Everyone loves talking about love in February. Love is great and all, but my favorite part of Valentine’s Day is the ‘pink food’ I have an excuse to indulge in. Pink frosted cookies, pink cake and pink champagne are some of my faves. After all, love is associated with sweet taste, a taste, according to Ayurveda, that grounds us and offers comfort. That’s part of the reason sweets are so popular.
In our busy, over-stimulated lives where our nervous systems are often stretched to the max, sweets offer us a taste of love and a sense of contentment. It’s way easier to pacify ourselves with sweet foods compared to the commitment and discipline it takes to cultivate love, contentment, comfort and confidence with practices of self-care.
As outdoor and paddling enthusiasts it’s a little easier for us because we turn to our favorite activities for self-care. Going out on the water can reduce stress and inject joy and love into our lives. My version of self-care and self-love for the longest time consisted in doing what I love on and off the water. Sounds dreamy right?
Then I read this line in a book by a wise teacher: “If you can joyfully do whatever is needed in a given situation, this is freedom. But limiting yourself to doing only what you like is a horribly compulsive way to live.”
Whoa! The ‘horribly compulsive’ part was confronting to me. Isn’t freedom the ability to choose whatever you want to choose? I pondered this for awhile and realized that my choice of having a sweet (or a latte) everyday wasn’t really freedom. The lattes and sweets actually have control over me because, deep under the surface, I hold the belief that if I don’t have them my life won’t be fulfilled. Another whoa! There is more freedom in listening to what my body really wants and not compulsively pacifying myself with certain foods.
I’ve come to realize that there is freedom and love in discipline and commitment. Just as the banks of a river create the container for water to flow and dance powerfully, so does discipline create a container for us to live powerfully. If there were no banks there would be no river. Without discipline there is no self-love.
This February I’m really taking on discipline, giving up the sweet pink food and taking on an Ayurvedic cleanse called Panchakarma (Five Cleansing Actions). It’s an intense detoxification process for the body that lasts about 19 days. Luckily whitewater kayaking and SUPing have trained me well in mental discipline and commitment. I can apply my ability to face fears, endure harsh conditions and push my limits to the world of self-care through diet and lifestyle. I take this on because I practice self-love.
In our culture self-love can often be equated with being indulgent or selfish. There is nothing farther from the truth. Self-love is badass! It requires challenging ourselves – and it doesn’t require doing a big cleanse. There are simple daily self-care/self-love practices that we can incorporate every day that will give us more freedom. It’s possible to experience the joy, confidence and sweetness that we experience on the water in all aspects of our lives. I know we’re up for the challenge!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to create freedom through discipline then join me for an Art of Self Care Retreat, I offer three different ones throughout the year in connection with the seasons.