Tend Your Own Crop of Self-Cultivation

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Now, self-cultivation! This is a way of life and it takes time. Self-cultivation helps to build a sustainable life that is imbued with vibrant health, mental and emotional clarity and the most basic human need of all: happiness. I believe in the fast paced world we live in, with the ability to obtain essentially whatever we want and do it pretty quickly, self-cultivation isn't something we place as much emphasis on. If self-care are titbits of 'me time' that we return to now and then when its convenient or necessary; self-cultivation is deep work that takes place over a life time.

In ancient Chinese culture, there was a tendency to think of human life as a kind of open “field” that could be cultivated. This field is cultivated and tended. You cannot cultivate a field once, and have it stay that way forever... it is a continuous process. Same with oneself - to a large extent our health and happiness are within the domain of our own control, we need to obtain the tools and have desire to use them for self-cultivation.

For a large part of my 20s, self-cultivation (and even self-care) was absent from my life. I worked a lot, sometimes drank a lot, and I had no purpose. My existence was mostly about survival. There were sparse moments of self-care, but even that was hard to come by because I couldn't really afford a massage on a regular basis. Even things I could do for free, I didn't do because deep down I was struggling with worthiness.

A tipping point came after a period of loneliness and depression. I knew something had to change. At the beginning I assumed, like many people do, that to heal myself meant embarking on a path of self-improvement. What I have learnt since is that rather than seeing myself as somehow damaged or flawed, beneath the exterior layer of tension, stress and anxiety there is beauty, wholeness, strength and love. My job was to excavate what was already present within me.

My path to self-cultivation was illuminated when I came across the right guides (the right guides for me, those whose stories touched me and whose voices struck a chord in my heart). One of the central influences has been Ana Forrest and Forrest Yoga, which involves way more than the physical yoga practice, it is a way of living and breathing in beauty. First I read Ana's book Fierce Medicine... now this is a phenomenal example of the power of yoga and Ana's unwavering commitment to self-cultivation. Then, I attended a Forrest Yoga workshop and the rest unravelled in beautiful and mysterious ways, involving synchronicity and wonderful miraculous moments which helped me get closer to who I am.

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