Lessons in Self-Care



Confession time.

I have a dirty little secret that I've been hiding from you all for the past several months. I'm not proud to admit it, but this year is all about Vulnerability in my neck of the woods, and being whole-heartedly honest with you about where I am in my own journey with hopes it can help you in yours, so here it goes:

Up until a few days ago, I went 8 months without receiving myself any of the work that I so love and provide to my private clients. 8 months with no CranioSacral Therapy, barely any energy work, no shamanic healing and minimal massage. Cut back on meditation. Stopped doing yoga asana. Took a year off from advanced trainings, new modalities, retreats.

What was I thinking you might ask?

Well, I actually did this for a myriad of reasons. One, I've actually been pain free in my body for almost a full year now (minus some minor aches and pains that a good epsom bath can take care of). Coming from a time when my body was riddled with pain that no doctor could figure out, this is huge. Momentous. To be celebrated.

But taking time off from this work was also very intentional, an experiment if you will. And I certainly received all the results that I was hoping for, though I had a suspicion they would not all be pleasant.

Let me back-track a bit to put this all in perspective. It was over 6 years ago that I had received my first 'no-diagnosis diagnosis' from the doctors along with my first real deal panic attack, was fired from a job and the resulting mini-breakdown that led me to leave the financial industry a year later (for more read My Journey So Far). As they say, losing a job is right up there with death and divorce as traumatic events in one's life, and so I sought out a therapist to work through my panic and depression. This courageous first step was to change my life forever, and sparked a radical Revolution in my life that led me to where I am today.

Since that summer of 2006, literally every day, week, month, year of my life has been filled with some sort of self-exploration & healing experience- therapy, yoga, meditation, trainings, living in the jungles of Asia, certifications, shamanic healings, massage, bodywork, a lot of CranioSacral Therapy..... as more layers peeled back, more Work (the capital W kind of work) needed to be done. And it's been amazing, truly. But also quite frankly, tiring. Exhausting. Fulfilling. Breath-taking. Draining. Liberating... the list could go on.

So when 2012 rolled around, I looked at the stars and saw we were in for a doozy of a year (what with the whole Mayan end-of-the-world shift) and reflected on the past 6 years in light of this. I decided to take a break from The Work, and let my body Integrate all it had been through to decide where it wanted to go. Hence my previous posts about my break from yoga asana and leaving my spiritual meditation community. But I also took an intentional break from advanced trainings in my modalities, and also from being worked on myself, to give my body a rest and just BE with what it was experiencing- which for the first time in memory, was actually not pain.

It was a struggle, let me tell you. There were days that I was so tempted to sign up for this or that training- Masters who I had access to working with personally but turned down out of respect for my decision. Weeks where my head hurt and I knew I should make an appointment, but didn't. I took care of basics, like getting a massage when I needed it, working on myself a lot, or going to the chiropractor when my atlas was out and my neck was in pain. But I had already done so much healing over the past 6 years, had dug so deep, had gone through so much transformation, that I just needed some space.

And space I received. Too much. I had a feeling of what my body would do by not giving it the CranioSacral work and other modalities it loves, by encouraging stagnation when it wanted to release. I knew I would get irritable. I had a feeling the panic would creep back in, and the depression may make a reappearance. But I needed to see it, feel it, experience it.... to know one of my Core Truths on a level beyond the intellectual- that this stuff WORKS when it is received regularly, no matter where we are on our Path.

I think on some level too, I needed to test my Faith. Of course I didn't know this at the time, but really, do we ever?

Here's the thing I've noticed happening not just with myself, but with many clients as well- when you are feeling good and healthy, it's almost impossible to believe that you could feel anything but that great. And so, you back off- or oftentimes cut off- your Self Care routines, because you think you don't need them anymore. You think you've done the Work and you don't need to keep going.

When in all reality, that's when it is most important to keep going, to make sure that you are committed to the things that worked on some sort of regular schedule. It may not be weekly or daily like it once was, and it shouldn't be. But knowing on all levels that you will be taking care of yourself, that you will allow yourself to be taken care of by another in some capacity, is of the utmost importance.

This was my experiment to find out- Is this true?

Yes, it absolutely is.

I'm not saying that I ignored my body completely and had no Self Care this year. Quite the contrary. I used the space opened up by not doing my other practices to try new modalities, clean up my nutrition, begin cooking again, try new workouts. Sleep. A lot. Went camping several times, took a few road trips, even went on vacation with my love for 2 whole weeks to tropical paradise.

I learned new ways of Self Care that I had never even thought of or had the time or resources to discover, and they are now all a part of my routine.

But something was missing. My nervous system began to run in circles again. I was waking in the middle of the night with nightmares at my old time of 2:04am, just like years ago. I could feel little bits of anxiety creeping in. Panic over little things. And Depression came knocking at my door when an unhappy client trashed me as a person & practitioner via several private emails. I developed an eye twitch that wouldn't go away, and finally, my old knee injury tweaked on a hike for the first time in 5 years.

And so this week, I officially ended my experiment and made the long drive down to Santa Cruz to receive CranioSacral Therapy from a woman I deeply respect. It was hard, confronting, my body hurt, my head was splitting at one point. I felt chained to an old way of being, and had to finally cut the chain that was binding me.

The session had a total of 5 holds in 90 minutes, and it was nothing short of miraculous to be held in that space, to know my body received what it wanted, and for my soul to know that it was being taken care of. And I felt better last night and today than I have in months, maybe years.

So when a client asked me today a simple question- how long does one need to get worked on to be done with healing? My answer was simple: We're never done.

And I don't ever want to be. Working on healing, taking care of myself, is what makes me feel alive. Come alive. Be ALIVE.

And my Faith is once again restored, more than ever before. And I get to receive another session next week, and I couldn't be more ready.

Have you ever had to confront your own Self Care practices? Did you ever take a break from something that helped you, only to find out later that you need it on a regular basis?

What practices, modalities, teachers do you turn to in your own Self-Care practices? How can you learn more about yourself through these- or your resistance to them

Jennifer Blackstock