April 2000 - Nurturing

People are often told they need to take better care of themselves. This can be a difficult concept to understand and practice. Either people have learned at a very early age that they are supposed to care for others or they have never been nurtured and therefore simply don't know how to do it. To nurture means to honor, value, esteem and care for. In order to care for yourself it is necessary to ask the question, what is the self? Simply asking that question directs the attention to what can be called the conscious self. And once you give attention to that conscious self, it is encouraged to grow and develop. Very simply, to nurture the self is to explore the self, to know the self.

This is a good time then to reflect on who you are. Take inventory. How is your physical being? Does it need attention? What kind of attention does it need? How is your emotional self? Does it need attention? What kind of attention? How is your spiritual self? Are you taking time to connect with the greater consciousness, your soul and spirit? The inventory does not need to become a pressure, yet another thing to do in a life that may be already filled with many tasks and demands. It is simply a framework for spending time with yourself, giving yourself attention. Try to find small ways of meeting the needs you become aware of. If your physical being is tired, look for an hour that day to do something relaxing. Keep your response to the inventory simple.

Loving, affirming attention is in itself nurturing. So many people in modern society have been starved for simple loving, nurturing attention. Take time this month to give yourself that attention. And then, perhaps, if you feel like it, take the time to give someone else that attention. That someone else can be an animal, a tree in your backyard, a friend, a partner, a child. That attention does not have to be given in the form of an inventory, lots of questions. It can be given in the form of an invitation: let's spend some time together. You can sit down with a tree and notice the delicate, intricate details of the bud, the leaves coming out, the bark. You can spend time with an animal, a cat curled in your lap, a walk with a dog, stopping to notice the bird flying overhead, stopping to say hello. You can invite a friend to dinner, light a candle, listen to music together. Take a child to the park. And as you pay attention to the detail of the experience, its texture, its richness, your consciousness expands, your experience of life and yourself deepens, your awareness grows. As you hold the child's hand, really hold it, and notice what it feels like. Feel the energy passing from one to another, feel the connection. With this kind of attention, in nurturing another you do truly nurture yourself. Attention is nurturing. That which you give attention to flourishes and grows, gathers energy.

So the meditation for this month is simply to nurture yourself by being more aware in the moments of your life. It's not a task, a duty, a burden. It's an act of love.

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