Learning From Sloths!
Last blog I mentioned I had been getting reminders regarding wise self-care from sloths! This may sound very strange but stay with me as I share my Sloth story. A couple of weeks ago I was doing some preparation for a class I teach fortnightly. I came across the timely ‘self-care, intuitive listening to your body’s needs’ material by Meggan Watterson. As you know I have been sharing this helpful practice in recent blogs.
Meggan was referencing Sloth as one of the so called ‘seven deadly sins in Christianity’. She said the ‘seven deadly sins’ can be more helpfully thought of as the ‘Seven Powers of the Ego’. She refers to them as the 'seven ingredients of what goes into being human, which reads like a food label for the ego'. Meggan’s more helpful spin on these 7 are ...........
Discernment is key, awareness of these habits allows us to practice tuning into the ultimate power of our wise soul, our 'best friend self' to ask my favourite simple question - what does my body and mind need in this moment?
Also, in Buddhism there are what are called meditation obstacles, or things that can be hindrances to our ability to meditate! These include slothfulness! The others are desire, ill-will, restlessness and remorse and sceptical doubt.
So Sloths abound! However, I think that maybe they have been somewhat misrepresented and misunderstood. Ironically, I had many reminders of this coming up. I thought the references to Sloths was very interesting and wanted to learn more about them.
Amazingly the next day I was on my way to the Post Office to post ‘covid care’ packages to my kids. A couple of years ago my friend Wendy had given a lovely little wise book by Sarah Ford entitled ‘Be a Llama and Stay a Little Calmer’. It had lots of funny illustrations and wise advice for me. There were other books in the series including, 'Be a Unicorn and live life on the bright side". I had been enjoying getting these from our local bookshop and sending them to others, including my kids.
I was one book short, so on my way to the Post Office and I rang Jeffery's Booksvto get a copy of the Llama book. Beth informed me they were out of stock and only had one Sarah Ford book entitled ‘Be a Sloth and when in doubt just chill Out’! No kidding I was so amazed, I had no idea that there was a Sloth book in the series. Clearly, I needed to read it.
Then another crazy thing happened. While waiting in the Post Office cue staring at me was an A4 notebook with a picture of a sloth with the title ‘Sloth Lover’s Club'. How funny! Again, clearly, I must have something to learn from Sloths! I purchased the notebook and have been enjoying using it ever since! I have learnt so much from Sarah Ford’s series of books. In particular I think the Sloth book and the ‘Be a Llama and Stay a little Calmer’ book were both written for me. The final Sloth reminder in this saga came in the form of "Sloth Yoga Calendar I was gifted from my friend Lorraine.
So some things I have learnt and am doing my best to practice from Sarah Ford's little "Be a Sloth and when in doubt, just chill out' book and my other sloth sources are to ........
The final Sloth reminder in this saga came in the form of an hilarious and wise 'Sloth Yoga Calendar' I was gifted from my friend Lorraine.
So some things I have learnt and am doing my best to practice from Sarah Ford's little "Be a Sloth and when in doubt, just chill out' boo'k and my other sloth sources are to ........
To Slow down, calm down, don't worry and don't hurry
1. Best foot forward....Slow, Sure and Fearless.
2. Listen to others then make up your own mind
3. Things will aways seem better in the morning after a sleep
4. Don't let anything go to waste - Reduce, Recycle, Repair.
5. Be kind to the environment and equally, be kind to yourself and others too.
5. Take life at your own pace - Live life in the slow lane
The Covid Mottos I have been saying to myself include.........
'No Rushing' (thanks for the reminder Neil)
'You have plenty of time'
'One thing at a time' (thanks Kate P). I am doing my best to remember not to attempt to fit in lots of events into one day. When I forget to do this I find myself rushing around and not able to be fully present for any of them!
6. No more busyness or striving
Instead be plentiful with activity that is joyful and kind. (thanks for the reminder Monique) And remember to take a well eared REST AND RELAX to maintain your joyful activity!
