Taking care of number one

Do you prioritise your own practice? By Jo De Rosa

Take care of number one

Let’s face it, life is busy. We all have a million things to do, classes to get to, kids to organise and whatever else lies within our commitments. Often it is our own needs that are not met and our personal practice can easily become buried, as we fall victim to the land of the overworked. We pile on the pressure to be our best and can forget the foundation of the teachings; the balance has gone out the window.

When we get caught up in our outer world, with no time for inner truth, our teaching becomes inconsistent, incongruent and out of alignment with who we really are. This is when resistance to teach rears its ugly head and it can be difficult to get on the mat altogether. We become resentful of those that find teaching and their practice effortless, and we wonder where did it all go wrong?

It’s time to go back to basics.
It’s time to slow down.
We must begin to put ourselves, not our students, family or friends, first again; something that us empaths find very difficult indeed.

“Ensure you put your own oxygen mask on first, before you tend to children”

We take this instruction for granted when travelling around the globe on a plane, but take the same advice for everyday life and it is like a language we can’t comprehend. ‘Put myself first?’, ‘Look after my own needs before those of others?’; these deeds seem preposterous, yet it is vital to do if we are to guide others to wellbeing. After all, who are we to teach if we are not living ourselves by our own rules?

So rather than living from the outside in and being dictated to by our outer environment, we must reverse this tendency of putting everyone else first and honour our own needs. This is when even just ten minutes on our mat can make all the difference to our day.

Think about how your day goes with and without practice:

You oversleep because you’re not getting good quality sleep, groggy, chasing your tail to get ready, late, feeling totally overwhelmed.

You get great sleep, are alert, ready for the day, enough time for morning practice, feeling in control and priorities are clear.

It literally is a no brainer, and of course we know this on a deep level but still, our conditioned beliefs rise to the surface now and again. And this time of year as the days get shorter it’s crucial that we practice more; when the pressure mounts rather than shy away from time on the mat with the burden of ‘I haven’t got time’, it is exactly these moments that we need extra practice.
And it is this development of time and self that ultimately can be one of the important gifts we can give our students. For we all remember when our practice flipped over from attending classes to having the discipline for our own practice; it’s a big step and one that can falter along the way. But it is imperative that we dig deep and put ourselves first, for there are many relying on and looking to us for answers to their own conflicting and disconnected lives.
So why not hop onto your mat now for a quick Adho Mukha Svanasana. Connect to your breath, drop down into your heart and open up the door to freedom. As teachers, our own practice is our self-care and should be something that we bestow on ourselves daily to keep the tank topped up. Is your practice at the top of your priority list? And if not, why not?

Jo De Rosa is the founder and director of Inner Guidance Retreat Centre in Lavenham, Suffolk (innerguidance.co.uk)

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