Of all the connections that could be gained, I count this one as possibly the most rewarding. Our relationship with ourselves serves as a mirror for how we view and relate to the world around us. To see possibilities in others, we first see the possibilities in ourselves. In short, a healthy relationship with others starts with a healthy relationship with ourselves. And with Mercury in retrograde for the next three weeks, this is an ideal time and space for reflection and connection.
First, a disclaimer. I am no sage advisor. I am not Iyanla or Oprah. So I won’t approach these articles as though I have all the answers. What I do have are my experiences, and those I am willing to share with you in hopes that we can learn from one another.
That being said, one of the most profound and deeply rooted principles at work in my earlier life that caused me to lose a healthy connection to my “self” is the idea that my mind, body, and spirit are separate and unequal entities – with the mind and spirit reigning supreme and the body, or flesh, possessing taboo-like qualities and desires that needed to be suppressed altogether.
I won’t spend too much time delving into the backstory. What I will say is that as an adolescent girl, this idea at work in my life made puberty a very polarizing experience. I mean, how does a young girl embrace her budding breasts, developing curves, and reconcile with urges, feelings, and attention she’s never experienced when exploration of this new self is highly discouraged?
There existed a clear division between what was happening within me – which was going to happen no matter what because, well that’s nature – and what a young girl was supposed to do with all of it. I wish I had learned how to embrace it, feel it, nurture it, and express it in a healthy way as I was growing up. But alas, that was not my story.
Enter grown woman LaToya… In adulthood, it’s socially acceptable to accentuate curves with my choice of clothing, to highlight my eyes and lips with sultry make-up applications, and to be proud of the way my hips sway when I walk. But I disconnected from my body a long time ago, so grown-up me had to learn to shed the shame that was once associated with my budding feminity and learn to reconnect with my body again. To stop denying myself of myself. And find ways to reignite the mind-body-spirit connection.
There is an innate wisdom within our bodies that’s always there waiting to teach us. Learning to hear it and connect with it again has reignited my zest for life like nothing else. Dance is one of the most powerful means I have found of making that connection. Few things unite and simultaneously free my soul, my body, and my mind like dance and song.
Another way I rekindle my connection to self is through yoga. I started learning Ashtanga yoga at the turn of the new year 2018. While this type of yoga may appear to be very athletic, it’s the focus on the breath and the mindfulness aspect that help me find alignment. The body is used as a tool to go inward and find focus and resilience.
And this practice has been very revealing for me. Through it, I have become better aware of how I view myself – of my own limiting beliefs, of how I deal with resistance in life, of how I show up (or rather how I don’t show up) in life. I am learning how to listen to my body and quiet my mind as well as be a better version of myself through this practice. And the physical strength I am gaining is an added plus!
Mornings matter. The mind state and energy I conjure within the first hour of my day has a tremendous impact on my perspective. If I start out rushed, I will feel like I am simply chasing my tail – ALL. DAY. LONG. I spent years like this, working in the hospital setting, and I actually thought it was normal. I began to sense the need for a morning routine at the turn of the year and have since then incorporated a few constants that have already made a major impact on my outlook on the day ahead. I feel more aligned, more positive, and more productive as a result.
Now, I won’t claim to be most disciplined where my morning routine is concerned. There is definite room for improvement here. But my routine typically looks like this.
Numero uno, I don’t reach for my phone (read: social media, emails, blogs, or news outlets) first thing after I wake up. I do use the phone as my alarm clock but as soon as I silence it, the phone goes away again. I then turn and reach for my husband. I acknowledge our love and express silent gratitude for it first thing every morning. I then consider three more things that I am truly grateful for…new things each day. Lately, I have been writing them down in a journal. If I have a dream, I also write it down in that journal before I get out of bed. I find that I am able to tap into my subconscious mind better at that time of the day, so recall of the dream is clearer.
I also stretch first thing in the morning. Sometimes that a few calf and thigh stretches. Sometimes that’s a full 90-minute yoga session at the yoga shala. And some variations in between.
Drawing the drapes back to bathe myself and my home in the sunshine is also a key part of my routine every day. Even if I am leaving for work and have to close them up again just minutes later, it is like a breath of fresh air to me that I look forward to immensely.
Oh, I almost forgot, before I leave my room for the day, I make my bed. This sounds small but it changes the entire mood and vibration of the room. It adds serenity and a welcoming feeling to the room.