In the words of Sarah Ford 'Sloth believes in enjoying the now and embracing whatever the future brings (after a little nap)
7. Be true to yourself!
As my favourite quote from Sarah Ford says 'Sloth is always true to himself. He doesn't do exercise (because that is not what his body needs) but he does look after himself - he eats well, sleeps well and is tune with his mind and his body(tunes in an listens to his wise best friend self for what he needs in any moment) in all its hairy entirety.
Work with kindness and curiosity around helpful self-care habits using ……..
My favourite ABC practice to tune into the body’s or mind's needs in any moment
If you can do something about a situation - do it and don't worry
And if you can't do anything about it - don't do anything and don't worry!
Necessary Best Friend Truths!
I have continued to explore tuning into and listening to the integrative wisdom and truth the body has to share regarding the body's needs in any moment. This blog I wanted, to share a couple of times I forgot to tune in and instead let my ego lead the way. And how my intuitive body kindly taught me a necessary truth, just like a 'best friend' would.
I forgot to use my favourite ABC practice to tune into the body’s needs
My Blood Bank Lesson
I had a near fainting experience at the Blood Bank on Cup Day. Ironically it was when I was making an appointment for my next donation!
Interestingly, it was a timely lesson about ignoring the ultimate wisdom of the body. I woke up that morning feeling a little light headed, but I forgot to tune into what my body needed and decided to ignore it and go to the blood bank anyway. I had a light breakfast and probably not enough to drink (more not tuning in) Thankfully I did decide to drive, rather than ride my bike!. I arrived at the blood bank and just scraped in for weight and haemoglobin - I was still not listening to my body and what it needed (to go home, have something to eat and to rest!). I again forgot to tune in, ignored my body's needs and donated blood.
I sat down for a drink and something to eat after the donation got up to make my next appointment and felt very woozy! I must have looked a bit spaced out because within seconds blood bank staff rushed from everywhere!
Eventually I was allowed to drive home where spent the rest of the day recovering and finally listening to my body's need for rest, food, liquid and iron.
Ironically the next day my mum had asked me how I had spent Cup Day. I replied 'on the couch after giving blood early in the morning'. She wisely said 'When will you learn to listen to your body Maree?' A good question, that maybe could have been phrased a little more kindly. Again a great reminder to work with kindness and curiosity when we make so-called mistakes and forget to listen to our wise, best friend selves for real 'self care'!
My falling over lesson
I fell over on my plod around the block way back in March (not an uncommon experience for me!). I wanted to fit a quick plod in before teaching yoga and was rushing home for the class when I tripped up. I now understand I was not tuning into my body and its' need to 'slow down' and not rush. I was tempted to give myself a hard time, but instead decided to remain curious regarding the lesson.
Some time later I discovered the fall resulted in a hamstring injury which has been a great reminder to me to listen to my body.
To aid my recovery I have again needed to listen to my body and to my wise Physio friend Caroline to remain active and to strengthen in safe ways. I have slowed down my running (from a plod to a slow plod) and have been doing what my husband calls 'Cyril Rioli' (an Aussie Footballer with a hamstring injury) style running which involves small paces, core engagementd and pelvic tilt. (also very similar to the Cliff Young style).
I am doing my best not to rush, generally (it is not what my body needs). And I have been especially aware not to rush to fit a fun in and to listen to my body to ask whether a run is what my body needs. And while running I continue to tune into my body's needs at any moment and make the necessary adjustments as I plod along. I am sharing this in yoga too and we practice tuning into our body and its needs it any moment and to let go of any striving. It is much more fun and my wise body constantly reminds me to let go, relax, slow down and smile!
My current mantra to stop the rushing and striving 'Relax Maree you have plenty of time.'
When I am able to explore my wants and needs with awareness and curiosity, I am able to be aware to tune into my body for what is needed rather than be bossed around by the tricky task master who is so often punitive and demanding with its wants. It takes practice to get used to tuning into and listening to that best friend who is always on our side. For me it is well worth the time and effort. It is an important way I can look after myself and practice true self-care in order to be more available to connect and care for others.
