Self-Care By Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe


I see self-care as a recognition that our personal wellbeing - physical and emotional - is a determining factor in the quality of our lives. When Island Girls Rock invited me to host the Wellness Brunch last year, I shared The Koshas, a yogic concept I use in both self-reflection and as an assessment tool in Yoga Therapy. When we look at these five layers (Koshas) of our being we can get a clearer picture of what areas of Self actually need some Care. There is no one size fits all self-care. How you nurture yourself may look very different than someone else’s technique.

In essence, when we are deeply being self-nurturing we are building our insight, adaptability and resilience. One aspect of this is reviewing the stories we repeat internally. Our perspectives drive how we relate to ourselves, our work and the people in our lives. The stories we repeat the most are the ones that become our perspective, but they are not always the ones that are most true.
Self-care is a journey towards mindfulness. It is an attempt to move through the world as consciously as possible, recognizing the beliefs and intentions that are directing our actions and inactions. This requires cultivating the ability to check our lenses to make sure they are clear and that the prescription is still relevant. Outdated lenses aren’t helping move anyone forward, least of all you.

Here are my top three tips for creating a framework for this kind of self-care based on mindfulness:

1. Organize Yourself
Don’t be afraid to look at the full landscape of your life. Create a trusted system to capture all the things you are juggling - from replacing the lightbulb in your hallway to drafting your business plan. The idea of surveying everything you need (and want) to do can seem overwhelming. Documenting your tasks, goals etc. gives your brain permission to let go and stop sending stress signals to remind you of these tasks.
I keep my master lists on WorkFlowy and then add my priorities for the month into my bullet journal notebook. You can have a look at my new bullet journal set up in a recent video here.
Commit time, over the course of a few days, to write down everything you have to do. Organize it into categories that make sense for your life. Adapt your system as much as necessary to keep it relevant and working for you. Review your landscape often.

2. Practice Gratitude
We live in a culture of complaint. Practicing gratitude helps break this cycle and align us with those things that feed our joy. Stephanie Dowrick once said, “Spirituality, when it is radical enough, invites us into the bigness, the gloriousness of existence… invites us to be brave.” Gratitude is at the heart of my spiritual practice, it reminds me of how deeply connected I am to all that is. It also has proven effects on all aspects of our being.
Try a Gratitude Log, I have one in my bullet journal and write one thing that I’m grateful for each day - big or small. If you’ve taken a yoga class with me, you know I end every practice with a meditation where we send gratitude inward, outward and in all directions. Make space to appreciate the people, places and circumstances that enhance your life. See how things shift when you make it a point to express your gratitude more, even if you do so silently.

3. Begin Again (and Again)

When I was growing up the idea of practice was mostly applied to “extra-curricular” activities like dance, sports or music. But over the years I’ve come to realize that every single part of a healthy balanced life is a practice. Self-care requires that we keep showing up even when we feel like we aren’t doing a good job, or when we haven’t shown up for ourselves in a while.
We tend to repeat the story of “[insert your name] the failure” when we don’t stick to something we committed to. Accept that you may not meditate every single day or stay organized all the time. Don’t use that as an excuse to give up trying. Recognize that commitment is not a one-time event, it is an ongoing practice. Don’t be afraid to begin as many times as it takes to give yourself a healthy dose of whatever you need!

Malaika is an advanced teacher of therapeutic yoga, doula and a visual artist. She is the co-founder of Spice Harmony Yoga Studio in Grenada. You can practice yoga & meditation with her on YouTube and follow her on Instagram. Visit her blog for updates, schedules, reflections and much more.

Shari Cumberbatch