Somewhere along the merry path of childhood, someone probably came along and told you not to play with fire. From the match to the flame, fire is full of fascination, yet in the hands of the uninitiated, fire is downright dangerous. What happens when we take this advice to heart? What happens if we never learn to play with fire?
From the physical to the spiritual, fire is essential for fueling everything from our digestion to our dreams. If we are looking to launch a project or bring visions to life, an inexhaustible flame is needed. Fire is our passion, the excitement in our belly on which our dreams take flight. For many, the fuel necessary to get through a day leaves little left over to start igniting our dreams. In extreme circumstances, the flame has simply burnt out.
By its very nature fire rises up; it uplifts our spirit and warms our heart. We all need a well-tended fire to maintain vitality, but what can we do when the fire dies out? When the energetic balance between giving and receiving has come undone, we suffer burn out. Modern lifestyles have placed excessive demands on our time and energy leaving us overscheduled, overworked and overextended in all areas of our life. Long hours of caretaking may leave little time for taking care of our self, but this time is essential if we expect to live a life of purpose and meaning.
Everyday I see people because they are in pain. For twenty-five years I have tended to the needs of those who are ill or injured through my work as a physiotherapist so I know the huge energy toll this kind of caretaking takes. This is the reason so many working in healthcare suffer this plight. It is not the giving that causes burn out but rather the lack of giving; and that giving needs to go to our self.
There is no recipe or formula that will take care of burn out for everyone but burn out is a call to take action in the art of self-care. And the only place to find the answer is to listen to your needs from within. This requires time and attention devoted each and every day. A simple yet profound practice that can help rekindle the inner flame is the inner smile. A smile has the power to heal and transform. Recall what it feels like to receive a smile, especially unexpectedly. Something inside us lights up. That is just the spark necessary to reignite the flame. For many this practice of smiling to our self is difficult at first. When we are feeling so depleted it can be the last thing we want to do. With a bit of time and practice, the art of an inner smile will create a flame of self-love that will not only spark, but also sustain, a healthy fire within. Take a moment to listen to the following guided meditation and begin tending to your sacred fire with the art of a smile.