Category: Awakened Lifestyles Written by Semele Xerri Views: 1798
We all have unhealthy patterns of behaviour that we’re prone to fall into, and it’s frightening how quickly these can take hold and become routine. Even when we’ve spent years working to release them, I was reminded recently just how easily and insidiously they can worm their way back in.
I’m usually very careful about keeping balance in my life and setting aside plenty of time for self-care. When your job is to help others then you have to make sure you’re in the best shape possible to do that as effectively as you can. But the changes wrought in our lives by COVID took away several of my established self-care rituals.
The lengthy lockdown and slow re-opening of close contact businesses meant that I was unable to go for my regular massage. As someone who works at a computer a fair amount of the day, my back, neck and shoulders are vulnerable to storing tension. My let off steam, loosen up, and play sessions through theatre and dance were all on hold for months. Finally, we were unable to travel so holidays, even mini long weekend ones, in the camper van weren’t possible. We did have one week away in early August and although it was lovely it certainly wasn’t restful, as we careered around the country visiting family before restrictions were reinstated. I had a bit of a warning nudge then, I remember, as the muscles in my back seized up down the left side of my spine. My physicality was already crying out for relaxation!
As an Aries I am by nature a “do-er” both physically and mentally, and it’s taken me many years to refine the art of be-ing. So being grounded at home, with none of my usual scheduled respites available, I began to fill my time with more and more appointments. The need was great and my empath’s heart responded to it, stretching then breaking the well-established boundaries that contained my work to particular days and certain times. I didn’t really notice while it was happening, because the space and time was there, so even evenings and weekends were no longer out of bounds.
By early November my neck and shoulders were absolutely rigid with tension, so bad that I was holding them against the pain and exacerbating the problem. My burdened body was literally locked in protest before I recognised that the old default of overdoing it and not being able to say no to people had well and truly kicked into life again. “Well, about time!” my inner voice exhaled. I checked my calendar, which tends to fill up as I go along rather than being blocked a long way in advance, and thanked the universe that so far there was nothing yet booked for the following week. I blocked it out quickly with a sigh of relief.
I had to chuckle though, as apparently I couldn’t quite be trusted and left to my own devices quite yet – ah how well Spirit knows me. Just as I’d finished posting on my business Facebook page that I would be absent for a week, my computer shut down and the recharger port broke! Minutes later, two messages came through asking for appointments. Would I have given in and taken them? I have to confess that I probably would have, as I was by now deeply immersed into helper mode. Which is precisely why the option was promptly removed by my spiritual team who, in a master stroke, decided my overworked machine needed a repair holiday!
So with work now securely at bay, it was time to address my struggling body. I’d tried all the alternative remedies I could to help ease the neck and shoulder tension but nothing was having any long-lasting effect. So I remembered something I’d read a long time ago, that sometimes all that’s needed is a brief relief from pain so that the body can begin to relax and unwind. You just need to break the cycle. For the first time in about 12 years, and not without a tinge of regret but knowing it was absolutely the right thing to do, I took some paracetamol. Within an hour, I began to feel a soothing and softening that meant I could begin to let go of the “holding” pattern that was embedded in my muscles. Soaks in a hot bath (I’m a swift shower person by habit), regular massages from my very accommodating George (who almost wore out his fingers) with rosemary, juniper and lavender-laced oil, frequent self-Reiki, and gentle targeted stretching several times a day, gradually eased the strain a little more every day.
In the space that opened up, I also revisited a nagging sense at the back of my mind (an intuition I’d bizarrely ignored, but such is the power of old patterns) that my technical setup for work was not ideal either for posture or efficiency. So I ordered a laptop stand which would put the screen at eye level and an external keyboard which meant I didn’t have to hold my arms up to type. I also commandeered the spare emergency laptop for taking all my appointment and teaching calls. So now I don’t have to move everything between rooms depending on whether I’m writing, doing admin or working with clients. It makes my life so much easier and ergonomic.
So what have I learned and gained from all this, apart from the bonus of a vastly improved working environment? Well, as I always say, healing is a lifetime’s journey. It’s not something you undertake once, congratulate yourself on a job well done, then allow yourself to slump into complacency. Healing is about being vigilant, checking in regularly with yourself to see where you’re at so you can catch those imbalances, preferably before they cause too much of an issue. It means knowing yourself, your mental and emotional weaknesses and tendencies, the limitations of your body, so intimately that you notice the moment they become active. It’s about understanding that sometimes the only way you can make room for that noticing is to simply stop, even for just an hour; break the cycle you’re in, so you can feel into exactly where and why the pain is. Healing includes knowing when, and being humble and open-minded enough, to seek the appropriate help from someone else or some external source, even if it’s not what you usually would do. The first law of healing is remembering that if you want to be the best version of yourself so you can truly be of service to your loved ones, your community, and the world, your responsibility is always to prioritise your own well-being.
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