I think that self care is essential to emotional well being. It is more than about treating oneself to a massage or taking a mineral bath. Although, these are a lovely part of a self care practice, the care of oneself is far more encompassing.

Deeply caring for oneself is to be cultivated daily and includes the care of one's mind, body, and spirit. Each person's needs are different and getting to know how to care for yourself is related to getting to know your own needs and acknowledging what these might be. This might include distancing or saying no to things that do not support who you are, making sure there is enough ordinary pleasure in the day, pausing in between tasks, taking things slow on the inside even though things feel fast paced on the outside, and nourishing yourself well - not just with food but with all the senses such as sound, touch, sight.

There was a time when I had virtually no self care practice but over the years, I have come to value a deep self care practice. I like to nurture myself by connecting with the beauty of pure botanicals with a simple skin care routine of placing a few drops of Frankincense essential oil on my body brush before brushing my body followed by cleansing and moisturising with the purest, amazing aromatic oils by Living Libations. I like to spend some quiet time outside in the sun before starting my day. I prepare herbal infusions, whatever I feel my body might need; sometimes it is nettle, other times, rose, hibiscus, horsetail, and passionflower. I love hibiscus or rose infusions mixed with coconut kefir by Peace, Love and Vegetables.

I try not to overload my days but this is not always possible and I like to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. I like to eat organic, whole food, raw chocolate and take pleasure in cafes. I take particular care to process my feelings throughout the day, taking note of any triggers, insecurities, stresses, shadowy sides of myself that might get activated; some I can work through immediately, others need more time. I am constantly refining my capacity to say no and to clear things that no longer serve me or that no longer feel aligned to who I am. These include physical items, ideas, beliefs, people, relationships, and ways of being. I listen to myself more than others to strengthen my self trust muscle and I strive for compassion rather than perfection.

Self care runs through my life as a compass, keeping me grounded, connected, joyful, and my intuition honed. Do you have a self care practice? How much do you value the care of yourself? How can you begin to create a self care practice? Find out what feels essential to your well being and take steps toward meeting those needs on a daily basis and see for yourself what changes this may bring to your life.

I don't know when it started but somehow we are living with a cultural message that emotional pain and discomfort is an illness, like a physical illness, that needs to be diagnosed, treated, cut out, and cured. Everyone seems to be searching for the magic answer that will enable a pain-free, utopian life. A wellness consumerism has evolved, luring those who are unhappy or fearful or want more from an aspect of their lives, toward a promising solution. And yet, sometimes our experiences just have to stand as they are.

We have become impatient, anxious, and omnipotent toward our emotional experiences (and that of others), as if we should know the answers to everything. We have become intolerant and unable to bear the pain of not knowing and being with all of our experiences, including the most unwanted, anxiety-provoking, and painful feelings, which inform the edges of our development.

However, there are times in our lives when our suffering and confusion is too great to bear alone and we need someone to travel alongside us until we can carry more graciously our own baggage of insecurities, fears, losses, and difficulties. There is no cure for our human experiences, rather, it's as Arthur Miller wrote in The Death of a Salesman:

'I think it's a mistake to ever look for hope outside of one's self. One day the house smells of fresh bread, the next of smoke and blood. One day you faint because the gardener cuts his finger off, within a week you're climbing over corpses of children bombed in a subway. What hope can there be if that is so? I tried to die near the end of the war. The same dream returned each night until I dared not to go to sleep and grew quite ill. I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream I saw it was my life, and it was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought, if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to it's broken face, and it was horrible...but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one's life in one's arms.'

I have recently moved into a beautiful space with a massage therapist, Aleshia Marie. She offers exceptional bespoke treatments with the most luxurious attention to detail. Aleshia Marie herself radiates beauty. As soon as you step into the doors, you are met with the tranquility of timber flooring, linen furnishings, and the charming details of an old railway cottage. In the presence of this kind of beauty, I feel peaceful and integrated. This got me thinking about the grounding capacity of beauty.

The late John O'Donohue wrote about the healing and integrating nature of beauty and how in modern living, we have confused an aggressive, commercial, superficial glamour for beauty. When life feels heavy and full of worries, small offerings of beauty, those gentle moments of care and connection, the silence of nature, or the steadying rhythm of waves, can help us to endure the most bleak and testing times. There is no need to push, prove, or be in competition. A peaceful trust can begin to wash over. There is no difficulty that can contaminate us if we are able to find a place of beauty in which to reside, even if the only place is somewhere within ourselves.

In modern living, we have become so fixated and focussed on our points of vulnerability and imperfection that we can become harsh, ugly, and mean to ourselves and to others. Discovering the beauty of grace, which I think is a quiet presence of kindness, can bring compassion and understanding to those unwanted flaws and help us to carry our own baggage more beautifully.

It was Blaise Pascal who said: In difficult times you should always carry something beautiful in your mind.