The Body is a Temple – Let’s Treat it Like a Gift from God
The theme of “no pain no gain”, “beauty is pain” and many other (in my opinion) misguided lines of thought run rampant in American/western culture. We often ignore the messages from our body and attempt to trick the body to comply with the dictates of the mind. This can lead to several types of problems, as the body is actually a soft animal and not a machine (although the way we use our joints can be beneficially approached by thinking that way… more on that in another post). The body has it’s own way of knowing and is an equal partner to the mind when balanced in a healthy organism. I am a fan of healthy physical challenge, so I’m not suggesting that we all remove any elements of challenge and growth from life. I do believe that many times, the ratio of challenging practices to restorative practices in a person’s life are not as harmoniously balanced to promote health as they could be, skewing more heavily toward challenging, (and if not given proper counter balance) depleting activities.
My inspiration to share these ways to slow down and make space to show your self how much you care came from a recent home cleaning session. After cleaning out the hall/linen closet near my bathroom, I found a hand written note with this sequence of self care rituals that I had written after attending an ayurveda workshop. I decided that I would type it up, laminate it and post it on the inside of the bathroom closet door for ease of access. Why stop there? If I can use this practice as a regular reminder to shower myself with love and appreciation then other people might enjoy adopting some of this practice, too!
Much of this list could be considered variations on the Ayurvedic practice of dinacharya, or daily self care rituals. While this list is pretty long for most of us to practice in entirety on a daily basis (I know I would have to start waking up much earlier to make this all happen every day… and that’s not super likely as I do love me some sleep), it is simple enough to choose a few elements that do feel manageable each day. Another favorite indulgence of mine is to pick a day (weekend, day off, etc) and block off a large chunk of the morning with the intention of a full and relaxing few hours dedicated to lovingly caring for my physical body.
Today I want to share some of these restorative and nourishing practices that we can all start to make time for today. Making time is really just about honoring something as a priority. If you have time to watch TV or engage with social media, you have time for healthy self care habits. This list is no way comprehensive. There are infinite ways to honor and love the body. I believe the most important part of this practice (and any practice for that matter) is intention. You can begin to incorporate and intentional approach to the self care morning ritual that you are already doing… for example, acknowledging that you are brushing your teeth with loving care to keep your mouth and your self healthy… because you love yourself and you enjoy honoring your body with the feeling of a clean and well cared for mouth. By simply operating from a place of love and awareness rather than rushing mindlessly through some sort of check list, you have changed the nature of something that you are already doing to a much more powerful and meaningful practice. This doesn’t cost anything, take any more time or require any special equipment.
Wake gently (early) – No loud, blaring alarms here. Soothing music or light could be some pleasant choices.
Offer some prayer/intention of gratitude for this day before even getting out of bed.
Let out/feed dogs (this is my list, so feel free to add your own variations like this here… the ritual “feeding of the dogs” isn’t one that I’ve encountered in any study of Ayurveda yet, but it’s a must in my personal routine).
Prepare the sacred space of the bathroom – clean up any clutter, light a candle or any other way you like to make a space feel special.
Drink water – traditionally room temperature water that has been sitting in a copper cup over night… I opt for warm water heated in my tea kettle… sometimes with lemon squeezed into it, sometimes plain.
Rinse eyes with eyewash of choice (there are some specific Ayurvedic blends available for this… most days I just use a sterile saline solution) and practice eye movement exercises.
Wash face/rinse mouth.
Go to the bathroom.
Scrape tongue (you can buy a tongue scraper specifically for this purpose, or use an inverted spoon… just be sure to rinse and wash the spoon after).
Use Neti pot (available online and for your convenience at Spark Wellness retail shop) to irrigate sinuses.
Self massage (abyhanga) with edible (non-rancid) oil (coconut is my preferences) to body and face.
Drop of same oil as above into nostrils/ears.
Apply hydrosols or essential oils as desired so you’re feelin fresh!
Gently dry off.
Physical practice (yoga/asana, dance, walk, Pilates, any other movement you like)
Do you have any questions about what you see here? Do you practice any of these self care activities as part of your body care routine already? What are you excited to try? Please keep the conversation going in the comment section!
For more information about dinacharya and the spiritual practice of honoring the body/mind/spirit through physical self care rituals, check out The Daily Routine by Vasant Lad or even better, seek out the services of an Ayurvedic practitioner near you for specific lifestyle suggestions for you and your unique make up. If you live in the Twin Cities, I would be happy to give you some specific recommendations for practitioners in the area.
Be Well and Have Fun,
Martha DeSante DC, CYT