Sometimes, the best self-care practice is to LET IT GO…
What is “it”? The “it” for me feels a bit too multi-layered for the full telling of it, so I’ll try to give an abridged version. A situation occurred a few days ago that brought up a lot of old fears, automatic reactions, familial roles, old beliefs about myself…and I have spent these days picking it apart like a carrion bird, looking for the cores of all of what played out, and my reactions. Today, I’m down to some skin and bones of it and I’m feeling ill from the process. Rather than continue to carry this around anymore, it is just time to…let it go. Let it go and keep moving forward.
I’ll tell ya, it always makes me angry when someone says to me, “hey, just let it go..” Like, if it was always that easy, don’t you think I would’ve done it a long time ago?! So, here are some practices that help me to let go:
Acknowledge what it is: Fear, an old belief about myself that is not true, ‘games’ I don’t wanna play anymore, an old story on repeat, etc. etc. You know what it is. You don’t need to tell anyone else but yourself.
Breath–I inhale…energy, light, good vibes, love, etc….and exhale what is done, not mine, no longer relevant, what is DONE. The medium, John Edward has a practice of inhaling + signs, and exhaling – signs as a visual to help let go of things.
Water–use a nice warm shower to not only cleans your physical body but cleans your energetic body of guck that needs to be let go of. See the water carrying all that old stuff down the drain. Drink water and see it entering your body to wash away all that needs to be done and gone. Stand in the rain and feel it wash away all that old muck.
My daily gratitude practice is usually done at bedtime. I reflect and acknowledge the things I am grateful for that day. I have also made a practice of expressing my genuine gratitude to others for being in my life, for sharing their time with me, for giving me their knowledge and insights.
When times are really tough, it helps me to go to foundational gratitudes: I have a bed to sleep in, an apartment with great heat and air conditioning, food to eat, hot water running easily from all faucets, a washer and drying for cleaning my clothes, clothes to wear…you get where I’m going here. I reach for these because I remember the times I did not have these things. Being grateful for them puts me fully into the present moment.
I’ve decided to start AND end my day with gratitude today. So this morning, I’m grateful for crazy squirrels on my balcony, an oven, chocolate, internet, clean water from my faucet, school, and YOU.
Here are a few resources on gratitude as self-care:
I think many of us would answer NO to that question. Getting enough sleep is an important part of self-care. Studies show that adults should get 7-9 hours a night. Thriveworks.com says that getting an adequate amount of sleep can help to…
Ensure safety behind the wheel. Have you ever driven sleepy? Considering 1 in 3 adults don’t get enough sleep, you probably have. “Drowsy driving not only puts you at risk, but others on the road,” says Fish. “Nearly 20% of auto accidents take place because of a drowsy driver. Simply put, a full night of sleep saves lives.”
Promote mental wellness. And finally, getting a good night’s rest helps to cultivate mental wellness. “Being sleep deprived doesn’t give your brain the necessary time to reset for the next day. This causes not only moodiness, but making sound decisions,” Fish explains. Furthermore, poor sleep habits can lead to negative thinking, irritability, and even mental illness like depression and anxiety.
To help me see how much sleep I’m actually getting in a night (or during a nap), and the quality of that sleep, I track it on my Fitbit app. I still have an older Fitbit tracker (a Blaze with a hand-me-down band from my Bonus Dad) but it still does the job! So I can see how many times I wake up in the night, how long I’m awake, and how much time I am in Deep, Light, and REM sleep. I’m a big Deep and REM sleeper. With the Fitbit app, you can also set sleep alarms to tell you when it’s time to wind down and get to bed. And the best part of it is that as long as I keep my tracker charged, it tracks my sleep automatically so no need to input bedtimes or wake times. It has helped me to see patterns in sleep issues, such as when my resting pulse rate rises I have more trouble sleeping, and can then problem solve why that might be happening.
I know there are other sleep trackers out there. Do you use one?
