Self-care in the time of C-19
In Classical Chinese Medicine the corner stone of strong health is the trinity of breath, nutrition, and sleep. This is why the progression of the acupuncture channels begins with the Lung channel then transitions through the Stomach channel and thirdly to the Heart channel (which is most associated with sound sleep). So, self-care begins with attending to these aspects of life- learning about our breath, the art of cuisine and it's connection to the land, and how to optimise our sleep. For tips on this trinity look to my resources page HERE.
This trinity is akin to Maslow's heirarchy of needs, for our life is immediately dependant on oxygen, water, food, and sleep. After this trinity the most essential aspect of self-care is relationship. We are defined as people through our relationships. What would we be without our parents? Who would we be without the shaping our friendships and teachers have afforded us? For this reason, self-care is not simply about ourselves. It is about others too. By giving our attention and energy to our friends and family we are nourishing ourselves. By giving attention to our natural environment and to animals we are nourishing ourselves. By saying 'we are defined through our relationships' this means we are symbiotic creatures. We simply wouldn't exist without these relationships.
So, what happens when we isolate ourselves? Simply put, we start to go a little crazy. Or rather, our craziness and self-delusion starts to reveal itself. This is why traditional meditation requires retreating into isolation, both physically and cutting off from the sense portals- this brings us face to face with delusion and the natural human tendency for craziness. However, we as a community have not entered lockdown for any spiritual pursuit. And so I believe there will be lasting mental-health problems arising from the enforced isolation, particularly with those who do not have strong social networks or are living alone.
My recommendation is not only to invest extra time and energy into reaching out to friends and family, but to use the video apps that are readily available, as we know that being face-to-face with one another is very important for co-regulation. By looking into and responding to other faces we literally are regulating each others physiology. Having a good conversation is like sustenance for the soul, it should be thought of as part of our nutritional intake.
Technology has unfortunately been a double-edged sword in this regard, for we live in what some call a 'polluted information ecology.' For this reason, I've found it very helpful to do a regular 'digital detox'. This means setting an intention to turn off all phones, computers, screens, wifi for a whole day, or at the least a half-day. By releasing ourselves from the grip of technological addiction, you will notice your whole being breathes a sigh of relief. It's a remarkable thing how we become gradually so unaware of the effect technology, social media and news has on us. This is a major cause of anxiety, restlessness, impoverished attention, and stress. By 'de-technofying' ourselves we renew our sense of awe and appreciation at simple everyday things. Try it.
To summarise, self-care begins with attending to our body by freeing up our breath, nourishing ourselves, and giving ourselves proper rest. It is greatly enhanced through friendship and keeping our sense of wellbeing unaffected by smartphones and tech. Lastly, finding an enjoyable way to exercise and move the body completes the picture. I recommend checking out my online qigong tuition is you're interested in learning an excellent way to address all of these self-care practices together.
Writings on health, happiness, and innovating between traditional and modern lifestyles.