Today I’d like to talk about ‘motivation’ and how we look at self care.
We all know that eating well, moving our bodies and practising mindfulness is good for our health.
Breathing well and deeply alone has so many mental and physical health benefits it’s impossible to deny that taking time out, will positively effect our lives on every level.
It impacts our work, study, relationships, parenting, mood, digestion, memory, cognitive function, overall health the list goes on and on. . .but somehow, so many of us just don’t stop, just don’t take the time, to take care.
So I wanted to write about what might be happening.
Why we don’t take that time out?
One reason for not feeling able to incorporate self care activities into our days is the loss of subtle sensation.
By this I mean, the loss of capacity to feel, sense and experience emotions and sensations that are subtle. That are not intense in their range.
Being stimulated all the time by apps designed to get our brains chemically addicted, screens whose light alone stimulates our brains in very real and intense ways, by news, gossip and information bombarding us every step of every day. As well as many of us living in cultures where self worth is measured by how much we do, achieve and how fast we do it.
This all often leaves us not able to notice our more subtle feelings and sensations as we have become desensitised to ourselves.
One consequence of this is that we begin to be creatures that only notice intense multi-sensorial stimulation.
By that I mean that we only really have a conscious feeling response when things are immediate, fast and packed with lots of different overwhelming, addictive stimuli.
We just don’t notice the subtle experiences anymore. Our brains have been trained not to notice.
In this way our bodies and brains begin to forget to even notice subtle feelings and sensations.
We don’t notice small joys, smells, sights, that light on the tree in the morning as we walk to the bus stop. The smell of rain on grass, the sensation of a soft scarf on our necks.
We feel underwhelmed by these things.
We can find ourselves longing for meaning, but bombarding ourselves with intense trivia. So much data, and so fast, that we don’t actually have any time to process it, or have a real response.
We google an answer that we don’t retain, or have any thought or feeling response to, because we’re already checking Twitter, What’s App, our work email on our personal phone.
This forgetting of how to notice subtle sensation leaves us always ‘bored ‘ and ‘agitated’, slowing down feels impossible, our brains become addicted to the over stimulation, and struggle to stay still or enjoy the subtle.
The fear of boredom, of missing out (FOMO) leaves us never knowing what subtle joy, laughter, sensorial pleasure we have missed.
That agitation you feel is simply the addicted brain struggling with not ‘getting a hit’.
The subtle pleasure of noticing – the jaw release and relax, or the sensation in the arms if we raise them millimetre by millimetre above our heads and down again.
The small joy of wind touching our skin. These things, if felt, are what motivates us to do self care. Self care is simply, any act that nourishes us. That feeds us, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.
In not attending to our self care needs, we become starving, hungry animals struggling through each day, using stimulants and avoidance tactics to deny our of our deep longing for more.
But more is not always a good thing, more money, more likes, more success. More might be – more connection, to self, others, the environment, more joy, more presence in the moment, more of a sense of comfort, safety and belonging.
A car with no petrol breaks down by the side of the road eventually.
Are you running with the petrol gauge on red?
The way forward is not to force yourself to get to that dance class, then worry and rush through it , busy thinking about how your bum looks in those leggings, or what you need to do at work tomorrow.
That’s like filling up a petrol tank with gin.
The trick isn’t to push too hard, then fail to attend all your yoga classes or switch on your headspace app.
The trick is to just slow down little by little.
Forgiving your busy over stimulated brain for not knowing how to do this just yet.
Slow down for one minute.
Breathe one breath fully. Into your belly big belly rises up, breath leaves, belly button sinks to spine. Just one at a time.
See every detail your eyes can see for 30 seconds.
Notice your jaw, your tongue, your throat , let them melt, just for a minute.
Put some lavender oil onto your palms and rub fast to create some heat, place your finger tips on your eye brows. . .and smell. . Deeply.
Notice the sensation of shower water hitting the top of your head.
Do any one of these things, do anything at all . . slowly, noticing the whole experience, all the sensations and feelings, just notice, don’t be mean, don’t make judgements. Let the brain have 30 seconds off. As many times in a day as you can manage.
Most of us can’t manage a minute. So we try and we fail, because our screen, app, social media, refined sugar addicted brains can’t cope.
Don’t go cold turkey.
Go slow. Build up to more self care real slowly.
Just start with what’s possible, then stretch the time out a little each day.
Sit on the tube and close your eyes and feel the motion of the beast of an engine your feet. Just for one moment.
Turn off the stimulation and be here in this moment.
When your brain interrupts. Forgive it. It’s an addict for stimuli and is desperate to do too much, all the time.
Be gentle with it. Be kind to it.