Angelina Ruiz. Self-Portrait. Digital, 2013.
Angelina Ruiz. Self-Portrait. Digital, 2013.

As far back as I can remember myself at school, and all the feelings associated with early childhood spent in that environment, I can still see and feel the dread of anything related to math and formulas, versus the joyful bliss of reading, writing or just drawing. I also have vivid memories of not feeling “normal” when a friend (the kind who understands math in two seconds, while you’d get it even faster if it were an essay in Japanese) would tell me: “It’s so easy, you just have to apply the formula. What’s there to understand?”

Right there, that was the beginning of me pondering over the concept of “formulas” and all kind of social niceties in general. The idea of taking care of yourself is one of them. In French, we say: prenez soin de vous, or prends soin de toi, depending on whether we use a “polite” formula or know the person well, or whether or not it’s plural.

I always interpreted it as a way to give a blessing to someone. To remind her or him that keeping in good health is of utmost importance. And that’s indeed what it’s supposed to stand for. In the same way we say and write “Take care” automatically every single day, we also say “How are you?” And the answer generally comes out as fast as a bullet: “Good,how are you?” In most cases, while this all happens, we’re either texting or thinking of what comes next in our day, recollecting what just happened earlier, or even in a conversation with someone else (think of yourself with headphones at the register of a grocery store). So, why do we do this? Some, like my childhood friend, will say that it’s just how it is and ask what the hell you are you supposed to do anyway? Start a 10-minute conversation with everyone you interact with every day? I’d say, why not? But that’s not the point.

While we are busy multitasking, we often deprive each other from the real intention of what we say. If there is none of that between us, then what’s left? To me, taking care of ourselves and of others starts there: pausing for three seconds to reflect on the intention and authenticity of what we say, first to ourselves and then to others.

Think of all these little moments in our days as little bubbles we can either waste or fill in with empowering energy, and give to the ones we interact with. It’s free, circles back at us, and takes less time than checking our Instagram feed. The bonus is that it will probably make us more present, attract what some love to call “goodness” and positive vibrations.

Taking care of ourselves is not such an easy thing. Because the way we approach it is influenced by a million different things such as being able to differentiate what we really need as individuals from what friends, acquaintances or magazines rave about, what’s expected (or what we think is expected) from us within our families and social circles, our engrained education and/or lineage transmitted toxicity and traumas, our mind tricks and other unconscious spiritual bypasses. The list goes on. Instead of rushing through our days and having superficial interactions, maybe it’s time to put some of our awareness into easy daily moments with other human beings, mean the things we say, look at each other in the eyes and speak to each other’s hearts. Practicing authenticity is already taking care of ourselves and others.

Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates.
At the first gate, ask yourself: “Is it true?”
At the second gate, ask: “Is it necessary?”
At the third gate, ask: “Is it kind?”

Sufi Saying