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The Healing Power of Deep Self-Love

An Indigenous approach to self-nurturing while nurturing others

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For many, the world currently feels treacherous. Everyone I know is struggling, including counsellors, healers, and traditional Knowledge Keepers and Healers. It is as if all the knowledge we have carefully learned, nurtured, and held is not enough for these times.

We focus here on a new way of being authentically present to self while tending what some Indigenous people call the “home fire” and responsibilities. We’ll look at how to grow self-love while nurturing others in this critical time, when nurturing the nurturer has become utterly vital, sacred.

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Why cultivate a practice of deepening self-love?

Unconditional love for self heals and nurtures every aspect of our beings; it helps us face fear and hopelessness and refocus on hope, gratitude, and beauty. We may not have been prepared for these unprecedented times, but neither do we need to fall victim to them.

Our forgotten inner little ones can remember to revel in the simple things instead of focusing on burdens. But this is a constant practice, almost a continuum to meditation, each minute of each day, that requires an extraordinary level of self-awareness.

This truly is the way home to ourselves. This is the gift that has come to us—one of many gifts: we can choose to focus on the beauty, with thankfulness.

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Let’s return to our own paths

Hope is key. There are so many who are hopeless, who have lost trust and belief in anything. Let’s find a new way forward together, because more than ever before, we need circles and community. We need the power of the collective.

I spoke with three diverse and magnificent Indigenous women from Tsartlip, Ahousaht, and Yellowknives Dene First Nations, to explore both traditional and current women’s roles in our Indigenous traditions as caretakers of family, home, work, and community as well as the expectations of community, cultural obligations, and guilt.

We went deep into self-love, and how traditional practices of reciprocity support us. As women who live in an urban setting out of necessity, we had to create our own communities. And we endure our burden of history: as Indigenous women, we have had to develop extraordinary resilience, often alone. We learned to create circles out of necessity.

There is so much all women can take from this. As one interviewee, ciiqaptuul (Jaquie Adams) said, “We [Indigenous] have stepped up to be warrior women without Aunties and Grandmothers watching kids or bringing meals, without a village.”

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Self-love is strength training, ensuring balance

How to begin? Commit to unconditional self-love and -respect. Treat yourself as you would your best friend. Warriors must care for self. This goes beyond the surface self-care of candlelit baths, into truly loving ourselves unconditionally, by creating deep care that will nurture and build strength and resilience so that we never crash and burn.

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How do we deepen self-love to nurture self?

Never compare yourself to others. Reach for help before you need it, and feel no shame about doing so. Have conversations with your partners or a reciprocity circle about the sharing of roles/responsibilities.

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Be awake and disciplined about your own needs

See self-kindness as a sacred responsibility, the responsibility to nurture yourself and others: the reciprocity factor. Take and give from yourself equally. Remember that small lapses in self-nurturing can lead to big lapses.

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Be continually present to yourself

Continually clear stress and negative feelings. Discipline yourself: rather than trading a workout for a nap, find room for both. Generate motivation when it’s lacking by gifting yourself practices in your strategy that nurture and sustain you even when you would prefer to isolate.

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Lose the guilt

Drop the burdens of guilt and shame. Be vigilant! “The more I go into Nuu-chah-nulth tradition, the less guilt I have,” says ciiqaptuul.  

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Practise deepening self-love

Aim for peace. Respond to yourself in the moment. Go to sleep earlier. “REM provides dream guidance,” says Katlia Rafferty.

Awaken earlier. “I sit in the dark … enjoy my coffee,” adds Zinco Somes Stlani (Jessica Underwood).

Craft during breaks.

Nurture soul.

Walk by—and smell—water.

Look for rocks.

Talk to ravens.

Be still.

Allow peace.

Talk to an Elder.

Cry.

Mentor and delegate.

Be okay with saying “not now.”

Create a retreat space.

Be with yourself, reflect, read.

Create.

Meditate; practise <not> thinking.

Know the power of ritual.

Revel in tradition.

Enjoy little things.

Sit in darkness.

Honour your introvert.

Nap.

Commune with a circle, laugh.

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Aim for balance

Be conscious, and ask for help when needed. Form a support circle; give and take equally. Rebalance by sharing roles: being a giver or taker.

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Reciprocate

Create a “giving back” or “paying it forward” circle. “Reciprocity is the foundation of good relationships. It’s how we have survived; we nurture each other,” says Zinco Somes Stlani.

“We lived reciprocity before contact. In a world of greed, hoarding, selfishness … bring reciprocity back to our circles,” recommends ciiqaptuul.

Getting social with Indigenous self-care

Indigenous women to follow on social media who are good examples of meaningful self-care.

Twitter

  • Carrington: @carrchristmas
  • Atlohsa: @atlohsa

YouTube

Facebook

TikTok

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