“Your project is you.” I’m in a year-long internship program with a Kahuna and was being given my project for the year. “Usually I allow people to choose their projects, but you have enough going on,” my Kahuna explained. “I want you to really make use of all the time periods when you could be checking email, reading a magazine or generally wasting time, and instead use it to nourish yourself.”
Inwardly, I breathed a sigh of relief. I had planned an elaborate garden for the backyard of our new home, intending to honor the five elements through its creation and maintenance. (Our projects were to foster harmony for our environment or for the planet.) Instead, I knew that she was right on. I was 7 months pregnant with baby number two; soon my energy would be spent nourishing a tiny being, and time would become even more precious and scarce.
“Write down the actions you take,” she went on, “to reinforce to your personality that you are worth taking care of… Even if it’s just the act of massaging your belly when you’re in the shower.”
Over the following months I recorded my nourishing acts in a notebook. My project kept me acutely aware of when I was wasting moments that could be used for self-care. I took advantage of the time in line at the checkout, of waiting for my son to finish his snack and more. I took five minutes here and ten minutes there, to practice a few yoga postures, do some deep breathing, or give myself a Hawaiian healing. Even if my son was playing noisily, I dedicated some time to meditation.
When baby came, this continued. Breastfeeding became a time to nourish both baby and myself, through deep breaths, meditation, or yoga nidra. I felt that I had the space to process the birth, and also to connect with my new son. Kahuna’s words came to mind. “By taking care of yourself in this way, you’ll teach your boys to do the same.” Not only that; it allows me to approach them with a calmer mind and more peaceful state of being.
Now that’s a project worth doing.
Image Credit: Christina DeHoff