Hmm… I love the smell of cookies baking; the aroma taps into my warm and fuzzy notion of comfort. Food, of course, is vital to good health, and cookies may not be on everyone’s radar, but the bottom line is, food fuels our bodies. Being mindful of what works best for your body is basic self-care. The same is true for the soul; it’s up to you to ensure your soul is well nourished.
Thomas Moore, author of “Care of the Soul”, presents a philosophy that encourages us to accept our life in all its wonder and challenging forms. He suggests that rather than struggling to rise above pain and hardship we should consider such experiences as part of the overall life equation. Or, as Buddhist author Pema Chodron would say, “If you lean into the sharp edges of life they will soften, eventually”.
I agree with this line of thinking and know firsthand, it’s the “eventually” that trips us up. It’s difficult to endure something when we are uncertain of its outcome. When you are sick with a mild flu bug, for example, there is comfort in knowing that generally after a few days you will be up and around. However, when more intense illnesses, or ongoing progressive diseases are on the menu, one must discover new ways to generate the self-comfort needed to persevere.
Moore believes that sacredness can be discovered in our everyday life rituals, and this in turn helps to ground us during difficult experiences. Routines, however mundane, are very important and when they become altered because of illness, disability or aging, it’s as if the ground starts to fall away. The truth of our human fragility is revealed. This is hard to accept.
At times, I experience sharp flashes of fear about my changing abilities. It’s hard not to bite this hook, but instead, I gently remind myself to lean into the fear, and suspend judgment. “It is what it is, and nothing more.” I repeat this five times. I’m not certain if this would fit with Moore’s definition of a ritual, but I find the more I practice this, the quicker the fear transforms into a tender awareness.
I savour the smells of food being lovingly prepared, I admire photographs of sunsets, I love to share big-belly laughs, and every morning before I start my day, I offer a smile of self-respect to the person who greets me in the mirror; this is how I care for and feed my soul.
How about you?
PS. Could the cake pictured on the counter be a rehearsal for my soon to be birthday? Here’s hoping!
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