When I hear the teacher say, “Dedicate this practice to someone who is in need of peace and love,” my shoulders relax. These gentle words nudge my thoughts away from guilt and towards grace. The self-shaming talk fades away and the intention for sharing peace and love takes its rightful place in my heart and mind.
The first time a yoga teacher invited me to dedicate my practice to someone else, a lightness entered into my being. Could it be that this invitation resonated with the words of Jesus who invites us to “do this in remembrance of me.” The sacrament of communion is not about the individual but is about connecting with the whole Body of Christ, with Jesus as the head of the Body.
Part of the power of the sacraments is that they point us away from ourselves and towards the greater Us, blessing our interconnectedness. Perhaps this is why both the sacrament of communion and the practice of yoga give me life. These rituals remind me of the unseen reality that we are interconnected in ways that give us life, reminding me that I am not alone, but that I am connected and loved.
I hear many people in caring professions who find it difficult to prioritize their own personal needs. This is especially difficult to do if in addition to being a paid care provider, we are also unpaid care providers in the home. When is there time for us? There’s too much work to do.
That is one reason why for many of us taking the time for self-care feels selfish and perhaps even sinful. Is it sinful to stop caring for others when Jesus clearly states we are to love our neighbors?
When the teacher invites us to dedicate our practice to someone in need of peace and love, something clicks inside. Could it be that self-care is a way to love my neighbor? While caring for my mind and my body, I am also caring for those I love.
As caregivers, what if we started to dedicate our healthy eating, our meditation, our prayer, our exercise, our rest, our therapy, and our play to others who need peace and love. Perhaps then we wouldn’t feel so selfish and ashamed for taking time for our own wellness.
It is not a sin to make our own wellness a priority. This is especially hard for women to believe because of our society’s unrealistic expectations of women. What if Jesus wants us to make our own wellness a priority? What if this is what he meant when he said to love our neighbors as ourselves? What if all of our neighbors had access to and time off from work for healthy food, exercise and therapy?
In this Easter season, I’m hoping to find new life in dedicated wellness. So the next time I go for a walk instead of reading email, or go to yoga instead of making a phone call, or go to therapy instead of doing the laundry, I can do these things knowing they are part of the sacrament that makes me whole and that brings peace and love to the world. And Jesus says, “Do this in remembrance of me.”