My mom has difficulty staying asleep at night, so she’s spent a lot of time trying different things to help go back to sleep. Something that works very well for her is sound. She tried many different sounds:
TV programs/movies playing all night (she found this good for falling asleep because it caused her to focus only on the story of a movie she’d seen a billion times)
those sleep videos on YouTube that have different frequencies, such as THIS ONE
random YouTube music videos (not good if the video is short, you have your YouTube set to AUTO, and it selects techno club music at 3am)
Sound machine (this worked for quite a while, and is still used occasionally)
She sleeps best to the sounds of rain and thunderstorms. Not a gentle rain, but a torrential downpour with booms of thunder. Like THIS ONE
When my kid was very little, I ran a home daycare out of our apartment on Ramstein Air Base in Germany. For naptime, I played a CD with light instrumentals and bird sounds. It worked very well, so well that, years later when my kid was a teen, I put that same CD in to listen to and was asked to “please turn that off, it makes me very sleepy”.
Have you ever tried sound to help relax and sleep? If so, what sounds do you prefer?
Early this year, I reworked my entire website, changing the look and adding pages with headings I felt were more authentically me. I also recreated my mailing list links and added them to all pages, with the intent of sharing information and resources on a very regular basis. Then came the COVID pandemic, lockdown, and the complete upheaval of all the illusions of stability. And so here I find myself, firmly in November, feeling this need to write a blog post that is highly inspirational and insightful, when my life is still dominated by my struggle to survive.
It is hard to find that calm within, so hard to center and find that sacred within and in my life, when I’m worrying about whether I can pay my rent. I was speaking to a friend last night about this and she said, “do you think you’re the only person who is feeling this way?” And that question made me realize that I was working so hard to maintain this “professional” image on my website, my blog, and all of my social media, that I was doing an incredible disservice to you and myself. Hiding helps no one, and by not sharing the realities of these months and how they have, and still, are affecting me, I perpetuate the illusion that I am alone in this…and that you are too.
The reality is…this year has been hard. I live alone, and these months of solitude have taken a toll. Now I’m a person who loves their alone time, but this has been extreme. My businesses came to a standstill in March and have yet to recover. My grad school went to completely remote classes, requiring internet and a good computer. In these months I have had multiple times when I was on the edge of eviction. I have been so incredibly thankful for food pantries, because without them I would’ve had no food to eat. And I don’t even want to talk about how overdue so many of my bills are. Or how close I am to losing my car. I know that so many people have been dealing with these same issues, or worse. And I haven’t even mentioned the exhaustion that comes with months of fear of this novel coronavirus, political drama, and multi-faceted civil unrest…let alone decades of white supremacy, racism, ableism, colonialism, and exclusion.
So, as I struggle to survive, it takes so much more effort to find my center, to find the sacred within and in the world around me. But desperate times call for desperate measures, eh? These are some of the practices I’ve added to my life this year to help me:
Gratitude — it can be so challenging to be grateful when the struggle is so overwhelming. Taking a pause to be authentically grateful for what I do have brings me to the present, to what IS, right now, in this moment.
Breath — I know, this might seem silly. We breathe all the time without even thinking about it. But, I have respiratory issues, and with stress they get so much worse. I started a yoga teacher training in July and learning multiple pranayama practices has helped me immensely. My favorites are nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) and kumbhaka (retention of breath). And a slow, deep inhale with a slow, noisy exhale tells your brain that it is not in an emergency situation, allowing it to tell your body to calm. I’ve taught myself to do this almost automatically when my anxiety and stress level gets high, and it helps more than you might imagine.
Community — early on in the lockdown, I realized how lonely I was and that I needed to do something about that. On really bad days, I often forgot that I actually had friends or any type of community whatsoever. So, I made an extra effort to reach out to far away friends and family through phone calls and text messages. My seminary at One Spirit Learning Alliance started adding weekly Gatherings and I made an effort to attend. I attended monthly Ecstatic Dance gatherings via Zoom through my seminary. I reached out to my Sister Goddess community and rejoined a women’s Avalonian Goddess tradition. When I write it, it looks like overkill, but I needed and still need them all.
