There’s an interesting movement taking place. For many years most people backed away from self-care since it was viewed as a luxury. We had been conditioned that productivity and making money was the priority, since taking time out for ourselves didn’t earn our boss money, it was viewed as lazy to shame us into keeping up with the Joneses. We have recently shifted into the space where Self-Care is prioritized. We see this with serene graphics encouraging us to breathe and take a bath. We see it almost used to guilt us into getting ourselves together through self-work and self-awareness books, on-line courses, retreats and for the first time we’re being told to make it all about us and I worry about how far we'll take that...
Community Self-Care What’s That?
Early civilization was community based. We had to rely upon one another to survive. Want to eat today? You better hope your neighbor in the next cave took down a large enough animal to share with everyone else, and even if he didn’t he would likely eat less just to share with his neighbor. We worked together to feed, nurture, support one another and what was your concern was also mine…
Now most of us are lucky to live in our own separate space, with our own individual lives and set of problems. If we want to eat, most of us are fortunate enough to do so without hitting up our neighbors pantry. We don’t even have to talk to anyone, we can communicate through text, or an email. I worry that our social skills are diminishing. There's so much to be gained from hearing the tone of someone's voice, to observing body language, and even greater learning how to solve conflicts face to face. Every morning we wake up and repeat affirmations that begin with “I..”
I don’t have a problem with finally taking time for ourselves, but this new found space has a bit of a slippery slope...
Some of Your Favorite Self-Care Practices Were Practiced in Community
While studying Thai Massage in Thailand I was taught that Thai Massage came to be partly out of necessity, because many people held jobs which were physically demanding. Thai massage was done in the homes by family members or neighbors to keep their loved one pain-free and able to work. While studying with my Thai Massage Master it wasn’t unusual for a local farmer or Monk to show up, walking with a limp or a catch in his back. My Thai Master would stop whatever we were doing, and work on this person, his community. We all sat on the floor around him, observing his work and his support for his community. This moment was the most important part of the lesson. It was beautiful to witness.
What about other forms of self-care? Meditation isn’t new, it dates 1500 BCE in India and can also be traced back to several other countries dating BC. Breathwork is a very popular modality at the moment. Breathwork can be traced to many different cultures and has been an ancient practice for thousands of years. What about massage? Massage has been around for 5,000 years. Yoga? 5,000-10,000 years old! All of these practiced, taught and participated in and passed down for the community. Children were participating in these practices, it was a part of their life. Though some of these were able to be done individually, they were frequently done in groups. I have to assume they understood the sacredness and the healing that occurs when folks gather with a likeminded goal of health, wellness and inner peace. There's power in that type of energy!
So now we have all of these ancient healing modalities, polished up and marketed as if they are brand new. They aren’t new, we’re just willing to utilize them- and in my opinion, out of necessity, we need these more than ever! But we’re missing one crucial component, community. We also need one another, and we need to be more mindful of how we self-care.
I’m passionate about self-care, I want you to self-care, it’s literally my business! So yes, do self-care, get curious about yourself, read the books, learn to meditate, learn how to be more emotionally intelligent, AND can we also incorporate this into betterment and participation of our community?
How Can We Incorporate Community Into Our Self-Care Practices?
Are we able to view self-care as not just about us, not just our street, not just our block, our city, our county, our state, what about our entire country and its people?
We can do this by being intentional about where we put our money. Equality is an important topic, and there are ways we can uplift our entire community. Can we make an effort to support brands from BIPOC, AAPI folks and our LGTBQ+ community. We can research the people behind the products we purchase. We can even educate ourselves about all the teaching of yoga, not just the minutes we spend on a mat to feel better. Are we listening and respecting Indigenous people who have asked that we as non-Indigenous people refrain from using sage and palo santo? Can we research the source from which our crystal in our pockets, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and decor were mined? If we did we may learn of a very deadly, greedy and dangerous market. Rather than spend money at large chain stores who are really cashing in on the popularity of spirituality and self-care at the moment, can we shop local, independent, Etsy? And if we are service providers who offer classes, courses and services, are we making sure that we are creating a safe space for all? And are we making sure our products are accessible for all?
So I Have to Ask
Are we able to self-care more intentionally? Are we able to expand our lens from just focusing on ourselves to include our community? Can we take care of ourselves, improve ourselves while also nurturing our community? Are we able to share the care?