Meditation, reiki, yoga, life gurus, angel circles, sound journeys, manifestations, essential oils, crystals….the list goes on as to the many ways in which I have spent my time and money lately in pursuit of utopian happiness.
Oh, and I also own lots and LOTS of harem pants.
Before it got trendy, “self-care” used to be known as “self-help” – usually only encountered by me in the form of those slightly sad overpriced paperbacks found in airport newsagents. From time to time, I would procure one *only ever when travelling alone* – titles like “overcome anxiety” and “public speaking for the terrified” were never ever finished because by page ten I had so many more serious and deep seated personality “issues” than I had ever imagined. The writing styles in these books are intense and uncomfortable. Public health warning: not the best beach reads for anyone vaguely inclined towards generalised anxiety disorder.
Since then, the self-care industry has exploded and as with everything these days, once you start liking the self-care gurus on social media, well…as my husband not so delicately put it…there are many weird and wonderful ways to throw open your windows and chuck wads of money out of them.
He always knows just the right things to say about my enthusiasms. But Oprah swears by it, I protest.
Before it became ever so exhausting trying to be in trend, these windows were exotic and exciting and full of beautiful people beckoning me in. Baby blues had left me lacking in confidence and looking for ways to embrace the “new me” – or the sack of tatties I thought I had become. I worked hard on hoping for better times. Project Me was not to be stilted on. This spiritual journey was going to be GREAT.
And anyway. Why shouldn’t I be entirely selfish and put myself first, carve out time to be spiritual. Be that amazing earth mother who doesn’t ever shout. Be a 38 year old first time hipster. Surely this path would be easier in the long run than a complete brain transplant.
But I soon discovered being a zen spirit takes a lot of hard work. Its like a full time commitment. Because you’re thinking about being a certain way, in my case an un-natural way, ALL the time. It’s also an exceedingly middle class pursuit with often nauseating company and a price tag to match.
I found myself developing superstitions whereby I had to maintain a certain level of daily buy-in to the suggested self-care regimes to feel like I was on track. It was quite stressful.
Then, no matter how mindful or muted I tried to be, quiet guilty feelings started to creep in. This is quite expensive. I probably should spend a bit of telly time with husband. That child needs shouted at. I SHOULD be enjoying this. But guilt is to be abated…happy mummy, happy everybody, right?
You can’t kid a kidder. The brain is clever like that.
I realise why I was rubbish at mindfulness. I get cross a lot. And then get cross with myself for being cross. Then feel like a failure for not being mindful. Turns out I’m pretty impatient too. Being a flapping floundering calm person sucks.
And results don’t come quickly enough when you’re meditating with one eye open between feeds and you’ve not swatted up sufficiently on your spirit animal or your chakras before class to understand what is going on. Or, when you are so tired and stressed to be able to vocalise your intention for today. Or look in the mirror and say I love you without a flash of cynicism. And you literally can’t bear to lift a pen to write a daily gratitude journal because your self-care To Do list just keeps getting longer and longer and longer. But it feels good when you cry in the group under pressure as long as you don’t really admit why.
And so I had a light bulb moment last week that self-care practice is not for the aspiring perfectionist with a sometime Friday gin and tonic habit that sort of does the job nicely as it is.
None of this is the hipster thing to say, oh well.
Lightbulb again. I have been spending so much time on my mind and soul, my body is suffering. I’m getting FAT. Look after my body and my mind and soul will take care of itself. The old fashioned way.
Self-discovery is genuinely fascinating, even when the outcome isn’t wall-to-wall joy.
Biggest spiritual awakening? The hareems have GOT to go. Ceremonial fire pit anyone?
Was it all worth it? Well, I guess the old me IS back!
And I think I quite like her.