‘How long has that beam holding this house up?’ I thought as I lay in my bed with a flu at the end of last December. Just then I had an epiphany. I was completely, 100%, and totally burnt out. I had absolutely NOTHING to give to others any longer and all I could do was to stay in bed and wonder how I got here.
You might think that because of my profession as a yoga teacher, this kind of thing never happens in my life. My friends, you are wrong and I am the living proof! Yes I do have the tools to avoid the burnout in life. Whether I am wise enough to continuously and consciously use them to myself is completely another matter. Obviously I was so into my mission of being a savior to others that I kept ignoring all the little signals. I kept telling myself ‘I can do this’. Well, I could not. I teach others to honor their needs yet I have completely failed to honor my own.
However, within every challenge and difficulty lies the teacher. In my case of burn out the positive side was that it got me REALLY thinking about how I can nourish myself in better ways. As a woman who grew up in quite traditional Japanese culture where women are expected to take up a role of giver and care for others, the idea of serving others is deeply ingrained in my DNA, probably more so than I care to admit. By speaking to my female friends from different cultural background, however, I have realized that it is not only about being Japanese that made me the way I am. Women in general, especially when we become mothers, tend to put ourselves at the last of our priority list. Does this sound familiar to you?
I thought about getting a massage, going out with girlfriends, and long candle lit bath times. They are indeed very good things to do on a regular basis. Having said that, as a woman who thrives in the murkiness and mystery of the deep ocean we call life, they were just a tad bit superficial. So I could not give up my search until I found a solid, soul-nourishing level of answer to this issue.
I thought about taking classes once a week that interested me. I also thought about traveling alone and visiting dear friends who lived near and far. Because I am a person who recharges her battery by spending time alone, I thought about going for a long hike alone with nothing but a backpack on my back. I wanted to come up with a way to ensure that I take time for myself and myself only.
Then my very unconventional and genius therapist told me about the concept of woman lodge. It is known as moon lodge in Native American traditions.
Woman lodge is a bit similar concept to man cave. Man cave is a place and sanctuary such as a specially equipped garage, spare bedroom, media room, den, or basement where man can be alone and think (or not to think… and do some other stuff like scratch their butts).
However woman lodge in essence is quite different from man cave. Unlike some other cultures where blood of women are treated as ‘dirty’, in Native American tradition, women in menstruation are considered to be so powerful and her intuition so strong that she needed to be away from daily chores and away from men who are afraid of the power of women during moon cycle. Tibetan lamas and Celts believed that women during menstruation have mediumistic abilities.
Woman lodge (moon lodge) was open only to women and all significant event in woman’s life such as childbirth took place inside this tipi lodge. Woman in menstruation would spend 4 days every month in the lodge free from household chores, child caring and cooking. All they did was share stories, nit together, rest and have time to connect back to herself.
Doesn’t this sound wonderful? 4 days off EVERY MONTH? Now I don’t know about you but to me this sounds like an ideal way to truly honor my womanhood and nourish my soul so I am IN! I will be more than happy with even 3 days of 'me time' every month.
So I have decided to implement this concept in our new house, which should be completed by May this year. Until then I am going to find my woman cave somewhere in the world every month. You are more than welcome to come join me if this idea appeals to you!
What are your favourite ways to nourish and take care of yourself?
Please leave your comments and suggestions below and help inspire others to do the same!