Ancient texts and modern philosophers speak of our universe as a totality — an organic whole.
“The parts are not separate, we are all existing in a togetherness: the trees, the mountains, the people, the birds, the stars, howsoever far away they may appear - don't be deceived by the appearance - they are all interlinked, all bridged. Even the smallest blade of grass is connected to the farthest star, and it is as significant as the greatest sun. Nothing is insignificant, nothing is smaller than anything else. The part represents the whole, just as the seed contains the whole” (Osho, Philosophia Ultima).
Today, this holistic vision is not one commonly embraced or understood, and I believe it is why self care is often so mistaken, and under-appreciated.
As a busy corporate 10 years ago, I was juggling multiple and competing priorities, none of which were ever my own self care. Self preservation, possibly, but self care wasn’t part of the narrative when I had deadlines to meet, travel schedules to manage and targets to achieve. In many cases, even leaving my desk for lunch felt "wrong". Taking work home was standard and I got great at multitasking — which really means doing a lot of things not well. “Me-time” looked like takeaway food, and Friday drinks were the only de-stress after a hectic week of corporate life. There were the occasional health kicks or gym spurts, but these were usually fuelled by fear related to a special event where I needed to “impress”. I couldn’t see the return on investment on self care, yet I was barely surviving, and certainly not thriving.
Fast forward to today: I see self care as so critically important, because I have learned that everything starts with — you. Your entire life starts with you, and within you, and revolves around you. This isn’t a self-absorbed view, because the reality is that if you cease to exist, your world ceases to exist. You are the centre of your own universe. And in appreciation of the “interconnectedness” of all things, it is the relationship you have with yourself that sets the tone for every relationship you have: that is, the part represents the whole.
Although it might seem as if this article is escalating quickly, I believe it is only possible to connect with life as deeply as you have connected with yourself. But how do you build a relationship with yourself? That’s where self care comes in. Self care is a platform for cultivating a connection with yourself. Think of self care as a date. It is a chance to have a conversation with yourself, to get to know yourself a little better, to vibe yourself out. It’s getting to know your body and form, and your inner essence. Whether it be over a picnic for one, or a pedicure, self care is an opportunity to dive between the inside and outside of who you are. Self care is the way you get to know yourself.
Here’s where things get more interesting: self care is related to the relationship you have with yourself, but then becomes an expression of your relationship to the world. Your relationship with the world shapes your reality. A positive, loving relationship with yourself can be reflected in an outward experience of life that is positive and loving — "so within, so without" — meaning that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. It informs your entire experience. So you certainly want to get that inner relationship right.
Self care is how you take your power back. The practice of self care brings your attention back to your self, so you can analyse your feelings, pay attention to the sensations in the body, feel your breath, engage in self-examination and survey your situation and surroundings from a higher perspective. It helps you take back control of your thoughts, actions and behaviour. It helps you create new stories and new patterns. When you truly honour your needs through self care, you step into your authentic self. Through self care, we connect with out truth, our values and our identity. By connecting with our truth, we step into the driver's seat of our lives, we can start curating how we wish to feel, what we wish to show up in our lives, and what we wish to give our attention to.
Beauty is a byproduct of a healthy self care routine. When you start taking care of yourself, you start feeling better, looking better and you start attracting better into your reality. Beauty comes from being aligned with our authentic self. Through self care we connect with this inner wisdom, and we can channel our truth, our highest nature, the very best version of who we are. This is how we shine. This is also how we tune into a higher state of living. Your inner world sets the dial for what kind of reality you are tuned into. Have you experienced being in a state of flow, where things going on around you become easy and light — it’s as if everything is coming up roses, and nothing can bring you down. On the other hand, have you experienced “one of those days” that starts off crappy, and found yourself frustrated over crappy thing after crappy thing that kept showing up? Your personal frequency is like a radio station, and is — despite what we might wish to blame on others or external factors — completely selected by you. This “tuning in” is essentially set by the relationship you hold with yourself and the world. It tells the world what level you want to play and, it tells others how to treat you. It informs your entire experience. Are you starting to see why self care is so important?
Self care is a also divine responsibility for those around you: you must take good care of yourself if you wish to be of service to others. The better you care for yourself, the more you are able to be a light for those around you. The greatest gift that you can give those around you is the best, happiest and most authentic version of you. Self care isn’t selfish. If everyone was able to start with caring for themselves, and effecting their internal environment and external environment, this has a ripple effect on the people around them: their community, their city, their town their country. People will start benefiting from it, seeing it and being inspired by it the more you practice your own self care. Self care creates a distinct difference in you, and the people in your life will feel it.
The result of your self care are your communication with the world. Through self care, I believe our planet can experience a huge positive shift. Life is better and more beautiful. And that all starts with you.
— Victoria Fox