The most powerful transformational force is a simple kindness to oneself and all that lives. Linda Durnell
Our daily choices — spiritual, physical, intellectual, communal and emotional — merge into the sum total of who we are. Whether these choices are conscious or unconscious, they reflect our state of mind, body and spirit. Furthermore, I would hypothesize that illness, mental and physical, correlates highly with the degree of awareness we hold relative to ourselves and the world around us. Wellness, then, is the concerted effort of individuals to know and act from their strengths and to acknowledge and grow beyond their challenges.
Such self-care demands an intimate relationship with oneself. With practice and time, we become our own physicians able to diagnose and effectively treat our personal ailments. Frankly, it is the only means by which we can begin to deal with the source of what ails us (low self-esteem) as opposed to only treating the variety of symptoms that appear on the surface (obesity, anger, substance abuse, violence, smoking, anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia, bi-polar, psoriasis, hatred, war, etc., etc.)
Below are a sample of self-care antidotes offered by Linda Durnell that apply across any change we may need or wish to make for ourselves.
- Be brave because you are powerful beyond your knowing.
- Offer yourself compassion and forgiveness instead of anger and hatred.
- When faced with what appears to be insurmountable obstacles, remember appearances are deceiving.
- Keep your thoughts, words and actions aimed at truth, beauty and goodness.
- Be forever curious and when fear creeps in, face it.
- Let go of guilt and blame, they are wasted energy.
- Every single moment, you are choosing what to share with the world — choose love.
Learning how to care for and love ourselves is the essence of the archetypal hero’s journey. This universal rite of passage meanders us through separation, ordeal and reintegration. As Phil Cousineau states, “Each movement from one life stage to another demands a break from the past, the enduring of an ordeal and then a return to ordinary life.” A good friend of mine is currently undertaking the journey of shedding 100 pounds, and he can vouch for the sense of separation that accompanies the loss of 60 of those pounds. Although the ordeal of his weight-loss journey may appear to be an increased physical regime of exercise, I suspect he would counter and say the previously unknown aspects of self that were hidden by the weighty shield are the true ordeal to face.
I wrote the following poem as a reminder to me that we are all heroes on our own unique journey of self-care.
The Hero’s Journey
A hero’s story plays out within humanity, within you.
It tells a timeless tale of wonder, wounds and
a wandering pilgrimage in search for the holy grail of self.
Tho’ our mind may not choose this journey,
its path is hardwired into our souls.
Such great expectation demands collaboration.
We are joined, foolishly or fortuitously,
by those seeking to regain
the fearless wonder of childhood.
To once again glimpse this Wonder Child
fills every heart to bursting.
Joyful, imaginative and confident we
tumble down the rabbit hole to outfox the Queen of Hearts.
Or, our less courageous, sometimes resentful
inner sibling watches from the shadows.
Aching to be seen, to be loved, to belong,
our Wounded Child wages an inner war of defiance.
Our watchful Wanderer gathers these pieces of self,
whether brave or broken, knitting
each to the other. Compassionately, smoothing
ragged edges, washing sorrow with tears.
This Wanderer reforms without deforming
until a face appears, the right face,
the face you have always known.