Today I'd like to introduce you to a concept central to Ayurveda, the natural system of medicine that informs my coaching practice. It's called dinacharya. Dina means daily, and charya means routines. So dinacharya refers to our daily routines. Now, we all have habits for sure. We are creatures of habits! But those habits are not always supportive of our health. They can even be downright detrimental.
- Do you feed your mind with world news first thing in the morning, every morning?
- Do you check your emails as soon as you have a free minute or two?
- Do you skip lunch on most days only to have a large dinner at night?
- Do you boost your energy level with a sugary treat or coffee every afternoon?
- Is watching TV late in the evening while snacking on chips your preferred way of unwinding?
Those are definitely habits. The kind that contribute to making you feel ungrounded, edgy, tired. Obviously, dinacharya is about a different kind of habits. The kind that makes you feel strong, stable and nurtured. Healthy habits in other words.
I'll be honest with you, adopting new and healthy habits is probably the most difficult thing for us humans to do. We get so attached to our ways of doing things, even when we recognize those habits as sub-optimal. I speak from experience.
In my early 20's I began meditating and knew right away that this practice would be forever central to my well-being. Yet I allowed life (or myself rather!) to get in the way and remained a casual meditator for almost ten years. In my late 20's to handle the stress I experienced in a volatile relationship I turned to cigarettes to relax (ah!), excessive amount of exercise (depleting), and sweets (lots of it) to "comfort" my heart. None of it alleviated my fears and anxiety of course. Once-in-a-while I'd get a back rub, take a walk in nature or manage to sit myself down to meditate.
But once-in-a-while anything doesn't give lasting results.
That's when I finally got that taking a little time for myself every day was no longer an option. Fortunately years earlier I had experienced the transformative power of meditation and knew this was the remedy I needed to soothe my agitated mind. So I got serious about it and began meditating daily, not for long mind you, 5-10 minutes. As a result I have been able to navigate all kinds of challenges calmly, efficiently and gracefully. But if I skip my daily meditation too many days in a row I quickly revert back to my frazzled self. Meditation is mental hygiene for me.
I hope that by reading this story you'll feel motivated to take action today instead of letting a decade go by like I did. The lesson is this:
To feel your best day after day you need to take care of yourself day after day.
It's that simple. And no, it doesn't mean two hours a day, not even an hour. How about 30 minutes? Could you allocate 30 minutes daily to care for the most precious vehicle you'll ever own, in which you think, feel, act, live (!), your body-mind? I recommend you fit your me-time in the morning, shortly after awakening. Morning self-care is particularly potent. If you can step into your day feeling calm, energized and focused, imagine how prepared you will be to live it fully, no matter what unfolds. Truth is you probably already know what you need to do to get your day started right (most of us do!) Something for your body, mind and spirit would be ideal. For example:
- A glass of pure water, yoga postures, sun salutations, jogging, weight lifting, a walk in nature, dancing.
- Journal writing, breathing exercises, EFT (emotional freedom technique)
- Meditation, prayer, inspirational read or video.
Have you found a self-care routine that you love? Easy to stick to? Please share in the comment section below so we can all benefit!