I am heading off on a train trip to a yoga retreat this coming week. I am very excited and am greatly looking forward to an opportunity for some balanced self-care. It has taken a bit of work to get to this point as I have had to release some unhelpful habits around taking this break.
The opportunity for this break came up and I went through the 'undeserving' and 'deserving' scenarios, neither of which are helpful. Firstly I had that critical task master going through the undeserving soundtrack, with ideas like "somehow I don't deserve to have a break, I should be staying home to do what is needed here, and other people need it more than me'. The truth is me having the opportunity for a break is not stopping anyone else from taking a break and most likely it will make me more available to others and nicer to be around.
The next scenario that task master came up with involved feeling 'deserving' with lots of justification and entitlement related to why I should have a break and that I was entitled to it because I worked so hard, etc. Neither of these two ways of thinking about taking a holiday felt right and left me with feelings of guilt, entitlement and unworthy. My funny mind, all sorts of habits replaying! So how can I bring a more helpful, compassionate understanding to this situation?
Turning up the kind, encouraging friend voice, helped me to realise that when opportunities like taking a break (or any gift) arise it is much more helpful to receive them with appreciation. They are beautiful gifts that I can gratefully receive without the need to feel either deserving or undeserving. When I am able to receive a gift like a holiday with gratitude, I can use it as an opportunity to practice that balanced self care, to enjoy myself and to replenish.
My friend and mentor Shadi introduced me to a book entitled the '5 Love Languages' by Gary Chapman. An interesting concept in the book is the 'invisible love tank'. Chapman proposes that each of us has an invisible emotional love tank and when it is empty we have nothing to give and tend to misbehave, be critical and unkind. I believe it is our responsibility to learn to fill our own tank so that we can have something to give. And to be available to connect meaningfully with others! I have used this idea to help me appreciate and understand the need for my break.
I find it helpful to think of my 'train yoga retreat holiday' as an opportunity to top up my emotional tank with the 3 R's, Rest, Relax and Refuel. I need to bring awareness as to why I am doing this though. I am doing it or not, not doing it because somehow I am deserving or undeserving!
I am gratefully receiving it as a gift, as an opportunity to refuel so that I have something to share with others and so that I am nicer to be around for others and myself too. A gift is not something that is deserved, a gift comes from love. Who wants to be with a grumpy deserving, guilty, entitled, resentful or undeserving inner voice? I don't! And also I know that when I am running on empty and scraping the bottom of an empty tank I am not so easy to be around either. It is not much fun for me or others.
So instead, in appreciation for all I do and this opportunity, I am taking a refuel break to gift myself what I need to keep doing what I love to do and to be available for others. And I am so excited and appreciative.
We can gift ourselves all sorts of things in appreciation for ourselves and all we do with that awareness around the reason behind the gift - to replenish our emotional tank so that we lots to share with others. Ideas include a massage, time in nature, a walk, meditation, yoga, a 5 minute shavasana, reading a book, exercise, a cup of coffee, a holiday or anything that brings you pleasure and fills your emotional tank so that you have lots to share with others.
BIG THANKS to you all! Have a great fortnight!