Today, we want to focus on the two wings of mindful self-care:
being with and working with
Nowadays, we can hyper-focus on “doing the work,” when we think about personal growth and self-care. With all of the information and resources out there that encourage us to hustle to achieve our goals, push through discomfort, confront our past, and correct our future, we can get overwhelmed with messages of doing doing doing.
I know in my experience, the doing can distract from deep reflection-
What do I really need right now? Am I on the right path?
That’s where it’s important to pause and introduce the practice of being with.
Reflection and rest are essential ingredients in compassionate self-care. If you’ve ever felt burned out or overwhelmed, you might have experienced a period of deep rest and forced reflection. Maybe at that time you felt some uncomfortable emotions and shame around not giving in to the “doing doing doing” mind.
Being with is the practice of quieting the mind and being fully present with whatever comes up, even the difficult stuff.
When we give ourselves permission to experience the full range of our emotions (without judgment!) we are able to more easily get to the root of what is truly weighing on our heart. Rather than distracting the mind with to-do lists, we open up fully to the present moment and what is below the surface.
Being with may involve meditating or taking a long, quiet walk where you can tune into what you’re feeling in your body and mind. The most important part of being with is remaining unconditionally friendly and compassionate with whatever arises.
To be fair, there is wisdom in distraction. It’s our mind’s way of protecting us from feeling bad, but it’s not always the best way to resolve and move forward. An important aspect of “The Work,” is inviting in these feelings with true compassion, rather than immediately turning to scrolling, eating, binge-watching TV, whatever you find is your go-to distraction.
If this is intimidating for you, you’re not alone. It seems like everyone is struggling in some way with a distraction addiction. The good news is that we don’t have to remain that way. Making a commitment to self-discovery means that you are willing to uncover these parts of the mind, these habits, and hopefully replace them with something more nourishing.
For example, when a difficult emotion arises (anger, fear, grief, etc), take a moment to let it in instead of pushing it down. Instead of immediately turning to comfortable habits, welcome the emotion in with curiosity.
Get quiet and think, what brought this up for me?
Sometimes we are so identified with the story or the emotional trigger, we aren’t able to see the root of the feeling for what it is- something that needs extra attention and care.
Be gentle in this practice, and take it slow. Get quiet for 5 minutes a day this week, and see what might need some gentle attention. Be extra mindful of your tendency for distraction, and maybe replace some of those habits with meditation, journaling (see our recent blog post about journal prompts to support this practice), restorative yoga, or unplugging outdoors. Notice what stirs beneath the surface mind, and meet it with friendliness.
Just like a bird needs both wings to fly, being with works best with it's sister practice: working with.
This wing involves mindful action and effort. While our first step identifies the work, this one is an invitation to set goals, gather support, and work through those stagnant stories and limiting beliefs. Specifically, working with invites us to dig a little deeper into the nature of our mind. We may recognize that it would be supportive for us to speak with a professional regarding our mental health, or explore different ways of working with our emotions like yoga or art therapy.
The most important thing here is respecting the balance between the two wings. Just like yin and yang, we have to find a happy medium between the masculine doing energy, and the feminine receiving energy. Too much of one may seem like it is good for our healing, but eventually we end up burned-out or unmotivated.
This week, recognize the days that may call for some rest and reflection. Even if you're only able to slow down for a few moments in the morning, use that time to check in with yourself in a real, compassionate way. Notice what may be calling for your attention, and decide what the best plan would be to start to accept, work through, and begin healing.
Let me know how it goes :)