“Awake my dear. Be kind to your sleeping heart take it out into the vast fields of light and let it breathe.”
K. Pattabhi Jois
In having true Devotion to Self we come to deeply know that we are perfect just as we are, despite all our human frailties and mistakes we have made. We discover that because of this we can deeply and completely relax knowing that we are enough. We always are, always were and always will be.
We learn to remind ourselves of this as often as we can irrespective of how others view us. We celebrate our uniqueness and individuality, our past and our future. We celebrate being ourselves.
In Devotion to Self we remind ourselves each day that we are perfect. You are perfect simply in the awesomeness of being alive, in breathing, in moving, in relating to the world, and in the many other aspects of living that happen each day. Importantly this includes appreciating being all of the person we are, with all of the multitude of thoughts, emotions and feelings that flow through us. We realise that we are all being exactly what it is to be human, with all our imperfections, and that this is enough. Everything about us becomes welcomed by ourselves as a unique expression of what it is to be us, alive, here, now. In recognising this in ourselves we are then able to see it also in others and from here we can relate to people and the world around us with an increasingly Open Heart.
In exploring Devotion to Self, here are some practices to get you started...
Our modern world can be a busy place with many demands on our time and energy. It is quite often rare for us to resource ourselves on a regular basis before we get to a critical burnt-out place. In everyday life, quite often we forget that when we are fully resourced we are able to be the best version of ourselves, for us and for others.
This is a simple practice but one that few give themselves permission to do regularly. When you do, your life will change for the better very quickly.
This is not about taking time to slot in another exercise class, or hobby activity, but more about undoing busyness. It’s about giving your adrenals a rest and slowing right down in order to nourish your whole system. For some this is a wholly unfamiliar feeling. For others who are practiced at it, we invite you to explore a new depth of letting go and surrendering to stillness.
Find a time over the coming days where you can be alone for one hour. We know that this can be difficult for some people to arrange, with small children etc, but we also know that even difficult things are possible and if it was an essential thing for someone else the chances are you would work it out somehow. Arrange what you need to for this time to be possible and tell those who have demands on your time that you are taking this time for yourself, and in this time you won't be available. This may be your partner, kids or close friends for example. Schedule this time in your diary, make a ‘do not disturb’ sign for your door if needed, switch your mobile phone and computer off. You are now not on call.
Decide somewhere that you will spend this time where you can do something that is purely for yourself, with no purpose other than it to be something nourishing to you that you want to do. It could be something creative like drawing, or painting, or reading a book. Maybe a walk in nature, or a meditation. Perhaps sitting on a bench and watching the world go by, or maybe it is closing your eyes and listening to some gentle music in a quiet space or a bubble bath.
The only requirements are that it’s entirely for you, it’s a peaceful, relaxing activity, and you take the full time you’ve allotted.
When it comes to this time, follow through on your diary commitment - the start time and end time - perhaps by way of an alarm, so you don't have to worry about over-running. Check your phone is switched to airplane mode. And take the hour for yourself.
When it’s time, return to your daily life, with a thank you to yourself for gifting yourself that time and a thank you to anyone that you told you would be taking that time.
In noticing how this improves our feeling of being resourced, and subsequently our ability to open into life, we learn how important it is to be in Devotion to Self.
We learn that in doing so we both enhance our own lives and that of the other people we interact with.
Who is the self you are devoted to?
When we say Devotion to Self, what do we actually mean? What comes to mind for you? What is your Self?
Take some time to write down all of the roles you perform. All your ‘Selves’ as you see them. Perhaps, mother, or father, teacher, friend, dancer, lover, artist, yogi, employee, manager, cyclist, writer, housekeeper, shopper, teacher, singer, etc…
Journal on which of these do you love, which do you find more difficult, which flow for you, which constrict? Are some more serious to you or more ‘grown up’? We tend to give different roles different value judgements. What are yours?
Now spend some time in reflection, appreciating all that you are and all that you do. All of these aspects of you and your life. All of your ‘self’. How could you gift yourself with more awe and respect for all of these roles you perform? How could your moving between all of these become more pleasurable? Become your work of art? How could you bring a lightness into the dance of it all? And what else?
Maybe there are things you notice here that need some attention. Maybe roles or parts of these roles that you are holding tightly that could be loosened a little. Often, as we play and go deeper into this, we begin to notice that underneath, each aspect is the same and that one no longer has to be constricted, held more tightly, or taken more seriously than another. And that across the board, more play can be brought into them all somehow.
What would this mean for your world?