I've been thinking a lot about my relationship to self-care, especially since starting to lead our group cleanse. Although I'm not doing the full cleanse at this time for various reasons, I am choosing to eat mostly vegetables, alkaline foods, and lots of huge salads. I love the feeling of taking greater care of myself through diet, supplements, exercise, and other practices like oiling my skin after bathing.
All week in classes, I taught about creating the balance between taking a stand for ourselves and self-appreciation (inspired by one of the Hendricks' grads, Matt Chappman). It's been a great inquiry for me in regards to my health. What do I stand for with my health? Where do I put my foot down and say "no" to certain foods or activities, yes to others, and where am I more lenient or easygoing?
For me, there's something empowering and freeing about making a commitment. Then I know where I stand and I don't have to be in limbo. Like when I'm cleansing, I just commit to only alkaline foods, no meat, no dairy, no sugars, no salt, no processed food. I'm not tempted by other foods- at least for that time period, because of my commitment. And instead of feeling restricted by that, I actually feel a sense of ease.
Appreciation becomes a great balance to the discipline of commitment. I appreciate my commitment, I appreciate myself for taking care of myself, and this appreciation softens the intensity of my discipline. Otherwise, discipline can feel too rigid and tight. It's also super helpful if my commitment waivers. If I fall out of discipline in some way, then instead of beating myself up, I just get back on the horse and recommit. In Hendricks' speak. We call it a drift when we fall off track with our commitments, and a shift when we get back on. So if you drift, then you shift again. Simple.
I've been thinking about all of this in light of how challenging it can be to create new healthy habits for ourselves. When I researched it, I found that it can take anywhere from 18 to over 100 days to create a new habit, depending on the person, with an average of 66 days. So that means discipline with a new activity is really important. We have to practice something over a period of time in order for it to "take." (In yoga, abhyasa is crucial for results, and it means consistent practice over a long period of time. But it must be balanced with letting go of attachments - vairagya).
I think this is really true for many new yoga students. So many people get excited after the Beginners' course and sign up for a series. Then they come once or twice and we often don't see them again. I feel sad about that. I really want people to integrate yoga into their lives, but it's up to them. They have to make that commitment to themselves to keep showing up, even when they feel resistant. It's this continuous practice, over several weeks, that will create that new habit for them. Then it's not a question of going or not, it's just built into their lives, like eating 3 meals a day or taking a shower. It becomes a commitment and they start structuring it into their schedules.
What are you committed to? How do you take a stand for your health?