Meditation — this is a constant struggle for me, but something I work at because I know how much more centered and calm I feel afterwards. Because I have a very busy mind, guided meditation works better for me. I can focus on the words to still my mind. Silent meditation isn’t as easy, though I now find that I crave that silence, a break from the worries and fears around survival.
Nature and Animals — I currently live in an apartment community, and with the pandemic I now rarely leave my apartment. So I can now tell how big a change in my mood, my stress level, my overall energy, just opening my windows or walking outside makes. I am such an animal person and sadly do not have any living in my home right now, so just walking to the dumpsters and taking the time to stop and watch squirrels or listen to the various birds talking in the trees brings such incredible joy deep inside of me.
Music and Dancing — I’ll tell you a secret. I think I was born dancing. But for so many years, I lived in environments where I could not play music or dance freely. So when I moved into my current apartment, I still had this fear around playing music. It took until a few months ago, when my aloneness piled heavily on top of my survival fears, that I finally decided to play music aloud in my home. When the music plays, and my body moves, I am in such a place of joy. I don’t understand why I deny myself that, and have for so long.
None of these are magic answers to my survival struggle, but they have helped me to stay somewhat sane, and to find that calm and centered place inside where I know the Sacred can then and there be Seen, Felt, and Known. In these activities, I can suddenly Know the Sacred outside of me as well as inside. Sometimes I only see it for a brief second, but that second is like a healing balm on my most painful, wounded places. And with that healing, I am able to stay centered longer, more present, more grounded and rooted…and I passionately believe that the more I heal and grow, the closer I am to releasing this state of suffering, this seemingly unending struggle to survive.
How are you feeling today? Are you struggling to survive as well? Where has this years struggles taken you on a deeper level?Do you have any powerful tools to help you find the Sacred?
This workshop is designed to benefit midwives, obstetricians, doulas, nurses, lactation consultants, prenatal yoga teachers, prenatal massage therapists, hospital chaplains, ministers, counselors, and pastoral care providers who support women/pregnant persons and their families through pregnancy loss. One need not be employed in these fields – everyone is welcome.
Rev. Dawn Welburn will guide participants through a heartfelt analysis of three key components central to holding space for grieving mothers, fathers, pregnant persons, and their families ~
* An introduction to the companioning model of care * An exploration of best care practices surrounding bereaved mothers/pregnant persons. * A cross-cultural understanding of the healing power of ritual
This training is ONLINE, 6 hours long–divided into 2 days.
October 24 & 25, 2020. 11am-2pm Central US time each day.
Cost is $90 * some scholarships available
**there are no refunds. May be used for next training in circumstances of a birth/death you need to attend.
Contact Dawn@Dawnwelburn.com with questions and to register. Links to pay via PayPal or Venmo will be sent.
Let us take a journey between the worlds of life and death, looking back at the past to more consciously grieve and die today…
Janus has two faces, one that looks into the past and the other looking to the future.
In this workshop, we will explore and experience how our ancestors in cultures around the world expressed grief and death, and how we feel about bringing those practices into our lives today to more actively and consciously embrace death and grief.
The Between the Worlds: Journey into Death and Grief workshop is a place for heartfelt inquiry into death and grief. People of all philosophies and faith traditions are warmly welcomed to gather together to listen, learn, and ~ most importantly ~ personally reflect upon how we experience death and grief.
Would you like to host a training with me? I am currently scheduling training workshops around the US on pregnancy loss, for summer and fall of 2019.
Holding Space for Pregnancy Loss (HSPL) was created by Amy Wright Glenn, founder of the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death. This workshop will compassionately and wisely prepare participants to more confidently and clearly hold space for one of life’s most painful and devastating losses.
HSPL is specifically geared toward Birth Doulas, Therapists, Nurses, Midwives, Ministers, OBGYNs, Fertility Specialists, Birth Photographers , Prenatal Yoga Teachers, Prenatal Massage Therapists, Funeral Home Directors, End-of-life Care Professionals, and Bereaved Parent Peer Supporters and Activists.