Saturday, August 2, 2014

Finding Your Sanctuary

Recently, my family and I were fortunate enough to discover The Wild Animal Sanctuary, a place in Colorado in which animals (carnivores like lions, tigers, and bears…oh my!) are rescued, often from misinformed people who attempt to keep such animals as pets. The animals are taken to an amazing facility of over 700 acres, in which they are nurtured and cared for in a methodical way in order for them to eventually feel safe among the other animals (often first spending a long time in solitude, as some have spent their lives all alone in very small spaces).

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This lion certainly looks relaxed and like he feels safe, doesn’t he?

Being in this environment for a few hours made me consider the ways we handle our own nurturing as humans. Yes, there are certainly times when we need “rescuing” from precarious situations, and we are fortunate for that…additionally, I believe if we practice self-care, we find our own personal sanctuary of safety.

What is self-care? As a mother and wife, sometimes I struggle with knowing the answer to this question, as it seems I spend so much time caring for others. The simple answer is that self-care is doing those things that make you feel nurtured. The tougher question is what does self-care mean to YOU? Which of the following makes you feel happy?

  • A warm bath
  • Taking a walk or hike in nature
  • Snuggling with a pet
  • A quiet yoga practice
  • Having a massage
  • Listening to music
  • Calling a friend or family member
  • Praying / spiritual practice
  • Wandering through an art museum
  • Preparing a meal, for yourself and/or someone you love
  • A hot cup of tea or coffee
  • Buying yourself fresh flowers
  • Other (insert your favorite form(s) of self-care here!)

girl holding a red plastic heart in her hand

I had an “a-ha moment” when I was going through a difficult divorce years ago, when my son was barely old enough to walk. I was dealing with a lot of stress from shifting into a role of “single parent” with a child who was so young, and shared my feelings with a friend. I will never forget his words: “In order for you to be a good mom to your son, you need to be good to yourself”. Indeed, when I stopped feeling guilty for doing the things I loved, and treating them as a necessity, my stress was reduced and I could focus on being the best mom I could be. I got in touch with myself, and my needs, and I healed the wounds that needed healing.

How can you create your own sanctuary? Start by re-acquainting yourself with the things you love. Then allow those things you love to “spill into” a feeling of SELF-love. We feel safe when we are cared for, and by caring for ourselves in the best way possible, we are then able to care for others all the better. We heal the parts of us that are wounded.

“Accept yourself. Love yourself as you are.
Your finest work, your best movements, your joy, your peace, and healing comes when you love yourself.
You give a great gift to the world when you do that. You give others permission to do the same: to love themselves.
Revel in self-love. Roll in it. Bask in it as you would sunshine.” –Melodie Beattie

Doing what makes you happy is self-care…avoiding negativity is self-care…surrounding yourself with people who believe in you is self-care…and just taking the time to BE rather than focusing so much energy on what you DO…THAT is the best kind of self-care!

 

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Debra Hennesy is the founder and owner of Feel Your Best, LLC, an organization that trains people to become instructors of yoga, Pilates, stress management, as well as yoga therapists.  Colorado is the location of her newest adventures, along with her husband and active 7-year-old son.

Comments

2 Responses to “Finding Your Sanctuary”
  1. Loved reading this Debra and it has made me think. You have written so beautifully about self-care. In the busy lives we live today, we have forgotten these important things. I read and re-read this and I want to thank you for making my day. Regards, Debora

    • Debra Hennesy says:

      Thank you Debora! I have to remind myself daily: “Self-care, self-care, self-care!” so I don’t get wrapped up in the busy-ness and forget what’s truly important!

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