Care to write?

Self-care is one of those words, like authenticity, creativity and trauma that is doing the rounds and has started to lose meaning.

It can mean anything as superficial as enjoying a cup of tea with your full attention, to having a bubble bath or treating yourself to some new stationery. Not to poo poo these pursuits, but self care is something far deeper and sustainable than these directives or material pleasures.

Try this experiment.

Take a seat. Sit on the chair as though you might stand up, but remain seated. Now, take your left hand and stroke your thigh from the hip to the knee. Lift your hand up and do it again. Repeat another few times. Now, rather than stroking, rub your thigh from the hip to the knee. Repeat until you’ve done about 4 repetitions. A third variation is to try brushing the thigh. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Stop.

Now close your eyes and think back to the last time you felt disappointed about something. Or sad, or upset. Recall that moment and when someone else put their hand out and touched you, to comfort you.

Hold that thought. See if you can recollect that sensation in the body, in your memory, and whether your breath is catching that.

Now think of a time when there was someone you loved, who was upset or needed support. How did you touch them, to give them comfort and show you care?

Return to the present, and to your thigh. Take your hand and place it – just place it – on your thigh, wherever you wish, with the intention of ‘care’.

Care for yourself.

Leave your hand on your thigh and experience what self-care could really truly feel like.

If you have experienced profound loneliness in your life (and I have), this is a simple exercise I use to summon self-compassion. It may afford you more access to words and attitudes that will assist your writing in particular, if for example the story needs to express intimacy or a sense of deep loving.

Maybe you could also experiment with different ways of touching your thigh – such as with contempt, or carelessly, or pushy. It can channel the feelings and attitude within you to make your writing come to life.

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