As a caregiver, a teacher and a parent, I often use the concept of a “needs inventory” to determine what my children and students need. Should I review the major points of the lesson? Is it appropriate for them to revise their work? Do they need someone to listen to them, bolster their confidence, supply a bit of advice or encouragement? Then there are the simple questions. Are you hungry, thirsty, too hot or cold? Did you get enough sleep?
This week has been a tough one for many including myself. The change in season is becoming evident. People are catching colds, or have allergies, and the work load appears to be increasing. Our modern society is geared toward efficiency, many times at the expense of our humanity. The body is not a machine that can be endlessly driven toward greater production. In it’s most elegant sense, the body is a community of living organisms. You house all manner of specialized eukaryotic cells in tissue villages, as well as symbiotic bacteria that produce vitamins and help you to digest your food. All these tiny creatures need care, nutritious food, clean water, exercise, and sleep! Caring for your own needs so that you can be present to others is engaging in the practice of the corporal works of mercy.
I found that while I care for other people, I am guilty of putting my own needs last. So I decided to practice gratitude for the multi-cellular menagerie that I call “me”. I needed to slow down this week and drink enough water because of the heat. I also need to make sure I get enough sleep. It is a form of compassion for the community of living beings (skin cells, liver cells, heart cells, brain cells) that depend on me to keep them healthy. My body forms my soul and the soul (life) sustains the body. Both of these are the gifts of Existence. How can I deny such an incredible gift?
So I decided that today, I am going to fight the system that reveres efficiency, assembly line work, production of commodities, and tireless labor by taking a nap! I will practice graditude for the menagerie that is me.
The video below features David Steindl-Rast, a Trappist Monk who practices gratitude for all moments in life.
Eat, drink, nap, and have a lovely day!