Category Archives: New Cosmology

Self-Care Is Your Job, part 1

Episcopal coach and writer “Self-care.”

What’s your reaction to that word? When you read or hear “self-care,” do you light up? Do you feel warm and relaxed? Do you cringe and indulge in an inner eye-roll?

I think it’s a rare woman in our culture who hears the advice to take care of herself and responds, “Of course. Duh.” I think most of us are tired of being told to take care of ourselves. We’re either already doing it, or we’re confused about what self-care means and if it’s really okay.

If you’re struggling with whether you have the right to take care of yourself, and how to do it, you’re in good company. Self-care’s a tricky subject with lots of layers, and it can be difficult to manage.

Let’s take a deeper look at self-care. Let’s delve into what self-care is and isn’t, why it’s crucial, how to determine whether our current self-care is really serving us and what to do if it’s not, and barriers to taking good care of yourself in this four-part blog series.

(You can download a PDF to collect your answers to my questions here: Self-care lesson one pdf)

First of all, what is self-care? Self-care is anything that feeds our true selves. Self-care is doing things that strengthen our connection to Source/God and that bring us joy. Self-care is taking the time to figure out what we really want, down in our core. Figuring out what truly nourishes us.

What self-care isn’t: Self-care is NOT numbing ourselves to anger, boredom, anxiety, sadness, or any other painful feeling. Self-care is NOT finding ways to tolerate intolerable situations. Self-care is NOT behaving destructively – destructive anger, being mean, indulging in addictions.

Why is self-care crucial?

Because we are HOLONS.

The concept of holons comes from the New Cosmology, a way of describing reality rooted in modern physics. So this is science, yo. The theory of holons suggests that everything is a whole/part, that nothing is separate and distinct. Life consists of nested holons of increasing complexity. Everything is connected.

We know this is true. Our bodies are made from organs, which are made of tissues, which are made of cells, which are made of atoms, which are made of sub-atomic particles… In turn, we’re part of families and neighborhoods and communities and nations. Plants and animals are composed of atoms and cells and tissues, and in turn make up forests and biomes and ecosystems and the world. Nothing living exists apart and separate. We’re all connected.

Being a holon means that self-care is your job. When you take care of yourself you take care of both the smaller components of yourself and the larger systems of which you are a part. No one can take care of yourself but you. Self-care is crucial, and it’s your job.

So why does self-care feel like such a struggle, and how can we get better at it?

When we were little kids we were better at giving ourselves what we really needed. For most of us, that skill’s been replaced with figuring out what those around us want from us and giving them what they want. Being able to read our environment and keep ourselves safe by squashing our wants was a necessary skill when we were dependent on others for our survival. It doesn’t serve us as adults.

We’re told that self-care is selfish, and being selfish is bad. We’re usually told this by people who benefit from our selflessness. When we take care of ourselves, we set and keep boundaries and other people get uncomfortable.

We’re told that those things we used to do as kids that brought us bliss are silly and unimportant. Our lives become filled with “important things” like school and work and getting through the days. Bliss becomes a self-indulgent luxury.

How can we get in touch with what really truly feeds us?

Maybe you’re already doing a good job of this. You can be our mentors!

Many of us will need to remember the kid who loved simple, everyday things. Maybe it was finger painting or playing with your dog. Early mornings or late nights when no one else was around. A favorite tree. A game you could play for hours. What smells and sensations delighted your young self? What person or place made you happy?

Consider how those kid-bliss experiences and activities are expressed in your adult life. If they aren’t, how might they be?

Being a holon means we can hold paradox. Opposite things being true is built into our whole/part DNA. Self-care is both selfish and generous. We care for ourselves both for ourselves and for the world.

So this week, pay attention to what truly feeds you, and do more of it. Next week we’ll think about the ways we practice faux self-care, why we do that, and how to tell the difference between fake self-care and the real thing. Hint: it’s like the difference between junk food and healthy food. Healthy food takes more effort, and it’s sustaining!

You can download the PDF that supports this week’s work here: Self-care lesson one pdf

Leave a comment and let me know what your self-care challenges are. And your successes!

The World’s Heart – A Mystical Camino Moment

On the Meseta, Day 22

On the Meseta, Day 17 (22 May 2014)

A chilly rainy day on the Meseta. May 22, 2014. Camino Day 17. I was walking by myself, surrounded by other peregrinos. Tired, cold, and wet.

Walking, and walking, and walking.

Then – the dawning awareness of a massive heart beneath us, in the Earth, supporting us and buoying us. Loving us. My heart was connected to this heart, as were the hearts of all the pilgrims around me. All our hearts were tethered to this one great Earth Heart.

Through this Heart we are all connected.

I’m connected, through this Heart, to the child atop the Mumbai garbage heap, to the American sex trafficker, to Donald Trump.

I’m connected, through this Heart, to all the woody green tree hearts, the flinty granite rock hearts, and the wild blue ocean heart.

I’m connected, through this Heart, to raven hearts, rattlesnake hearts, and otter hearts, too.

I think it’s probable that Earth Heart is connected to Moon Heart, Mars Heart, Orion Heart, etc. And that all those interstellar hearts are connected to Universe Heart. But I don’t have any data to back up my hypothesis.  😉

I think our connection to Earth Heart is what we call “God.”

