Self-Care: The Vessels of Our Spirits

Yesterday, I lived bewildered in illusion.

But now I am awake, flawless and serene,

Beyond the world.

From my light the body and the world arise.

So all things are mine, or nothing is. 

Now I have given up the body and the world,

I have a special gift.

I see the infinite Self.  ~  From the Ashtavakra Gita

I’ve realized over the past couple of weeks that I’ve been taking my relative good health for granted. In particular, I’ve been derelict in my duty to take care of my body.  I think it is easy to take our bodies for granted. Too easy. We are housed within them for all our lives, so we tend to be unconscious of how truly wondrous they are. We live on auto-pilot.  We never think about the beauty and grace of how they function, day after day — year after year. Our spirits infuse them with all that we are, but we often totally forget that we need to take care of them. They cannot be flogged and abused and mistreated forever without consequence.

What happened?

I had a small cancer scare after my recent mammogram. They called me in to take more images, and then took their sweet time in contacting me about the results. I didn’t have a bad feeling about the whole thing, but I still wondered if I might have missed something that might be no bigger than a grain of rice. I suppose it wouldn’t be hard to do. I lost a friend to breast cancer last fall so I knew that I shouldn’t be so cavalier with my health.  But I didn’t really make any changes, until now.

This week I started to use my exercise bike for something other than a coat rack. I thought about what I was eating and why. I finished up a long string of painful but necessary dental appointments.  I read and wrote.  I submitted poems and worked with my new interns on my online magazine, Kalliope.  I focused on what I actually have control over and stayed away from fear mongering and negativity. More than anything I realized the importance of managing what I focus on and what I choose to allow into my life — in terms of news, images, ideas, and people.   It is so clear what is good for me and what is not.

I’ve talked about this before.  I am an advocate for skipping the televised news (and television in general).  Skip the spin.  I stopped watching the national news almost a year ago and life is better in every way because of it.  I still know what’s going on.  I do. I just don’t “eat a shit sandwich” (my sense of what watching the news is) and then head off to bed, thinking that I will have a peaceful night’s sleep after doing so. The pundits/talking heads/spin meisters don’t have anything of value to say. I can make up my own mind about what I read about and hear. I don’t need the so-called assistance of their analysis or spin.  My best friend, Lisa, noted last night that they are pulling out the 9-11 footage again, perhaps in hopes that we can all be put into a trauma-induced amnesia that will allow us to continue to follow current horrifying events like lemmings.

No thanks.  

No thanks to meat that is so full of hormones that seven-year-old girls develop breasts.  No thanks to GMO corn that ruptures the stomachs of mice who eat it (and yet, it is still approved for human consumption).  No thanks to meat glue and pesticide-infused produce.  No thanks to personal care products that are made from carcinogens and petroleum products.  No thanks to pet food that is made from rendered shelter animals after they are killed.

How is it that we have allowed the craziest, least qualified, most rapacious among us to take charge of our food, water, and environment?  Is it even a surprise that we are fatter, more depressed, more dependent on prescription drugs, and more unhealthy than ever?

However, bucking the system that has been so carefully set up for us, takes real work. We have to consciously choose not to buy into the collective (and ugly) reality we are being served.  We have to spend more time reading labels to make sure that our food is actually real.  We have to take time to pay attention to the roots that have been so carefully hidden from view. Think. Who benefits most from us being sick and tired and unable to think clearly?

Who stands to win if we do not turn toward a more sustainable way of moving through the world? It sure as heck is not the average man or woman.

So, how do we walk through the hall of mirrors that the world has become?

Start small.  Start with ourselves.  Start with our beautiful, amazing bodies.  Stop taking our health for granted.  Stop drinking soda (particularly diet soda — which is nothing but chemicals and poison).  Stop sitting like Jabba the Hut on the couch, mowing our way through 15,000 calories worth of chips and dip. Play sports ourselves instead of watching others do it on television.  Take walks in the desert or forest or park near where we live. Wrestle with the dog.  Make a locally grown meal from scratch.  Read things that sustain us, that expand our minds, that make us wonder and think and puzzle them out. Write letters.  Talk to people who encourage us, expand our consciousness,  help us see things a new way.  Do sit ups.  Lift weights. Avoid crazy makers.

I’ve heard that our bodies contain the same elements as the constellations floating above us, numinous and spilling light.

We are literally made of carbon and stars.

We should treat these houses of spirit as the wondrous vessels that they are.  Feed ourselves well.  Love and play hard.  Agree to disagree, but still keep the lines of communication open.  Get enough sleep.  Every day.  Every day make sure we remember the grace that allows us to be here.   Make sure that we are grateful for everything we have.  Every day.  That’s my new mantra.  Today I will take care of myself.  Today, self-love.  If all of us did this, the world would change overnight.

© 2012  Shavawn M. Berry  All rights reserved

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5 thoughts on “Self-Care: The Vessels of Our Spirits

  1. Thank you for this account of personal revival, worthy criticism, and apt exhortations to live better, to be all we can be, and do it sustainably.

    I would love to use the “woman tree” picture. Know where the tree is? Natural or sculpted? Photo source? Attribution? It is mesmerizing. Any info about it will be greatly appreciated.

    About your last line and the world changing overnight … I am sorry to say that it may take generations to get rid of the effects of endocrine disruptors and other things infused into our nature. Who knows. They may have altered the DNA forever and we’ll just have to adapt to our new nature.

    In any case, I agree with the idea that if we all did it, the world would change overnight, relative to how long we’ve been screwing it up. Every change you and I make is a seed planted for future growth of things that really want to grow.

    Thanks for reminding me to practice more those ways that nourish and cultivate the growth. Know that your effort in writing this has rung bells.

    -Dennis

  2. I saw the picture of the “woman tree” on Facebook and downloaded it. It wasn’t attributed to anyone — although you might be able to find it through Google image or Bing, I suppose. I just love it. You’re right. I should find out where it came from.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my post. I agree that “changing overnight” is, perhaps, wishful thinking. I am passionate about the idea that we need to unplug from the rampant negativity and darkness that has been fed to us all of our lives. I, too, feel like I must plant seeds. I must.

    I am glad that it resonated with you. 🙂 That makes my day! Shavawn

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