Self-care begins with what we call these three pillars of health. They are food and sleep and how we spend our vital energies. So let’s think of food first. We can think of these pillars in light of those causes of disease.
Think about how babies react to things. Babies are pulling everything in their mouths – is this food? Is this food? Is this food? They do it and they gain an understanding of their world. It allows them to gain wisdom. If we get the result that we enjoy, we tend to do it again even if it was unwholesome conjunction.
The first bite of the food may give a clear indication that this is wholesome or unwholesome conjunction of my senses. There is a choice than to take a second bite. The second bite comes from wisdom. At this point, use your wisdom to generate health or use your wisdom to generate disease. Your health is in your hands.
Our senses tend to pull us towards those things that bring great pleasure or intellect tends to draw us towards those things which generate health and we choose with every bite to follow our senses or follow our intellect. There are some wonderful occasions when our senses and our intellect go in the same direction and we can fully enjoy all that wonderful food that’s in front of us. With a look at food as a pillar of health, it’s not though just about what we are eating, it’s also about how we are eating. Do I eat in front of the television? Do I eat in front of the computer? Am I carrying on heated discussion while I eat? Do I have business lunches? All of these can disturb my digestive process. If my digestive process is disturbed, it doesn’t matter if I eat the healthiest food in the world, it will not be digested well. So when I think of my pillar of health, of my food I want to consider the foods and pudding on my plates. The environment in which I am eating, and the state of mind that I have during that time that I am eating. All of these play a key role in my digestive process.
The second pillar of health is sleep and here we look at the quantity and quality of sleep. Some people can get by only 6 hours of sleep. Some people do best when they have 9 hours of sleep. The great irony to me is that people who get by best with 6 hours of sleep typically want to sleep for 9 hours and then people who get by best with 9 hours of sleep don’t want to sleep at all. They rather sleep less amount of time.
When we live in alignment with our ‘doshic’ preferences we tend to create imbalance.
When we live in alignment with what our body needs, we generate health. So the quantity of sleep could be different for different people. Often, ayurvedic practitioners recommend that you get in bed by 10 PM and wake up by 6 AM and that is a good amount of sleeping time in general. Some people, need less sleep than that so they can wake up earlier. For other people and most of us at different times in the year we might need more sleep than that, so we might sleep in a little bit longer.
When we align our sleeping pattern with the movement of the sun and the length of the day, we tend to get enough sleep. The quality of sleep is often reflected in the quality of our activities during the day. When we have neither exhausted ourselves nor, not challenged the self, we tend to get the best sleep.
When our foods have been good but not hyper-stimulating we tend to get the best sleep. When our routines before we go to bed allow us to empty the mind and relax deeply in the body we tend to get the best sleep. So as we look at the quality of sleep, we want to consider both – When we are sleeping? And how we are sleeping?
The third is a huge challenge for women. How do we spend our vital energies? We are often called and pulled in several directions at one time. There is family, there is home, there is work and everything is pulling us in different directions, and we may feel exhausted because of it.
If you have ever been on an airplane and one of the things they tell you is if the oxygen masks drop down, put your own on first before you start to take care of the person sitting next to you. Because it is the nature of the women, the nature of mothers to want to take care of the child before they take care of themselves. But you have to learn to take care of yourself first.
You have to make it a priority for self-care or you won’t have the energy and the stamina to take care of family and job and home and community and everything else that demands your time.
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