Recently, a friend (thank you Rhonda!) shared with me her morning routine and I was so impressed. She mentioned that she does a guided meditation and takes a walk every morning, which are both things I would plan to try soon.
This is one of my favorite forms of self-care and means of being reacquainted with myself – the ritual bath. It’s a time that I use to cleanse not only my body but my energy as well. I have actually been doing this since I was a teenager, though I hadn’t awakened to the spiritual nature of it yet. While no two experiences are exactly the same, this is what it looks like in general: a tub full of warm/hot water, incense or palo santo burning, little to no artificial lighting, candlelight, a glass of water or tea, and some Earth elements for my bathwater. Sometimes I use an herbal brew (bush bath), bath salts, bubbles/bath bombs, flower petals, etc. Sometimes I leave the lights on so that I can read a book. If I am not feeling troubled or weighed down going into this moment, I may decide to listen to music or to read a book.
But most importantly, I use the time to RELEASE. I do some deep breathing and I search my thoughts and feelings. I acknowledge anything that comes to mind. I might pray. I might cry. This is a space for me to talk things out with myself and let go of anything that weighs me down energetically. Nearing the end of the bath, I try to envision myself as a source of light, with that light radiating my entire being on every inhalation and filling up the dark, dimly lit room with every exhalation. The goal is to leave my bath feeling whole and light-hearted again. I try to follow these baths with special attention to my facial and skincare – plenty of water and healing lotions, oils, toner, essences, etc. I will share more on that at a later time.
Now I know we don’t always have time for these kinds of lengthy soaks. I hear you. Neither do I. This is not a daily occurrence. When I need a release and don’t have a lot of time, I use my normal everyday shower time as the vehicle for rejuvenation. This is what it looks like for me: lights off with only the glow of the moon and my incense or candle burning, an acknowledgment of what’s troubling me or weighing me down, and a symbolic cleanse of my energy through the cleansing of my body. I use a milky, nourishing body wash with a soothing, grounding scent. And I make sure to get behind my ears and between each of my toes – leaving no space for negativity to linger. Now, I realize that what I am doing in the physical realm is just washing my body but like I mentioned earlier – there is a mind-body-spirit connection – and that is what I am symbolically tapping into.
Ironically, another great way that I tap into self-connection, as well as ALL other types of connection we’ll discuss, is by implementing tech-free time into my routine. I set boundaries on my phone so that I don’t get disturbed at certain times of the day. I’ll go out for a walk without my phone. Now that the summer is here, there is so much to look at on my walks around the neighborhood. All the flowers in bloom. The bees buzzing around. The butterflies fluttering. The birds making nests in my hanging planters as they do every year. It’s a great way to be present.
Lastly, there is much self-discovery and healing that can be made through the process of designing, decorating, and styling our homes. If you have read my very first blog post, then you know that this was a vehicle for healing after my divorce. And through it, I learned so much about myself. I have found that surrounding myself with elements of Earth helps to ground me. I naturally gravitate toward brick and stone elements, warm, rich woods, plenty of live greenery, and jewel and moody tones. When I lived in the islands, I loved walking barefoot on the ground and bathing under the sun, moon, and stars. So I love that my bathroom is clad in natural stone and has a skylight that lets me see the moon in the evenings and watch the rain when storms come through.
To say the least, the process of creating a home that was reflective the person I wanted to be was a truly cathartic one that helped me create the supportive and empowering environment I needed to be self-sufficient and pursue my dreams – even if I was relatively alone in doing so.
If you are seeking to make a stronger connection to yourself, take stock of what you feel dissonance within your home, what feels other to you. You may be surprised that something that felt totally like YOU 10 years ago is now something you have outgrown or that is now associated with pain, shame, or guilt -or at least is associated with a time of life that you are ready to move on from. Nothing is wrong with that. Thank that piece of your past for what it has taught you and let it go.
Additionally, take some time to consider what you need from your home. Are you seeking an oasis from the busy, hectic world outside your doors? Do you need to feel energized? What items in your home bring you a smile or a pleasant memory? Do any of them invoke the love and support of your family and/or ancestors? Incorporate these items together with a cohesive color scheme aimed at supporting your goals for how you want to live and feel in your space. Of course, if you’d rather not go it alone, you can always consult with me. I am truly passionate about this if you can’t already tell.
Well, friends, I sincerely thank you for reading. I hope you found this information helpful and relatable. There are many more ways out there to reground ourselves beyond what I have shared here today. I would love to know how you reestablish your connection too. Let me know in the comments below. Until next time…