Restore your soul. Replenish your energy. Seek Yourself. No matter whether you have been pushed or pulled by situations and people it has only led to one thing—GROWTH.
The human condition wears us down. It is up to us to consciously evolve beyond the challenges so we can create a more radiant life. However, there is much more to our personal evolution than practicing basic self-care. We must learn how to restore our soul in order to achieve the highest levels of optimal living.
The word “rest” means to “cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself or recover strength”. When we think of self-care, we usually participate in activities known to help us rest—taking naps, watching television, reading books, getting massages and so on. However, optimal health requires more.
“Restoration” describes the action of returning something to a former condition. Therefore, we must look deeper into the needs of our inner self—our soul—in order to personalize our healing. We must seek our wisdom within to not only return ourselves to our original state but to also elevate us above where we started. This is evolution.
Over the last several months, I’ve had numerous conversations with clients to help them understand the difference between basic self-care and restoration. While our mind and body might need to relax, our souls need to restore. The problem is, we have generally been taught to do neither. Self-care is viewed as selfish and restoration is perceived as a luxury. That can change. And needs too!
In my upcoming book, The Healer’s Path to Post-COVID Recovery, I share the fact that trees inherently know how to restore. Peter Wohlleben, forestry expert and the author of The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World, offers a surprising but powerful understanding of what goes on beneath the bark in order to create a beautiful tree.
The beauty we see in trees—the vibrant green and rich bark—are all really the “trash” produced from what happens within. Chlorophyll is actually clear, while the color we see displays how much the tree processes, transmutes and filters to create the best show of what we recognize as the signature beauty of the image we see. What we really see is the result of what the tree has been through to remain alive. Trees inherently know how to “restore” themselves to bring us the best the show. Their magnificence is the product of their restorative process.
- What activities really restore me back to where I started?
- What can I do to elevate my energy above where I once was?
- What needs to be “cleaned out” or “filtered” in order to make space for a more optimal life?
- With the Soul Health Model in mind, what do I need to eliminate from each branch of health and what do I need to “fill up” with in order to create a more vibrant personal tree of life?
The difference between basic self-care and restorative practices has all to do with the intention we integrate into each activity. Author, Wayne Dyer, says “The power of intention manifests as an expression of expanding creativity, kindness, love, and beauty.” Therefore, when we consciously act in creative, kind, loving and beautiful ways toward ourselves, we restore beyond what basic self-care can accomplish. We not only take better care of ourselves, we also set a better stage for our evolution.
Let me give you some examples so you understand the difference between self-care and restorative practices.
Walking has long been my preferred form of regular physical activity. However, it is the intention I put into every step and path I take that makes the difference. I could walk on the treadmill in my basement, but that wouldn’t feed my soul nearly as much as walking among trees. I sometimes use the treadmill as basic self-care, but it is when I’m out in nature soaking up the sights, smells and sensations available all around me that I feel the most restored. If the weather doesn’t allow me to walk outside, I often hop on the treadmill, place my hand on the rail to stabilize me, then close my eyes as I walk in place. I focus within since I don’t have to focus outside of myself; instead, I turn my indoor walks into a walking meditation. Whether I’m walking outdoors or on the treadmill in my basement, I benefit most from the intention I place in every step.
At the end of every week, I take a long, hot salt bath. I don’t do this to clean my body, I do it to clean out my soul. I work long hours taking care of others and that time in the tub has served as my cue to take care of me instead. I light candles, dim the lights, and open the blinds to see the trees, sky or stars. I sometimes do some vocal toning or chanting to release any additional stress, then just allow the warm water to simply wash over me to sooth and replenish my soul. It is the intention I place on that time that restores and resets me for the days to come.
Restorative practices are much more personal than activities of self-care. Yes, we need to engage in physical activity and eat well to have a well-functioning body and mind. But we need to evaluate what will align ourselves—our souls—on a personal level in order to reach radiant health.
As part of your restorative process, a reminder of the Three Questions of Discernment might help you assess what will personally restore you on your soul health journey. Applying these questions to each activity of self-care will help you assess the level of restorative action each holds:
Is it meaningful? An activity can be necessary for self-care, but if it is not meaningful, it doesn’t likely restore you. Finding and creating meaning in your self-care practices will take them to a restorative level.
Is it necessary? This can be a tricky question—because others may not find our self-care activities “necessary” if it means taking attention away from them. However, remember that what is necessary for you to feel healthy and restored may not be the same thing for someone else. My walks and salt baths feed my soul, but these activities may not feed yours. You will need to identify your own necessary restorative practices.
Does it feed your soul? If a self-care activity doesn’t leave you feeling elated or satisfied, it likely doesn’t feed your soul. Is there something you can change about the activity to help it restore you to this level? Or do you need to explore other restorative activities altogether?
Restoration takes self-care to the soul–care level. Not only do we benefit from these activities on a daily basis, our overall health reaches optimal levels.
Take some time to explore your own self-care activities as you wind down the year. Perhaps you can set a new you by resetting your thoughts toward restorative action.
If you would like to learn more about turning self-care into soul-care, I’m giving you another option. I’ve lowered the price on my book, Recipe for Radiance: Mastering the Art of Self-Care for the month of December. This light-hearted instruction manual gives you some further tips on how to create a more restorative self-care “recipe” for optimal health. Click here for more information.