Another year draws to a close, and chances are most of us are feeling pretty exhausted by now. Once we’ve survived Christmas, we might be looking to the year ahead, and perhaps start forming some New Year’s resolutions – to lose weight, exercise more, learn Spanish, de-clutter the spare room. All these are no doubt worthy aims, but there is another question which doesn’t tend to make our list – how can I nourish myself better in 2014?
Nourishment is not quite the same as self-care, although they overlap, of course. Self-care can seem a bit like taking the car to be serviced – something which needs to be done to keep the engine ticking over at maximum efficiency. Self-care is healthy, but as a concept it can still keep us tied down in the ‘doing’ mode:
‘I will meditate for 20 minutes a day so I can be more efficient at work.’
All well and good, but where is our deepest sense of self in all of this? And what is it which nourishes that deepest sense of self? It’s different for all of us, but can often be something we felt drawn to as a young child. What did you enjoy doing as a child? What did you want to be when you grew up? You may not have ended up as a professional ballerina, but perhaps a subscription to the ballet could be what deeply nourishes you in the coming year. Or you loved drawing, but haven’t picked up a crayon in years. You could enrol in a drawing class at your local neighbourhood centre, and enjoy the sense of creativity and exploration this brings.
As adults, we can become overly serious, burdened down with responsibilities. This is not about becoming childish, but it’s all too easy to lose that lively spark which children tend to have. And sometimes it takes very little to get that spark back – just a few hours here and there to do something which nourishes our deeper sense of self.
Mindfulness can help us be more effective in life, but we risk diminishing it if we see it simply as a method for turning us into more efficient ‘doing machines’. At its heart, mindfulness is about coming back home to the ground of our being – to have our actions emerge from this ‘being’ sense rather than trying to impose a ‘doing’ mode onto our sense of identity. We need to function well, but we also yearn to be nourished.
So what nourishes you? Usually, it’s something very simple. A bit of time to be creative, to reflect, to explore, to be on your own, to have fun, to feel connected, to play. Some people might like a quiet time of prayer, others will be tap-dancing on stage with hundreds of others to the sound of a big band. Whatever it is for us, creating space in our life for what nourishes us helps us to shift away from seeing mindfulness as a useful method, and towards embodying it as a way of life.
Weekly practice idea:
You may already know exactly what you need to feel more nourished, or you may like to spend a little time exploring what that could be for you. Once you have found it, look at ways of including it more regularly into your life.
The next weekly reflection will be published on Monday, 13th January 2014. Thank you to all those who have responded to the reflections this year, I have really appreciated your ideas and feedback. With best wishes for a safe and happy festive season,