Wednesday, December 25, 2019

For the holiday season - the gift of self care

To acknowledge that today is a special one for a large fraction of humanity, I want to pass on Parker-Pope's description of suggestions by Korean Buddhist teacher Haemin Sunim - five simple steps to quiet the mind and soothe stress at any time of the year, all in the spirit of "be good to yourself first - then to others."

Start by just taking a deep breath. Become mindful of your breathing. You’ll notice that when you begin, your breathing is shorter and more shallow, but as you continue, your breathing becomes deeper. Take just a few minutes each day to focus on your breathing. “As my breathing becomes much deeper and I’m paying attention to it, I feel much more centered and calm,” Haemin Sunim said. “I feel I can manage whatever is happening right now.”
Acceptance — of ourselves, our feelings and of life’s imperfections — is a common theme in “Love for Imperfect Things.” The path to self-care starts with acceptance, especially of our struggles. “If we accept the struggling self, our state of mind will soon undergo a change,” Haemin Sunim writes. “When we regard our difficult emotions as a problem and try to overcome them, we only struggle more. In contrast, when we accept them, strangely enough our mind stops struggling and suddenly grows quiet. Rather than trying to change or control difficult emotions from the inside, allow them to be there, and your mind will rest.”
Begin to practice acceptance through a simple writing exercise. Write down the situation you must accept and all that you are feeling. Write down the things in your life that are weighing on you'''the goal is to leave it all on the paper. Now go to bed and when you wake up, choose the easiest task on the list to complete. “In the morning, rather than resisting, I will simply do the easiest thing I can do from the list,” Haemin Sunim said. “Once I finish the easiest task, it’s much easier to work on the second.”
Never underestimate the value of meaningful conversation for your well-being. Make time on a regular basis for a close, nonjudgmental friend...Choose someone who will listen without any kind of judgment...Once the story is released, you can see it more objectively, and you will know what it is you need to do.”
One of the easiest ways to care for yourself is to take a walk. Just walking...can distract your mind and create space between you and whatever is causing stress in your life... If you start walking, our physical energy changes and rather than dwelling on that story, you can pay attention to nature — a tree trunk, a rock. You begin to see things more objectively, and oftentimes that stress within your body will be released simply by walking.”

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