by Jenn Krebs, N.D.
One of the philosophical principles of naturopathic medicine is that the body has an innate ability to heal itself. Applying this principle to mind-body medicine, we could extrapolate that each one of has an innate desire to take care of ourselves and improve our health and sense of wellbeing. We might assume that deep down we want to make better choices like eating healthier foods, exercising, and getting enough sleep, or perhaps that we have an unspoken obligation to be kind to ourselves, to value ourselves, and to honor our needs. Based on this assumption, we might all yearn to be connected to our family or a community, to find meaning in our lives and our work, and to be seen, heard, and loved in our relationships.
I define self-care as the way in which we listen to and act upon this innate desire to be a better version of ourselves. In many ways, one could argue that self-care is the cornerstone of our health. We can visit countless doctors’ offices and take numerous medications and supplements, but if we cannot connect with the part of us that is motivated, inspired and committed to taking care of ourselves, we will continue to struggle in reaching our health goals.
What is it that makes us choose vegetables over candy, taking a walk over watching TV, getting a good night’s sleep over a late night of partying? What is it that motivates us to end an unhealthy relationship, to leave a safe job for a chance to pursue a dream, or to reach out to a friend when we need help? It can’t be measured or quantified. Our motivation can be rated on a scale of one to ten, but the part of us that chooses health over bad habits, dysfunction, stuckness, and negativity cannot be isolated, bottled, marketed, or sold.
I recently read a poem that a friend shared with me. She had attended a yoga class, and a poem was read; it struck her as helpful, insightful and meaningful. On reading it, I felt it was a brilliant description of the unmeasurable mystery of what drives us … what drives us to make better choices in our lives, to take risks in order to live more meaningful lives, and to open our hearts to connect with others.
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
– For a New Beginning
by John O’Donohue
Thank you Banu.