Self Care and Mindful Living
Some of the best advice I’ve ever been given is “Take a Breath and Connect.” When I first started taking gentle Self Care Yoga about 15 years ago, my teacher Kate Forest used to say this all the time. It seemed so simple when she said it but after a busy day of work, rushing to get to yoga class, and still thinking about everything that hadn’t been accomplished on my “To Do List,” I couldn’t seem to quiet my mind. As if she knew what I was thinking, Kate would say, “It’s OK if you still have thoughts racing though your head. Just acknowledge them and then come back into this moment.” She always believed in the body, mind, breath connection and by making us aware of it, we were able to care for ourselves; thus, making it easier for us to care for other people in our lives. After an hour of gentle yoga, any stress I was feeling at the beginning of class had dissipated and I felt relaxed and rejuvenated.
Although Kate closed her yoga studio years ago, she hasn’t stopped promoting “Self Care and Mindful Living.” She is now teaching others the significance of “Self Care Moments” that we can integrate into our daily lives. Instead of attending an hour yoga class to quiet my mind and find some inner peace, Kate has taught me a number of skills to practice “to bring the healthy habit of mindful living into my busy life.” Some of my favorites are the following:
1. Give yourself permission to pause
2. Rush mindfully
3. Use technology mindfully
4. Pause, breathe and connect
By being mindful every day and giving myself permission to pause for a few seconds, or a few moments here and there scattered throughout my day, I feel like I am less stressed than I used to be. I am much more aware of challenging situations and before I get overwhelmed by them, I pause, take a breath and connect. For instance, when I’m at work and every phone call and e-mail I get is marked “Urgent,” I sit back in my chair for a moment and take a breath before responding to any of them. I am only one person and can only put out one fire at a time. Eventually, I will get to all of them but I am not going to compromise my health to satisfy their sense of urgency. Possessing this self-awareness is invaluable to me and my Multiple Sclerosis. It helps reduce my stress level; thus, keeping my MS symptoms under control. I am truly blessed to have crossed paths with Kate Forest and I believe in her vision that if we care for ourselves, we will be able to care for others; thus caring for the world. To view more self care skills or to “reflect on times that you can practice pausing and breathing in your own life,” please visit Kate’s website at www.kateforest.com.