There is a reason, on airplanes, when those oxygen masks fall, that you put yours on first. Before your spouse, your kids, your newfound lover. That bit of oxygen, once you put it on, allows you to stay alive long enough to help anyone and everyone around you stay alive too.
I talk with so many people, completely depleted, riddled with guilt, who give all their attention to their families, friends, work – anything and anyone but themselves. They feel guilty just being in my office, guilty about the money and time they are spending on an indulgence like massage or finding joy.
And then, the miraculous happens. They relax and become invigorated. Their blood gets moving, their muscles become more fluid, their heads gets clearer, they sleep better. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen big inspiration strike on a massage table, how clear life becomes when stress fades away. That clarity revitalizes their passion for life, and it spreads like a wave into everyone they meet, everyone they love. I’ve even seen those feelings of self assurance blossom into new romance.
Aliveness isn’t just something to consider when death or depression comes knocking. Aliveness is the vitality to move strongly in the world, to create, to offer our own compassion again and again, at home, at work. Everywhere that it matters. We need to recharge and give ourselves a small gift of appreciation and love. Every day. And then indulge in some serious pampering once a month. Once a week is even better.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a massage. Perhaps it’s a walk in the mountains, a few moments of meditation, listening to your favorite music, reading a good book.
Go to a seminar. Talk to a friend. Take a nap. Exercise. Make love. Eat a great meal. Stop and breathe. It’s good to have several possibilities, maybe even written down, so when your head is muddled with life, you can find your way out of the fog.
Recently, my wife was thrown from her horse, breaking several bones in her back. Nothing threatening to the spinal cord, no permanent injury (thank goodness!), but a long and painful recovery, with constant care for the first couple of weeks. By the end of the day, she and I are both exhausted. But on the days when I’ve taken some time to recharge myself, I have so much more to offer her as she heals.
Go ahead. Give yourself a little love. And discover what that extra vitality can bring.