“Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer
About a month ago I came back to my daily meditation practice after realizing I’d been pushing myself too hard, and I was amazed at how easy it was to sit, get into that groove, and just be. I expected to sit for ten minutes, but on this day, my body didn’t want to move. I was completely content in the stillness, in silence.
I have been meditating and practicing yoga for many years, and different variations of different practices feel good at any given point in time. However, this was the first time in thirteen years that I sat down in meditation and didn’t fidget, or move a single millimeter, until the time was over.
This continued for a few weeks, and I was elated. I felt like I had reached a new level of comfort in my body, of awareness of what is important, of connection to a magical inner peace.
But life is a constant ebb and flow, and after that sweet three weeks, I was back to discomfort and fidgeting beyond about ten minutes. I felt a bit bummed, somewhat jokingly thinking that my Zen super powers were gone.
But of course, fluctuations are normal. After not regularly meditating for a few months, my body was deeply craving the softness and stillness of sitting instead of pushing for five more minutes of intensity in Vinyasa flow or five more handstands. But after a few weeks, my needs shifted again. And that was okay.
Every day, every week, every season of life brings different needs, desires, and requests. To truly care for ourselves, we need to pay attention to honor them.
The How: Check In All of the Time—Regularly, Actively, and Consistently
Ask yourself, what do I need right now? What do I desire? What’s true for me today? Only then can we address the shifts inside us and show them the respect they deserve.
If you feel more tired than usual today, you may need to take a nap or at least take it easy. If you feel emotionally overwhelmed, you may need to carve out time for journaling. If you feel physically sore, you may need some gentle stretching. Or, if you feel disconnected from yourself, you may need a little meditation or some mirror work.
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to self-care—only what’s right for you in a given moment based on what you’re feeling and what you need. So, create a judgment-free space for yourself. Be kind, loving, and compassionate to yourself, and honor your varied needs.
And remember: It’s not lazy to rest or switch an active practice for a gentle one if that’s what your body and mind are craving. In fact, this is the key energizing yourself.
We are always changing, so what we need tomorrow, next week, and next month will be different. Whether the differences are subtle or obvious, it’s undeniably true. Believing that we are stagnant in life or permanently stuck in what is presenting today serves no value.
The body, mind, and soul are constantly in flux, in growth, in evolution. When we don’t check in at least once a day about what is different and how our needs and wants have changed, we often do what we have done previously. We stick to our last best routine, and end up giving ourselves something that might have worked two weeks ago or two months ago, but doesn’t necessarily benefit us today.
When I sat down and meditated so easily and effortlessly, I was finally answering some subconscious call. It made me curious to know for just how many weeks or months prior to starting meditations again my being had been requesting the practice.
If I had been tuned in then and started meditating again when my body/mind/soul was asking for it, I could have given myself the medicine, the sweetness, that it was requesting and felt healthier and more aligned much sooner, instead of struggling through imbalance.
For months, I had simply been going too fast and trying too hard to bring the next phase of my life to fruition. I didn’t like how it felt and my intuition gave me clues to stop, but instead of choosing to slow down, I told myself this was just an intense growth season in this chapter of my life and I should keep plowing forward.
This helped me reach my external goals, but I felt burnt out, stressed, unhappy, and disconnected from myself. By the time I fully realized I needed to surrender and take the time to get still and silent, my being was begging for it. Once I honored that need, the imbalance began to recalibrate and harmony began to take its place.
Now as a daily practice, upon waking, I ask myself:
- What does my body need today?
- What does my mind need today?
- What does my soul need today?
- What is my intention keyword for today?
Finally, I write an empowering statement or affirmation to use as a mantra throughout the day.
I write down whatever answers come and then figure out how I am going to fit those responses into my schedule.
Today my body wants nurturing and sweetness, which might mean a short morning self-message or a bath with essential oils in the evening.
Today my mind wants relaxation, which could mean going to sleep thirty minutes earlier than usual, doing a yoga nidra practice, or watching something that makes me laugh.
Today my soul wants peace and joy, which might mean calling a friend to laugh together or reading a spiritual book that makes me happy.
My intention keyword today is peace. And, moving with the intention of peace throughout my day means being content with what I have, appreciating all the components of day that, continuing to come back to conscious breathing, and smiling.
The Key: Follow-Through
Follow-through is as important as tuning in and asking questions, because only when we give ourselves what we truly desire can we thrive and be the best version of ourselves.
When we give ourselves exactly what we want and need, it’s surprising just how different our day is. We care for ourselves in a deeper way, we show up for other people and our work with more presence and with a better attitude and kinder heart, and we live on purpose in the truth of what is really important in life.
Many years ago my therapist told me “Every day is a little life.”
I loved that phrase and put it on my mirror. Truthfully every day is a magnificent, magical, grand chance to create our life—a chance to give ourselves exactly what we crave; a chance to choose be our genuine, raw, bold selves; a chance to be fully alive in our skin.
Things will shift; change is the only constant. Check in every day. It’s the only way to know if you’re living each day with purpose, intuitive wisdom, and love. Give yourself what you need, what you desire, what you deeply crave. When we honor ourselves, life simply feels better.