Looking after oneself

Hmm, difficult hey?! It seems rather selfish to want to look after oneself, you have to put yourself first and make time to eat well, exercise and meditate.

It is something I struggled with for quite sometime, until I met and chatted with Sharon from a bit of the good stuff. And she said something which really resonated with me – “I can’t help other people if I am not well myself”.

Now, I admit this is not a new idea at all and something I have come across before, but there was something in the way that she said, in the context we were in and what we were talking about that is suddenly made sense and altered my thinking.

I am generally getting better at this, I have a regular massage, which isn’t indulgence, but an important aspect of keeping me healthy. I have a therapist each week – again a financial spend, but something which I feel is important to help me heal from my depression.

I got a dog, mainly so that I HAD to take a long walk in nature each day – he doesn’t understand the idea that I don’t feel well, or I can’t be bothered – he needs me to take him for a long walk each day. I love him for this.

Buster and me in the woods

Buster and me in the woods

Being in nature is something which I swear I can feel healing my soul. There is something truely regenerative for being in the woods, or by running water. It is a key part of looking after myself.

But eating well? This is something I really struggle with. Especially as I have gone vegetarian as part of my Buddhism and making my life greener. It has made it really hard to eat, Gavin and I have not had the healthiest of diets and it is beginning to show in how I feel and my weight gain.

I was vegetarian when I was younger and it was easy – I lived off of tea, toast and fags and pretty much only ate one meal a week, which my boyfriend’s lovely mum went out of her way to cook for me each Sunday, even though no one else was veggie. It may have been easy: but it was not healthy. Looking back at the few photos from my uni days I looked like I was going to drop down dead (admittedly not helped by the goth wear) and was so THIN. Woefully so.

I also ended up giving myself a B12 deficiency – my stomach stopped absorbing it. I now have to have a very painful injection every 3 months for the rest of my life.

This time I wanted to do it differently. However, I still have quite a few hangups about food, I honestly would prefer to take a tablet if there was one available which would fulfill all nutritional requirements. Then I could give up eating and not have to worry about shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning it all up ever again. Unfortunately it does not look like science has this as an issue it is devoting time and energy too.

It is easier to give up other bad habits if you have issues with them – especially if you are like me and can’t deal very well with moderation. I have given up smoking and drinking fine. I just don’t do them. Eating on the other hand – you can’t give up, you have to eat something.

I have come to the conclusion that eating healthy, whole food is a vital part of being healthy and well. I just need to make that transition to doing so. I would like to eventually cut all processed food out of my diet and focus on eating healthily and well, but this will probably be a slow and steady progress over several years.

I still have my urge that I am here to DO something, to fulfill my purpose, but I haven’t figured out what that is yet. However, I need to be fit and healthy when I do. So I am going to work on my health through eating better. I am not going to beat myself up and expect to be perfect, but I am going to eat a good, healthy vegetarian diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. One stage at a time.

This has turned into a much longer post than I intended it to be and quite a personal and revealing one as well, but that is the point of this blog.

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2 thoughts on “Looking after oneself

  1. Our relationship with food can be such a tricky one, but I know my eating habits have greatly improved since deepening my Dharma practice. Our spiritual guides encourage us to integrate all our daily activities into our spiritual practice, and so this is what I decided to do with eating 😉 It has been a very gradual process, but here are a few ways that I’ve transformed it from a mundane into a supramundane experience.
    In the past, preparing dinners was always a chore. Now I see it as part of my ‘cherishing others’ practice and really enjoy serving food that’s going to nourish loved ones and keep them healthy and happy!
    As an aspiring Bodhisattva, I need to keep my own body healthy so that I can use it as a vehicle for attaining enlightenment. With this aspiration, I lost all desire to eat junk food. Since the body and mind are so closely linked, what’s the point in me striving to purify my mind if I’m filling up my body with impure food?
    Before our meals, Lil’ L and I say ‘grace’ and thank every being that’s been involved in getting the food onto our plates. This has really helped us to appreciate our food and how it has only appeared on our plates thanks to the kindness of others ♥
    As Buddhists, we must offer the first mouthful of each meal to the Buddhas. Again, this has helped me steer clear of junk food as there’s no way I want to offer junk food to the Buddhas! (I visualise Buddha at my heart when I make this offering, and imagine that I’m nourishing the Buddha within).
    Washing up… this was a tricky one… but I now transform it into a purification practice. As I clean the dishes, I imagine that I’m removing the impurities from my mind at the same time. Clearly there are a lot of impurities to clean, so each washing up session has now transformed into a useful spiritual practice 😉 I do actually feel that my mind is ‘lighter’ after I do this practice.
    So sorry for the long comment! Not sure if any of this is useful to you, but hopefully it will help to spark some ideas on how you can transform your experience of eating into a more pleasurable one xx

  2. Sharon, thank you for such a thoughtful comment!

    I love your approach and it is one which I am trying to adopt for myself, seeing food as a way to nourish other people is a good view to take and one which I think I am going to adopt, as is a little thankfulness before each meal.

    I haven’t heard of offering the first mouthful to the Buddhas, but then again I am still at the very start of my Buddhist studies. But I think I will adopt this practice as well.

    As for washing up, strangely I really don’t mind washing up, but I hate emptying the dishwasher. I have take to saying mantras in my head as I do so as a way to make it less painful and I always enjoy it more when I do that

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