practice, but it works.
Don’t wait. When you’re hungry. When you need to use the bathroom. When you’re super tired. Just don’t wait until you’re feeling sick. It sounds super common sense but the deepest practices you will ever have will be minute changes you make in the moment that slow down how you are doing things, not what you’re doing. Have you ever paid attention to the way you walk and how your feet hit the ground, and if your heel touches first or the ball of your feet? This is a remarkably different experience than staring at your phone while trying to catch the subway. Listen to your body. If it gets boring, then even better. That sort of restless feeling we have when we slow down is just our repressed feelings and pains trying to tell us something and then us trying to run away. Don’t run away!
3. Eat or drink something that anchors you. I had a beautiful session with the talented Filipina Medium Angela Angel, (yes that’s her real legal name), and during our session, I was repeatedly asked to take a drink of water or have some food to ground myself.
I forget to drink water all the time. So, I bought a copper cup I really love and the first thing I do when I get into my shop in the morning is to fill the cup up. No matter what. I cannot open the door or turn the lights on until I fill up the cup. The second thing I do around 3 PM (because I know at 4 I will be dizzy from hunger) is to fill boil water and make a cup of Rose City Chocolate tea (with rooibos, honeybush, raw cocoa nibs, rose petals & rosehips) so I can have a little bit of sweetness and absorb the medicine of the rose: love, subtle sweet unconditional love, and also return to my body.
4. Seek community where self care is the goal. Maybe it’s yoga class. Maybe it’s breathwork. Maybe it’s just a tea date with your friend who is an amazing listener. Maybe it’s therapy. Use your people-pleasing habits to please yourself. If I schedule something for myself, I will keep pushing it back, but if I have committed to another person or place, I will show up. It’s a little way to trick myself into taking care and dedicating time to myself. (Making a massage, acupuncture or manicure appointment definitely counts by the way).
5. Seek counsel. This could be traditional psychotherapy, but it could also mean sitting quietly and asking your guides, your higher self or whatever belief system you have- maybe it’s just your subconscious or the universe-, for answers.
I have friends who are talented tarot readers, astrologers, or mediums. Whenever I check in with them it helps me take a much longer view of my life so I can return to my center. When I’m always looking left and right to what everyone else needs I can veer into a place I didn’t mean to go to. And while I believe that our narratives aren’t linear at all, I also think that looking up once in a while, or getting to a really high up place where you can see all the scenery or to a really quiet place where you can see what is going on underneath or within is extremely necessary for fulfillment and self knowledge.
6. And Lastly, CLOSE THE POSE! This is something I taught myself last year but still have to practice. Astrologically speaking, I am a cardinal sign (Aries), what this means is I am a starter, I love the beginning, I love to start things. Sometimes I start three things at once. And the wrapping up of things feels boring and difficult and it’s hard for me to pause in between projects. But one day during yoga, I really started thinking about how all energy is a series of motions and to create a “flow” you need to finish the pose you are in, fully express it before transitioning into another. Maybe I don’t need to have thirteen tabs open on my computer at a time while I am text messaging someone and listening to music. Maybe, sometimes, I can look at one thing at a time, I can fold all the laundry and put it away before checking my email. I can wrap up an event and think about what I learned from it, where it felt really aligned and places that I would rather do a different way.
Give yourself the time and space in between activities to acknowledge what you just did. This is part of what ceremony and ritual is about. Creating a habit of noticing who and what we are. But rituals and ceremonies don’t exist in a vacuum. The experience of being grateful, being quiet, and thinking about what has just transpired is something you can take with you in your everyday. When you get home from the grocery store. Write a paper. Throw a party. Whatever it is. Sit in the quiet trail where the motion has petered off and soak it up.
As I write this I am thinking about all the ways I need to follow the advice of my own higher self, need to have a day where I can actually do nothing, receive the beautiful input of my dreams, and balance my naturally yang energy, slowly becoming comfortable with the fact that the stillness of the moment is its own reward.