As you know I love this quote from Sarah Ford's book ‘Be Like a Sloth and When In doubt, just chill out'. "Sloth is always true to himself. He doesn’t do exercise (because that is not what his body needs), but he does look after himself – he eats well, sleeps well and is tune with his mind and his body in all its hairy entirety.’ I will share more of my amazing sloth teachings next blog!
Have fun being grateful and tuning into your body's needs in any moment and truly looking after yourself, to allow you to be available for others.
More Best Friend Tuning In!
Gratitude and discernment (what to give up and what to take up, in Buddhist lingo) are my two favourite and main practices these days. Of late, I have been on an interesting excursion with discernment regarding tuning into what my body and mind need in any moment. This discernment for me has been about learning to ‘take up’ - listening to my wise, intuitive ‘best friend’ self for what I need in any moment (the wise one my left shoulder) and what to ‘give-up’ – listening to the punitive, critical task master, (the one on my right shoulder).
As you know in the last couple of blogs I have been exploring this in terms of the body’s basic self-care needs for nutrition, balanced activity and rest. In yoga the energy centre related to our basic self-care needs is the base or Muladhara Chakra or energy centre. The idea is that by taking care of our basic needs for nutrition, balanced non-harmful activity and rest we have a firm base of support, a full tank or a grounded foundation so we can be of benefit to others and have plenty to share. I am not able to be of benefit to anyone if I am tired, malnourished, busy or stressed.
So, with the help of some wise advice from ……….
My favourite ABC practice to tune into the body’s needs
So, in this blog I wanted to share some times this fortnight I have remembered to tune into my wise best friend. In our next blog I will tell you about some times I forgot and I learned that, when I don’t listen to my wise intuitive body sometimes it teaches me a necessary truth (just like a Best Friend would).
It is important to remember to work with our habits, wants and needs with kindness and curiosity. Habits like ………
As I am learning explore my wants and needs with this awareness and curiosity, I am more able to be aware to tune into my body for what is needed rather than be bossed around by the tricky task master who is so often punitive and demanding with its wants. And, as we will explore next blog, if I ignore the body's wisdom it will teach me a necessary truth, just like a best friend would!
As I am continuing to learn, it takes practice to get used to tune into and listen to that best friend who is always has our best interests at heart. So, no need to be punitive, or for blame, or to be judgmental or give ourselves a hard time when we forget.
I am learning to listen to my kind encouraging best friend for guidance. Last blog I explored my morning coffee habit as an example of being aware of my, often unconscious coffee habit and tuning into my body and listening for what it needs, rather than being driven by the unconscious habit of the ego. This fortnight I have been using curiosity to play with my snacking habit.
My snacking habit.
I returned back to work and was close to finished when I thought about having a cup of tea and a snack. I remembered there was a block of chocolate in the pantry. Again, I did my ABC and asked what my body needed. Yes, a cup of tea and a couple of pieces of chocolate was what was needed. A thought came to mind, ‘you could have more of that chocolate!’ Amazingly I remembered to ask again what my body needed – a break was the answer, so I took a 5 minute shavassana instead of eating the rest of the chocolate (which I could have easily done, and felt sick).
This for me is about awareness and discernment, learning to tune into my wise intuitive 'best friend' to direct a healthy choice of what is needed and best for me. So, no need for ‘punitive task master or fake friend’. This discernment or what to ‘take up’ or what to ‘give up’ as healthy habits that promote balanced self-care in order to be available for others, is a work in progress and a practice I am playing with, with curiosity.
And I make lots of so-called mistakes (aka learning opportunities). There are plenty of times I don’t listen to the intuitive needs of my body and go with the unhelpful choice. And that is ok too, as a learner mistakes are necessary learning opportunities. My best friend self is always kind, encouraging and truthful. More about forgetting and learning next blog!
As I said last blog, for me it is well worth the time and effort to tune into my wise, intuitive best friend self in any moment. It is an important way I can look after myself in order to be more available to connect and care for others.
I am feeling very grateful for everything in my life and having finished this blog (with no snacking). I am now off to have some fun in the garden.