This connection is how prayer works.

This connection is why my choices matter.

This connection is why I must heal what’s broken in me.

Because we’re all connected through this Deep Heart.

All of this is, of course, completely unprovable by any quantitative measure.

And I know it’s true.

Relationship is Fundamental

Armenian Genocide Vigil

Armenian Genocide Vigil, Trinity Church, Boston, April 23 2015
Photo Credit: Tricia Harvey

We’re commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  African refugees are drowning by the hundreds in the Mediterranean. Closer to home, Nancy, a much-beloved member of our church and dear friend to many, is actively dying. Her family and friends are at her bedside, feeling her light and witnessing its waning. Jerry’s cancer has metastasized to his bones and he has just weeks to live. Bill is in his last days and he’s terrified. Even beloved cats are dying. I sometimes feel like I’m immersed in suffering and death.

I wonder: What’s one White middle-aged Oregonian gonna do about all of this? What’s my job here?

 

No man is an island entire of itself; every man

is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe

is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as

well as any manner of thy friends or of thine

own were; any man’s death diminishes me,

because I am involved in mankind.

And therefore never send to know for whom

the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. – John Donne

 

 

Modern cosmology is proving the truth of Donne’s poetic statement. As Judy Cannato puts it in Radical Amazement, “All creation has come about through a single cosmic event, often called the Big Bang. Creation is not a static fixed event, but a cosmogenesis, an ongoing act of creation and creativity. Because all life is part of this single cosmic event, all life is connected at its most basic level.

 

“The theory of holons suggests that everything is a whole/part, that nothing is separate and distinct. Life consists of nested holons of increasing complexity. Relationship is fundamental.

 

A friend posted the photo of the Armenian Genocide memorial service in Boston last night. This is what we can do for them: light candles and remember them. Remember that this thing happened, and that things like it continue to happen. Know that as this thing happened to them, because we are all connected, it has happened, is happening, to us.

There’s where I find hope in our connection. I don’t know how to help African refugees except to make peace where I am, to live as peacefully and compassionately as I know how, which includes giving to organizations with boots on the ground. What I can do for the dying is be present with them and with those who mourn, with my whole witnessing heart. And because we are all connected, as I live intentionally, knowing that how I live makes a difference, the world will change. Thanks be to  God.

What I mean when I say God

Rocks

What I mean when I say God

 I hear and I say: God is “up there.” God is here. God is so last year/century/millennium. God is now. God is no. God is yes.

Do I believe? I know I don’t. Not really. Not in “God.” (But Jesus is my BFF, so how does that work?)

When have I experienced  “God”? My kids. My husband. Outside, roofless. Friendship and familyness.

I hear and I say: God is in heaven. God is creation. The earth is the body of God.

I believe in “energy.” I believe in life force and meaning and growth and wholeness and that we are held somehow.  That a part of us touches and communes with and flows with Deep Being.

“Deep Being.”  Being within, under, around, over, with. Enlivener. Lover. Is-ness. Healer. Whole-maker. Reconciler.

Rain. Sun. Spring. The way clouds stick to trees in the Pacific Northwest. Whales breaching and otters frolicking and humans hugging. Waves on the sand and a good bottle of wine with friends and making love. And redwoods. Always redwoods. The Grand Canyon. Wind in Ponderosa pines, and how the ocean smells and sounds, and good food. Lake Superior. Crater Lake.

Bread and wine.

The something that’s there, that I feel, even in rocks. Sometimes especially in rocks. Granite and sandstone. (Not in volcanic rocks. Why not?)

That’s what I mean when I say “God.”

(What do you mean when you say “God”?)

 

Always We Begin Again

Taking the plungeThese days, my prayer is steeped in Franciscan Richard Rohr’s teachings about True Self and False Self. According to Fr. Richard, our True Self is the part of us that is connected with Oneness, with God, with Source, and is where we find our true home. Our True Self is Love. Fr. Richard contrasts our Love-based True Self with the False Self, our usual ego-centric, Fear-based mode of operating. This teaching makes sense to me because I am experiencing living in Love more and more often. I know what Love feels like. And I know all too well what Fear feels like.

This morning, my prayer went something like this:

Thank you for this new day. The sun is rising, and I am risen, to begin again. This sunrise is a resurrection, a chance for new life, metamorphosis, beginning again. Always we begin again.

God is Love. The Universe is Love. All created things are Love.

I choose today to be rooted in Love, to grow in Love, to flow with Love, to be Love.

This Love is already in me. All I have to do to reach it is let go of illusions — that I am bad, that I have to work for Love, that I have to keep myself safe, that I am down here and God is up there and I am essentially separate from God and from everyone and everything else — and let myself sink into my body’s center. And sit there. Then get up. And participate in Love.

And then I think: Who am I if I’m not cranky and critical and opinionated and grasping and WORRIED? And I realize that I’m afraid I’ll be poor if I’m not worried and cranky and critical and opinionated and grasping.

And then I remember how Love feels in my body, and how Fear feels, and I know that these fears are False Self talking. So I sink into my body’s center. And sit there. Then get up, and participate in Love. I begin again.